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Can I be a writer while I’m a refugee woman?

Coming to another country is hard in any way: either coming as an immigrant, student or sponsored. It takes a long time to make the new place a home.

When you leave your home as an immigrant or student, you come with a plan and you know where you want to go. But coming to another country as a refugee who doesn’t have any choices and not having enough time to even think about a plan is the hardest and most painful.

I didn’t think about how it would be hard to leave everything behind, what it’s like coming to a place where you don’t have any idea about the people, life, and culture.

But wherever is the best place to save ourselves, we need to be there. We want to be in peace and make our other family members safe. I came as a refugee claimant to ask for protection and to live in a secure place. Here I am.

Working as a women’s activist in a country where most people don’t believe in women’s rights is hard work, especially when publishing injustices against women by the government results in big trouble. For 10 years after graduating with a media degree in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, I was working with some nonprofit, local and international humanitarian organizations. While this was unsafe and stressful in so many ways, the feeling of how much people need support and awareness pushed me to keep working.  Women have, ironically, all the rights and not any rights at the same time! The authorities don’t want to show what we really face daily. So we been loved, harassed and killed. Earlier this year, a husband killed his wife in-front of his four-year-old son.

Canada welcomed me as a refugee who didn’t have any place, family, and safety. I appreciate living in this harmonious country where I have learned to be firm again, to build myself after losing so many things and most of my feelings, which I felt that I let go as well as all my sense, dreams, and energy. What happened to me really helped me to try to revise myself again, make this country my second home and help me to understand all the differences and way of life here.

It was difficult to live my new life as a newborn again. I arrived in British Columbia in a very hot summer in 2015 with my husband. After being accepted as a protected person and staying eight months in a transition house, I started working in a screen production company. It was amazing and I learned a lot, but it was so hard and overwhelming for me with all my thinking and worry about everything here to live, study English, work, learn all about the new culture and try to help people to understand me!

I couldn’t find a good friend, a good sister, or anyone to really know me and understand me except my husband who was in the same situation as me. But I am lucky: I can trust my pencil and notebook which are my best friends. I can tell them everything that makes me sad and concerned, everything that makes me angry, and a little happy sometimes. I use my pencil to play all my mixed emotions in my small notebook which tells me “The Purpose of Life Is to Enjoy Every Moment” on its grey cover and shows me so many key’s pictures that remind me there are many doors for you: you just need to find the key!

This belief brought something for me to participate in: a project to write a story about my journey as a refugee woman. I heard about this from a lovely woman who I previously talked with about my situation. One day, she heard The Shoe Project writing and said it reminded her of me.

This was the first step for me to participate in a writing workshop to write about how I came here with my shoes and why. It was a very interesting approach, and gave me a new start to write in English. I wasn’t very comfortable in the beginning to talk about myself. However, I thought that’s what I have to do: tell my story to help myself and all other refugees in Canada and help Canadian people to understand from us to try to make a good interconnection to produce a caring community all together.

So it was a big door for me which allowed me to expose my writing experience and skills by writing my story. I also have the chance to read it in a sold-out performance by The Shoe Project in Vancouver in 2018.

I think it was one of the key steps in my journey that propelled me to another other writing project. I joined another writing workshop and wrote more three stories. After that I participated in some other performances in different cities to read my stories and met amazing people, making some links to continue writing.

That’s how I am keeping up my writing now. You are reading my story on Highlight Communication’s website, after all. I was so grateful and felt that I can be a writer again instead staying as a refugee woman!

That was a considerable welcoming to Canada for me. It gives me same feeling I had when the judge welcomed my husband and I at our hearing day in the court. How important to be accepted here! It is vital to go back to your career or even doing a small part of what you have done back home, to feel that we all live in the same planet and we all have a right to be anywhere we can save our lives and find another chance to start again. It’s vital to live and rebuild all our emotions and strength. We need to be welcomed as humans and who we were instead of continually containing us in identities as victims of all what happened to our country. We want to contribute and belong.