"I was born in South Africa, and my first experience of migration came at four years old, when my family moved to Israel. My first impressions weren't good and I hated it there; I felt like an alien and an outsider, it was like being trapped. As an adult, I migrated again, this time to Switzerland. Luckily I met my husband who is originally Swiss — he invited me to come back with him to Geneva and I agreed. Happily!
I still haven't found a job and don't know enough French, but the feeling of freedom, the respect of my civil rights and my safety are unbelievable. There are of course things that I miss about my previous countries of residence. The views and general vibe of South African are on that list, as well as the food from Israel. My daughter and sisters still live in Israel, so that will remain my connection to the place. But migration to me means opportunity, the promise of a new life and, most importantly, hope. Home means reedom, safety, real democracy and civil rights.
In Israel I had to adapt to a completely different mindset than what I was used to, and now in Switzerland I have to adjust to a new language — I'm still not there. Still, as a migrant I believe I bring hope, diversity and my own type of colour to my current surroundings. For those living in host countries, I believe they should be happy to meet people from diverse backgrounds, and that they should seize the opportunity to develop, learn and get new perspectives."
This story is brought to you in partnership with The Refugee Cultural Festival, 2017 edition. The festival was launched to encourage small, local actions to embrace diversity and support those forced to leave their homes due to war, famine and climate change. Learn more about the festival and donate by clicking here.