Kearstin Bailey has been a long-term intern at Kalunba since October 2015. During her time here she has experienced much and has built community with many of our beneficiaries. She recently wrote a reflective piece about the stereotype of “young men of military age” that is so often connected with refugees.
Yes, most of the folks that I work with on a daily basis are single men of military age, but to stop there is such a disservice to their character, for these young men are so much more. They are filled with hope, determination, intelligence, an aptitude for business, creative problem solving skills, flexibility, compassion, loyalty, love, and more.
The men I work with have left their homelands to escape war because they have no desire to fight. They often see the state of their nations and despair at what has happened, the “freedom fighters” and militant groups who have corrupted the name of Islam for their cause. They have fled to Europe, seeking safety and security, making the perilous journey on their own in the hopes that they can build a life here, and eventually the rest of their family can join them – mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers.
The men that I interact with have desires for the future that make me cry sometimes to hear them. They want meaningful employment and a chance to give back to their community. They want to share their profession from their homeland, whatever they were trained in, be it pottery, construction work, shoemaking, or tailoring. They want to start businesses and contribute to the economy. They want what we all want – and yet so many people around the world do not take the time to realize that.
You can read her blog post in its entirety here.