19 Years A Refugee

For most of you the number 19 may not have any relevancy, but for me it is quite significant. Because this year will be my 19th year in America. I am a refugee from South Sudan. My parents fled the civil war torn country in the early 80’s and I was born in exile in Ethiopia (1985). I later migrated to the U.S. with my mother and two younger siblings on February 16, 1996. For most my life isn’t typical, but for many of my fellow country men and women my story is their story and their story is mine.

Most Americans whose families have been here for decades know nothing of war. War for them is a news report, a magazine article or a newspaper headline. For me war was (and continues to be) up close and personal. War dwelled in my nostrils and filled my eyes with death. War was a weather forecast and you never knew upon whom the gray clouds would fall. War claimed my father and uncles. War claimed aunts and countless cousins and friends. War claimed total strangers who will forever remain unknown.

War claimed opportunities and wiped clean the slate of hope for too many of us.

But war isn’t just about the physical bodies lost, war usurps and disrupts time and space too. But the most abominable aspect of war is that it is manmade. War is the most vicious poison which spits from the dark hearts of men. It is easier to deal with acts of God, i.e. tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and monsoons because these natural phenomenon aren’t vindictive and murderous. Yes, storms kill but not out of malice, hate or political and economic greed.

So, this is my blog A Continental Shift and through it I will bare my soul and open my mouth. I will talk to whomever cares to read the words I write. This will be my therapy and will act as a catharsis of sorts with the hope of excising my demons. But my blog will not be all about the melancholy and mundane, because I am more than just a political refugee. I am also your average late 20-something woman coming into her own. I am a college student, a lover of a good vegetarian pizza and if I here some good African music watch out because I love to dance. Through my blog I will talk about the things I love like music, movies and what books I’ve read and think you should read too. I am a bit of a fashionista. So, ladies beware, for there will be talk about shoes, purses and jewelry, etc. and did I mention shoes?

I am determined to not be defined exclusively by war, but because of my intimate experiences with the horrors of civil conflict, it most certainly has had a hand in molding me into the woman I am today. I am attempting to outlive the war that has left an indelible imprint upon my soul, because I know there is much more to life than sadness, heartache and living in a dark past where little light gets in.

But, I also want to address issues which are causal in the aftermath of war. Issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. I am familiar with both for they have entangled loved ones and friends alike. And if you are a refugee then you know about the special challenges we face when it comes to fitting in (the struggle is real) into a place which isn’t your motherland.

So, here we are meeting for the first time on a blog and I bid you a very warm Male (pronounced mah-lay), which is Nuer for hello.  Thanks for stopping by.

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