So I have a new name, refugee. Strange that a name should take away from me My past, personality and hope. Strange refuge then. So many seem to share this name, refugee, Yet we share so many differences. I find no comfort in my new name. I long to share my past, restore my pride, To show I too in time will offer More than I have borrowed. For now the comfort that I seek Resides in the old yet new name I would choose, friend. Written by a twelve year old Afghan Refugee.
Mrs Turnstone spotted this poem in an exhibition at Canterbury Baptist Church.
During my lifetime our country has made room for different groups of refugees: to name a few, exiles from Eastern European Communism, Ugandan Asians, Vietnamese boat people, people oppressed for their sexuality or because of their opposition to dictatorships. They and their descendants are part of our society, offering more than they have borrowed.
So why are our shores so unwelcoming today? And why do people not only flee their homes but also seek to come here to Britain? Welcoming or rejecting the stranger, which is our true self?