WOMEN REFUGEES, MIGRANTS, IDP’S, ACROSS THIS COMPLEX WORLD, LEAVE BEHIND MANY HEIRLOOMS, FAMILY TREASURES, PHOTOS, ITEMS OF PRECIOUS MEMORY
Do you remember when you were a little girl, how your grandmother, the elder women of your family, gave you momentos, items to keep and cherish, as part of the weaving of family memories and treasures. Maybe if you were married, there were gifts handmade, maybe a comforter, a lace handkerchief, a piece of jewelry handed down over years. And there were family photos, perhaps in an album, that helped you know from where you came in your family heritage.
BUT, if you became a displaced or refugee woman, a migrant woman, often without notice, no time to plan or pack, you may have grabbed your children and ran, not knowing where you would find shelter, food, water, safety. But, you left behind so many loved items that you may never see again because your home, in the captive country, may be destroyed, looted, or occupied by armed militants. So many memories, but so many losses, and tears!
Rarely do news stories on the mass exodus of women as refugees, migrants, IDP’s, go into detail on the lives of the women and families before leaving. There are frequent assumptions that the people who are migrating are poor, had difficult living circumstances in their own home country. Many of those leaving are running for their lives, from conflict, terror, critically unsafe and insecure conditions. But, many also are educated, had living situations acceptable, and had items accumulated that gave special meaning to their lives, weaving together families and years of traditions and culture. When they left as migrants, most could carry only their children and bare essentials. Many others were left behind. But the wedding dress, the quilt made by grandma, the gold locket passed down from mother to daughter, the albums, those may be gone forever. The memories are etched in women migrants’ hearts and minds; but now they are experiencing extreme obstacles to just reach a place where they and their families can feel safe, and try to start a new life.