by: Assalah, an Iraqi refugee in Belgium
The day of May 12, 2017 was a day of happiness and hope for me, as I arrived in Belgium and saw my mother, sister, and brother after two years of being separated. Happiness and warmth spread in our whole family, and this was a very beautiful thing that was unexpected. It was as if I had been in a dream and awoken after two years of pain, loss, and longing that I spent living alone, far away from my family. I was always alone and scared, two years without mercy, or school, or friends; I was by myself between four walls with no idea what to do or where to go. I turned to God to save me from my pain and misery, and all the problems we’d faced these many years.
A week after I arrived here, I learned that my sister had late-stage cancer. My mother had not told me while I was in Iraq so as not to cause me distress and add to my sorrow. I was alone, and felt alone in Iraq with no one to support me or lift the pain from my chest. The moment I was told about my sister it was a huge shock because I never expected that something like this could happen to her. I did not know how to feel, pain, or anger, or more sadness, all these emotions hit me. I could not escape these feelings. No one was waking me up from this nightmare. After two months, my sister finished her treatments, after a lot of pain and painful memories for us both. Especially because she is the closest person to me, my partner, my friend, my sister, and seeing her better was a good feeling, a happiness for the whole family. And so my life in Belgium went on. I entered school, began to build my life and get used to living in Belgium with my family, to build a good future for myself and them, since I had not been in school since 2015, on the fateful night we lost my father.
But in 2018, my sister’s cancer came back, and it had spread. I went to her chemotherapy treatments with her. It was like going back in time, back to the pain and suffering and worry that she’d suffered once before. I watched her dying before my eyes, watched as the chemo made her sicker and weaker. I went with her so that she didn’t feel alone, so that she had someone to support her. This went on for six months, and then one day, we got a call saying that they had found my father. The man who’d been with me my whole life, who’d disappeared without us knowing where or why, or if he was dead or alive. My mother and brother immediately started filling out the paperwork to reunite him with us. He spent months in Jordan, stranded while the paperwork was getting processed, trying to find work in order to survive. My sister beat her cancer a second time, and Miles 4 Migrants re-united my father with us.
I cannot express how thankful I am to this organization for helping me and my father re-unite with our family, and for helping us to get to Belgium. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your help, with visas, passports, and all the steps in between. (Editor’s note: this was mostly done by Caritas International Belgium) Thank you to all the donors and volunteers from around the globe who made this possible. I hope that you can continue to help make miracles happen for other families. Thanks with all my love to you.
To read the first part of Assalah’s story, click here