Refugee Stories


The following stories were written by local author Clare Weze following extensive research into true accounts of the experiences of refugees arriving in the UK over the last six years.


‘Stories are able to help us become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos we see despite all the chaos.’

Madeline L’Engle


{NAME: Sharifa}

{ARRIVING FROM: Afghanistan}

We walked for weeks. I carried my son alone, because my husband died when a bomb went off in front of a police station near our home. The way we travelled is called the Balkan Refugee Route. Journalists call it that when they write about us, but they cannot describe the driving wind that was always across, never behind, or the spongy matting of plants and mud that we trod, wishing we were migrant birds on the wing instead. Our shoes chipped away, mile by mile. In the end I walked on scraps of leather, feeling my baby’s perfect soles warm against my waist. Most days, we were wet. It’s a miracle my son stayed dry.
Then another miracle: a wonderful bus. It rocked and lulled us, and my son relaxed enough to cry and cry and cry. I was glad to see so much life in him again. I am glad now, so much of the time, even though all of us live with our terrible losses. I was lucky; each part of the journey got better for me. The bus was a luxury after walking for so many miles. The soft mattress we share now is heaven after sleeping on the bus for days.
The Balkan route is now closed, but still people cross the continent. Now, they call it the Balkan humanitarian corridor, and without it, people take more dangerous routes, involving smugglers. I keep dreaming about those poor people still crossing continents. My dreams will not let me be. I am always walking, always showing them a better way, but in my dreams, we never reach the end. I took my son for a walk in the weak sunshine today, to the outskirts of town to see gardens and parks, because there is only concrete where we live now. I do not want him to forget the scent of flowers and leaves. A bird perched in a bush. It had sandy brown wings and freckles of pink on the head feathers. It was not afraid of us, but stood still and calm between song-bursts, a summer visitor, perhaps. I wondered about its journey as each note floated away on the breeze. Did it mean to land in this town, or was it blown here by chance?

(Go to the next page for another story)

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