I am a refugee, a homeless one that no one offers to house.
Once I was as you are who read this, a comfortable happy man
With a little house and garden, a family, work I could tackle
And above all, a free man, head held high, able to look at all men.

Then came the horror, the rules, the restrictions, loss of freedom;
No money, no house, no job – punishment for wrong thoughts and looks.
It was NOT for this that I was born, that I had my wife and family, I said.
We left our homeland, fleeing one dark night to the boat we had organised.

Why do our fellow countrymen treat us thus, overcrowding a leaking boat?
Why do they charge and charge and charge yet again to let us leave our land?
With what callous brutality of man to fellow man do they sell our whereabouts
To the so-called pirates and fishermen of the Gulf who rob, rape and pillage?

I am a man as you are a man. How do you think you would feel to see
Your wife and your daughters seized and pack raped before your eyes?
What can one do against so many? Fight and struggle, and be knocked out!
But back to grim reality and the fear and despair of one’s loved ones.

If spared, then the leaking boat sets sail for Hong Kong where freedom is.
It is the season of the monsoon and the typhoon and the huge high waves
That swamp the little leaking bcats which have no working life-rafts.
Some die; some fall to their deaths; others are washed overboard and lost.

And into Hong Kong Harbour, one of the finest harbours in the world,
All busy with shipping, tied up in the lanes, loading and moving.
And people working, and laughing, and living and loving and joking.
Ah! Freedom! Your price truly is eternal vigilance by all mankind.

The checking, the details, the examinations, the clean water –
Ah! the benison of clean water to wash children, to wash our salty bodies.
The ragged clothes hung out to dry, fluttering in the wind of freedom.
And finally the camp. Soldiers’ Barracks once and now to provide shelter.

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were famous fighting men and true.
It is an honour to use the barracks of such honourable men – for a time .
But time stretches, and time goes by, and still we stay in our small quarters,
Our dreams of re-settlement somewhere, of real freedom and peace, shattered.
.
Pretty nurses from Save the Children Fund run health clinics
Where they dispense advice, medicines and freely give treatments .
Health has improved, and it has to – for one must be healthy to continue –
The .journey from home was hard and tough; the journey to come far harder.

That the world knows of the horrors from which we fled, we know.
That the world cares about our humanity and our liberty we thought, we knew.
But we wait, and we wait, and the days and the weeks and months go by
And hope deferred does indeed make sick the heart that once was joyous.

There is nothing to do; there is the boredan, the cruel boredan.
So we have a fight; we pick a quarrel ; we say, “He has an unfair advantage”.
We decide the camp shop is cheating us; we think they make money out of us.
And so we fight and squabble and complain to help deaden the sheer ennui.

Think what I have gone through to reach a world that I thought was free .
I have lost home, house, money, job, and what is more – I cannot return .
I suffered perils and my family was violated, but still we came on to you.
And you – the world, the happy world, the world I thought was mine – turned away.

You turned away from a poor man with a little wife and little children.
A poor man who would work, and work so willingly for so very little.
A man who asks that you share his need for freedom and liberty,
And offer him the sanctuary of your country’s re-settlement programme, NOW.

Today is the day that the Save the Children Fund Field Director will come.
A tall man, a big man, a loving, generous man of the most infinite compassion.
A soldier once , still he strides and stands as only a military man can –
And I know he will do all that is humanly possible to help us emigrate from here.

If, as you read this, you can put yourself in the shoes of a refugee,
Then do not subscribe to graffiti that says, “Asians and Wogs go home”.
Say instead that you offer a warm and loving welcome to freedom-lovers
And save us from rotting in mind and spirit in never ending boredom.

 

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