All of us migrants bring different things in our suitcases. Some suitcases are heavier than others; some carry the minimum things we were allowed on the plane, while others have those unique things that remind us of home. However, we all bring helpful items to start and develop our life abroad, such as English books, a telephone, documents, medicine, etc. They are all necessities that we bring because we need to. But we don’t only bring material things: someone knows how to fix a car, while another knows how to fix a faucet. Someone knows computers, and someone else is good at keeping accounts for a business.
When we arrive in the country, our paths separate. Some of us must start long application processes to obtain a work permit; others apply for a protection process, some start studying, and others start working. Each of us is lost in our own personal and family situations. Sometimes we see each other and talk at work, queueing for some migration paperwork, at church, or supermarket. Of course, everyone has their problems, and time is always short. But, on the other hand, we are very busy minding our own business.
All this is true, but it is also true that inside the suitcase with which we arrived, there is something that we have not seen carefully: the desire to belong and to solve our problems collectively. We all have the experience of belonging to some group in our home country; for instance, a club in our neighbourhood or the school, a sports club, a union, etc.
Rarely do we see our experience as members of such groups as an important resource for our migrant life in Ireland. And this is very important because each one of the difficulties that we face as migrants or refugees has been experienced and overcome previously. So there is nothing new under the sun regarding migrants’ experiences. And that knowledge is precious to us not only to avoid wasting time and energy but because it unites us with other people who can help us on our journey.
It is a mistake to think that we migrants compete for the same few opportunities as if we were enemies—quite the opposite. On the contrary, we can create those opportunities we need only to work collectively. We have examples of this collaborative work in the successful campaigns to improve the conditions of undocumented migrants, the rights of refugees and their children, and the initiatives that have been taken at the local level.
Putting our different experiences and skills together is a good way to strive and work collectively for opportunities and wellbeing accessible to all. There are no individual solutions to the problems that affect us collectively; there are only collective solutions that demand that we be the main actors in their achievement. Migrant participate. Join the initiatives that try to improve your life. It is here and now where your life unfolds. It is here and now where your dreams and the dreams of all of us become a reality.
Photo: Sebastian Silva: https://a-visual-diary-for-tomorrow.tumblr.com/