Don’t call me refugee~!

Lamiya Safarova

“Refugee! Refugee! You’re a refugee!” The kids on the playground started calling names and teasing the new girl in their school. Lamiya Safarova looked up at them and started to cry.

It wasn’t her fault that bombs and missiles had been aimed at her little village of Jabrayil  in Azerbaijan and that her family had been afraid that one might explode on their house. It wasn’t her fault that the neighboring village, Khalafli, had already been burned to the ground or that enemy soldiers had threatened to kill everybody who didn’t leave, or that kids were being kidnapped and held hostage until their parents could pay huge sums of ransom money to get them back.

It wasn’t her fault that her family had barely been able to bring anything from their home when they fled, or that she was poor now and didn’t have pretty clothes to wear or that she was new at this school and didn’t have many friends.

Lamiya often found herself daydreaming about her old village where tulips grew in the springtime, hugging the high mountains of the Caucasus. She often wondered what had happened to the friends she had left behind. Were they still alive and if so, where were they living now? Would she ever see them again? And what about the house that her father had just built? Was it still standing? Had everything inside been looted and destroyed? Or had it been burned to the ground like so many others houses?

It wasn’t her fault that there was a war with Armenians who were trying to push the Azer-baijanis off their land, and that nearly a million people like herself had had to flee their homes and find a new place to live, new friends, new schools, new jobs. So when the kids called her “refugee”, it hurt her very deeply.

In English, “refugee” means a person who is searching for protection and safety-a shelter from danger. The same word, “gachgin”, in the Azeri language also carries with it the idea of “runner,” meaning a person who has run away from something-a person who isn’t brave and didn’t try to fight but just ran away. But Lamiya knew that wasn’t true. And that’s why she started crying when they called her “refugee, refugee”. She also knew that the kids wouldn’t understand what she had lived through. It was too different from their own lives. Baku was too far away from Jabrayil. It would take you five or six hours to drive there by car. How could kids really understand the war that was going on over there?

That night, Lamiya went home and started writing a poem. She knew that she would burst inside if she didn’t write it down. She called the poem, “Don’t Call Me Refugee.” She was nine years old at the time.

Don’t call me refugee

My life, my destiny
Has been so painful, so don’t call me refugee.
My heart aches, my eyes cry,
I beg of you, please don’t call me “refugee”.

It feels like I don’t even exist in the world,
As if I’m a migrant bird far away from my land
Turning back to look at my village.
I beg of you, please don’t call me “refugee”.

Oh, the things I’ve seen during these painful years,
The most beautiful days I’ve seen in my land,
I’ve dreamed only about our house.
I beg of you, please don’t call me “refugee”.

The reason why I write these sad things
Is that living a meaningless life is like hell.
What I really want to say is:
I beg of you, please don’t call me “refugee”.

refugees 2


13 thoughts on “Don’t call me refugee~!

  1. That’s the reality in so many places, isn’t it… And kids who’ve listened to their parents can be cruel and not even understand why, just parroting what they’ve heard. You know what stuck out to me, though? This line, “Lamiya often found herself daydreaming about her old village where tulips grew in the springtime, hugging the high mountains of the Caucasus.” So often we don’t humanize these folks. We envision their homes as something primitive and worthless. And nothing could be so far from the truth. That was really driven home to me when I read Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner.” It blew my mind to think of suburbs in cities in Afghanistan. It made such an impression on me. It said, these people are no different than you. Your sentence brought up that same feeling for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sad to read. We humans can be unnecessarily cruel to ourselves over nothing. We all don’t really require the much that we accumulate thus can be more empathetic to those who don’t have. We met these resources here and we will also leave them here when we die. Mankind is really his own worst enemy. There is never an excuse for cruelty and it is simply borne of greed.


  3. So sad. I do feel for the people who are being pushed out of their country, but you have to understand the fear that is going to come with such a huge influx of refugee’s. People fleeing the wars and fighting. There are limited resources. That is just a fact. It is also a fact that when a huge influx of people come into a country with no aspirations of assimilating it is going to cause fear for the people there. That they will now lose all that they have and are to the “new” people. Heck it happened to the American Indians.
    The heartlessness and hardness comes as a way to defend yourself. I am not saying this a right or good thing. It is a human thing. It is happening in England and France who are having issues with areas that are increasingly hostile to “natural” Britons and Francs. And the citizens are having enough of it. Germany’s ire is escalating and there is going to be even more violence for similar reasons. Essentially trying to make little “islands” of their own culture with no regard to assimilating. This is going to cause fear and resentment. Especially when you are telling the people that live there already that they will just have to get over it and stop being racist. That is not going to happen easily.
    A family friend lives in Britain and had to move because it was increasingly hostile to her and others that had lived there for years. She sold her home of 20 years because she no longer felt safe because of all of the fighting and break-ins. She is angry and so are many others. So, it isn’t necessarily a matter of not caring but of fear. And nothing is being done or said that makes that fear any less.
    Just my two cents. I guess I am angry because it seems that nothing is being done to transition people properly. There is nothing being done to let the people coming in the country know they have to obey the rules or they will get booted. The whole situation is just insane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess everybody wants to help and see the people taken in…as long as it’s not in their own country.

      Far away that’s good, close to our homes….not so good.

      You are right, the integration is not good, neither is the introduction. Most countries take them in and put them in shelters, like in a ghetto. Then, they aren’t allowed to work for years.

      “Knowing the rules” that made me laugh. They need to obey the rules, but aren’t allowed to be a real part of the country.
      It’s sad, very sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If ever the world is called upon to do something about the thousands, millions, being displaced by war and bombs, it is right now. Australia locks them up; out of sight and out of mind. I am sure it will come to bite Australia, soonere rather than later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had neighbors over last night, the same people who always beg me to come to church with them. We had a few drinks and the subject “immigration” and “refugees” came up.

      Hearing them being heartless, without any empathy for others, and being so uneducated, made me very angry.

      I will write about it over the next days, because it just couldn’t believe what I heard.

      The poem was written in 1999 during the last refugee crisis.


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