Imagine The Story of a Syrian

If you can, suspend your disbelief and imagine for a moment. What it would feel like to have someone knock at your door? You open it. There is an Ak-47 pointed in your face. The person holding the gun gives you very clear orders: Join the IS, leave, or die.

The headless bodies lying in the street behind the man speak louder than his words. You have three choices. Make it fast. Your life depends on it.

Now imagine fleeing for your life. You're forced to embark on a treacherous journey without much preparation at all. Across sea and desert, above mountain peaks and through torrential storms your journey wanes on the knife's edge of life and death.

After months of hardship, after watching so many people die, after screaming out in frustration as you wait in line after line, after fighting for the very air you breathe—you finally get to a border crossing that is only a few states away from your destination.

But there is a hold up. No one is moving. What is happening? Someone screams something in a language you don't understand. There's a burst and a hissing sound. Then people start screaming and running for their lives.

The officials at the border crossing decided that your life is worth nothing to them. They launch tear gas into the crowd to prove it.

As the teargas invades your eyes, your skin and your lungs, it sears the pain of your journey even deeper into your soul. You've been branded a refugee. Your life has a different weight than the 'others'. The brand is one that burns and can never be removed. Your fingers have been printed. Your passport has been scanned. Your destiny is in the hands of a faceless union who thinks you are a problem to be solved—a risk to be mitigated.

After all this, after several more months of traveling, you finally arrive to answer the call of the woman who gave you hope. The promise for a new beginning, the promise for citizenship and integration—education and opportunity even—the promise that moved you through mountains, teargas, and torrential storms. You walk into the city and are looking for the faces of people like you.

But the only brown faces you can see are those peering through tent windows. These places look like slums—worse even. You're given a number and handed a few things, you're introduced to some of the others in the camp and left to wonder where you've landed.

"Is this the right place?" You think to yourself, "There must be a mistake."

Soon you realize this isn't a mistake. The woman's promise was true for some, but the basin of her promise has run dry. Some call her Auntie. You don't care what to call her, you just want a home. You want to scrub off the branding on your skin which has seared the memories of loss into you so deeply. You want to go back home and wake up from this nightmare and sigh deep relief that it is not real.

But every day you do awake you are faced with the living horror in this life, again...