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No return

I have lived in Japan continuously since 1995. I was lucky enough that I could back to Turkey twice a year. The last time was in January. Who would know that I would be forced to stay for a long time? Currently, nobody knows when we can travel back and forth between Turkey and Japan without restrictions and quarantine.

Refugees don’t seek refuge for fun. It is not a touristic trip. In 2018 I visited Nairobi and talked to many refugees who escaped to Kenya from many parts of Africa. They had left everything behind: Their families, friends, and their future. They didn’t know when they would be back. Maybe never.

I know that once the vaccine is available and the pandemic gets under control, I will be able to go back. However, for the millions of refugees in the world, it is entirely unknown.What am I doing these days? I reach out to my family in Turkey through WhatsApp. I have many WhatsApp groups with my school friends. I talk to my Turkish friends here more. I wasn’t like this 3 months ago. Now, I understand that I need to “belong” to a community, a community of my own.

This is what refugees also do. They reach out to people they feel safe with. They seek opportunities for food, shelter, and work. The network makes them powerful again. They can cherish and enjoy their identity in a foreign country. They can create a small home far away from home.

I wouldn’t see connections if I weren’t involved in RIJ. I love RIJ because it connects people. By being involved in RIJ, I see how similar I am with somebody who is so far away from me. RIJ reminds me that we are all humans.

For the next blog, I nominate Vera, who knows what it means to be a refugee.