“I live in a small popular town in France where many people have knowledge about the migration issues and have informed me about this topic. A substantial amount of people say that there are too many migrants therefore, that’s a problem. They can spend hours explaining how migrants steal our jobs, trying to disseminate their culture, how they earn so much money from the states and all have accommodation whilst homeless French people are dying on the streets. When I’m at a family party, they discuss this at the table. I have heard about this for twenty-three years and they’ve never made the connection with the fact that we, ourselves, are migrants as we have polish origins.
Where is all the knowledge coming from about this topic?
When I hear people talking about immigration, it sounds to me like they have a lot of knowledge in this area as they can give data, how many migrants are coming and how much they earn etc. They mostly repeat what they’ve heard from others such as friendly discussions at bars or events where they will share their knowledge, even if it’s not true, people will believe anything. It’s most coming from an impression, a feeling they have watching TV because many of the people who have their opinion on migration haven’t seen it with their eyes. A simple way to explain all is wrong, as old as the world, blaming the stranger. Of course, it’s possible to find the information they have as all this data is located on websites and newspapers and I guess it’s just a coincidence if they are all owned by right extremists.
Two months ago, I saw a project that was looking for participants. The project was about working with migrants In Palermo, a city in Sicily where there is a migrant crisis. I thought it would be a good opportunity to know what’s really going on, to know what is happening without relying on the media, fake news and speeches but with my own eyes. When I announced that I was going to Italy to help migrants, someone asked me if I was about to help them going back to sea. That could have turned me insane, but sadly, I’m used to these “jokes” and that doesn’t matter anymore. Furthermore, I hope that my actions and help will impact the lives of migrants here.
Coming from France, I felt that I had to apply to this project, as a citizen commitment because my country has its part of responsibility about what is happening. We’ve colonized countries, taking their wealth for our own business. Even after giving them back their countries, we still have industries exploiting countries and their people and we are still doing business with their dictators. We also have to make our reputation, being a touristic country, we need to give a good image of ourselves. So, of course, all people we’ve let on their own on the planet see our country as heaven, when life is good and democracy reality and I understand then why some want to come. For all these reasons, I wanted, as French, to help the migrants and take the responsibilities of the mistakes we’ve made. After all, it’s really a democracy, so every citizen should have his responsibility about politics made.
Reality is far different from what I’ve heard. A few weeks were enough to understand that all I’ve heard before was wrong, so wrong. To arrive in Europe, flying wars, poverty, famine etc. the trip is not a cruise. A lot a people are dying embarking on these difficult journeys, used by smugglers or arrest by authorities. I’ve heard so many stories since I arrived, about sexual trafficking and mafias sending girls in Europe and controlling them, putting pressure on their family, the journeys on poorly built boats where sometimes hundreds of people are on, burning under the sun without food or water. I’ve heard a lot of stories about the conditions for migrants in Libya also and I still don’t understand how someone can do it to people, far away from the human rights. Those people that came for a better life, sometimes it’s just getting worse.
And what for all these “lucky” ones that arrive in Europe? They have to face the authorities, the politics, the administration, the closed borders and the racism. The processes of getting the papers, having the right to stay and have at least the hope of getting a job a start their new life they came from, is so stressful and long. They are definitely not treated as equal, but with suspicious and condescension. And once they have their paper? Nothing is waiting for them, because they will still be migrants for the locals.
Actually, I feel quite sad for those French I’ve told you about before, because they are so wrong, just having false facts and using them to justify their problems and their far rights vote during the election. They even forgot they were talking about people and, each time they make a “joke”, they lose part of their humanity. I wish they could live what I live, see what I see. They are not bad people, I’m sure about it, they just have a wrong vision of the world. Maybe they don’t make enough efforts to try to know the truth, maybe they are just confined in their own world. But I’m sure they can change their minds, and I hope they will before it’s too late, whilst we still can help people.”