Women Refugees: Our Journey Into the Unknown…
March is declared as women’s month and women’s achievements and contributions to history and society are celebrated worldwide. This year MEWC is dedicating the month for women refugees, and creating a space for them to share their stories. Our aim with this project is to showcase the resilience and survival of what it means to be a woman refugee, and impact the perceptions of the media and the public about them.
I am YOU!
By: Edona Zogu
When I saw the Syrian refugees crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece, crossing the roads from Greece to Serbia, it reminded of me back in 1999.
Refugee – is not just a term that you should know. It does not mean that he/she is seeking for a better life or that he/she wants to go to Western Countries because that’s what he/she wanted all her/his life. In fact, it is none of the above.
Being refugee passes all the borders of your wills and desires, all your ideals and dreams. Refugee means you are forced to leave your country, your home, your school, your friends, your childhood and your life and your dreams, with or without your will. Refugee means you have nothing but yourself, your pain, you disgrace and your lost sense of belonging.
I was 16 years old and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to become, when I was forced to abandon my dreams and leave my beloved country-Kosovo, my parents and my youngest sister because of the war. We were separated during that time, as my parents and sister were blocked in the war-zone, meanwhile me with my two other older sisters and brother were trying to get away from all the war misery and continue our studies in the capital city. Back then, I wanted to be a doctor.
I remember I wasn’t afraid of death, I wasn’t afraid of shoots and bombings, as they were our daily routine. Somehow you become non-human, and you adapt yourself in the new environment.
By the end of March 1999, we were forced to leave our home and headed to FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). We were stuck for two days in the neutral zone, between Kosovo and FYROM, as new refugees were not accepted at that time. There I got the “famous” title of refugee and I experienced the features that come with it. At the “No Man’s land”, I realized that it is not just about surviving a war but about your personal survival too. There, you have no hope of having your dreams fulfilled, of making your parents proud of your achievements, of having the sense of belonging to somewhere. In fact you don’t belong to any place, any family, any joy or to yourself anymore. Everything is ruined, not just your home, school, childhood and family.
After the “No Man’s Land”, we stayed at the refugee camp in FYROM before we flew to Belgium to another refugee camp where we stayed for five months. I knew nothing about Belgium at that time. We were treated with lots of respect and dignity. With the refugee status, I had equal rights with the Belgian citizens and I was amazed by that. However, nothing feels like home! Back then, I only had one wish: to be back at my home with my parents and family. Our parents could have come to Belgium but they chose to stay in Kosovo as they were experiencing the freedom for the first time in the history of our country.
After the war ended, I flew back to my homeland. The very same moment we decided to go back, we knew we are homeless. The Serbian forces burned our home but our will to reconstruct it was stronger than ever. We wanted to go back to contribute to the restoration and development of our country. My sisters and my brother managed to study and find jobs. Today I’m a 34-year old female, journalist and psychologist. Once I was a refugee as YOU are today, once I lost my sense of belongingness too. I am YOU!