Most important, Listening and to be heard

Mortaza Behboudi


"In these days we can see the human displacement cause of war, political situation and climate change, most of them Syrian, Iraqis, African and Afghan refugees but the question is how they are living with the people in the host countries? And how they can understand each other? Of course there are different languages and traditions.

Being a refugee and as a journalist made my story and also made my life to understand better, to learn more and to speak. I live in France as a political refugee since 2 years. When I arrived in Paris, I knew no one and had nothing. I slept on the streets for 2 weeks before hearing about “La Maison des Journalistes” from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which provides a support and a safe place to stay for journalists that have had to leave their countries of origin because of their work.

During asylum seeking I could speak English with offices and people, being guest in French families, I never forget those days, they asked me what is my favorite food, about drinks and traditions in my country so kindly and also they were trying to learn my languages to communicate with me in my language.

I decided to learn French to speak with people in their language, which was not easy, I remembered the quote of Mandela that he said: “if you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes to his head and if you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart.” Language in a power for refugees who want to start a new life in new country and this power is among the strongest humanistic powers we have and can use for the good. This diversity is natural and human being of different nations, genders, values, traditions blended together. People are being punished for having their opinions. They are now living here and it’s your turn to listening and to share your knowledge. We cannot understand the reality without local voices and local reporters that what is happening in those countries and around the world.

Many of refugees and asylum seekers are sleeping in the street and no one wants to talk to them and even they want to speak with someone and nobody wants to listen. This is a win-win situation for refugees and people in the host country by listening to refugees, to exchange and to learn. This is/was not our choice to leave our countries and it could happen to everyone.
Living in a country or listening to a person is a completely different experience than just reading a few books and watching a few programs. Many of displaced persons are still waiting in transit countries with children since one, two and three years. In fact most poor countries (Pakistan, Nigeria, Chad, Lebanon, etc.) are hosting a large number of refugees.

The idea is to bring together people, students, major civil societies and institutions or groups across the world to mobilize their resources to support local authorities and specialist providers in helping and protect and to go further in bringing more refugees to safety in the host countries. Many people want to contribute to giving them foods, accommodations and information by comminuting in languages and body language because most of them cannot understand the languages and traditions and it takes time for them.

Listening to people’s stories, particularly those of refugees, is the only way to better understand what is going on in the world and the impact these issues have on peoples’ lives. I am proud to be myself an Afghan and I will continue to fight for freedom of expression and for those stories to be heard.