Think Again — A Story About Human Compassion and the Migrant Crisis

My 2-year-old great-grandson with his stepfather on Venice Beach, California.

My 2-year-old great-grandson with his stepfather on Venice Beach, California.

LAST NIGHT I READ AN INTENSE, eye-opening story about refugee immigration.

This morning I read a news story about the body of a drowned 3-year-old boy found on a Turkish beach after Canada allegedly rejected his family’s refugee application.

Then I opened my email and read a forward entitled Our Special Bucket List. Included on the wish list of thirteen politically inspired “must-haves” were: 3. Borders Closed! and 9. NO freebies to Non-Citizens! At the bottom of this email was a note urging the receiver to pass it on.

Instead of forwarding the email, I am sharing this compelling, heartbreaking story. Please read THINK AGAIN and please…. consider passing this story on.

CONTENT NOTE: The original author of this story is unknown. It was translated from German into English by the Swedish-Australian author of the blog A Momma’s View. Some of the passages contain vivid descriptions of the horrors of war.

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Think Again

I’d like to tell you a story I’ve recently read and ask you how you feel. Please read and let me know.


… You are 30 years old, married to a beautiful wife, with two gorgeous kids. You have a good enough job to be able to afford a little bit of extras and you own a nice little house in the town you grew up in. Everything seems perfect. Every night after work you sit down with your family and you enjoy a nice dinner. You drink a glass of your favorite wine and after putting your kids to bed you and your lovely wife might enjoy watching a movie or your favorite TV show, cuddling up on your comfortable sofa.

Suddenly though the political situation in your country changes. After only a couple of months soldiers are suddenly standing on your doorstep and in front of everyone’s house.They tell you, that if you don’t join them they will shoot you and while you are trying to grasp what has been said one of them starts touching your wife, telling her to take her clothes off. You get between them eyeing the molester and while trying to understand what’s happening you hear your neighbor tell them that he would never join their cause. A shot and nothing else…

For a reason you still don’t really understand the soldiers leave you alone. For now. For the rest of the evening and deep into the night you keep thinking about what happened. Suddenly you hear an explosion and your living room is gone. You and your family run outside and you realize that almost the entire town is gone. You take your family back inside and rush over to where your parents’ house used to be. It’s gone. They’re gone. While trying to find them you stumble over something. You look closer and discover a hand with a ring on it. It’s your mother’s. Although you try to find them there’s nothing else left of them…

You can’t think anymore. You race home, screaming at your wife to get the kids ready. You grab a little bag as you won’t be able to carry much more. You put two pieces of clothes for each of you in there and your mobile phone plus charger. Somehow you want to try to get a hold of friends and family once you and your loved ones are safe. Your wife grabs your baby girls favorite stuffed animal. And your older daughter takes one of her toys. You’d love to take more but there’s no chance. As the political situation got worse over the last weeks you’ve already gotten as much cash as possible. You take it with you.

You have 15’000. It won’t last for long as the trafficker charges 5000 a head. You can only hope that he has a heart and takes all 4 of you along. Otherwise you will have to say goodbye to your family. A goodbye that most probably will be forever. You pay him. All your money is gone.

The journey to the border by foot lasts two weeks. You and your wife are hungry. Both of you haven’t eaten ever since you’ve left. Both of you are getting weak. You’re carrying your 21 months old daughter. The older one walks as much as she can. Both of them have not stopped crying. You love all of them so much and you wish things would be different…

After two more weeks you reach the coast. In the middle of the night your family and all the other refugees are sent on a boat. Your wife is no longer talking she is just staring into the night. You both haven’t had water for way too long. Your glad that all of you could go on the boat although it’s overloaded and you fear it will go under… You pray that your family will be safe…

Many cry. Some of the younger kids have died. The traffickers throw them over board. The moment the coast becomes visible your split up on smaller boats. Unfortunately you and your family are split up too. You and your oldest daughter on one boat, your wife and the little one on an other one. Everyone’s told to shut up so nobody can hear you when the boats approach the coast.

Your older daughter understands but your little one doesn’t. She’s hungry, cold and scared. She doesn’t stop crying. The other refugees in your wife’s boat are getting nervous. They tell your wife to make sure the girl shuts up. She doesn’t manage. You watch as one of the guys leans over to your wife, grabs your little girl and throws her over board. You jump into the water and you try to find her… But she’s gone. Forever. She would have turned 2 in only a couple weeks…


You don’t remember how you managed to climb back on the boat or how you all made it to shore. You don’t remember how you, your older daughter and your wife got re-united. Everything’s foggy.

You’re wife hasn’t spoken a single word since you’ve lost your little girl. Her eyes are empty, her smile is gone. By now you’ve made it to the refugee shelter. Your older daughter is not letting go of her little sisters favorite stuffed animal. You’ve never seen her as absent…

A man who’s language you don’t understand leads you into a hall with 500 beds. It’s humid, loud and smelly and crowded. You try to understand what you have to do but you struggle standing upright. In a way you wish they would have shot you back then… But you keep going. You manage to smile at your girl, trying to hide the tears building up in your eyes. You look at your wife trying to signal your love and support. You don’t know if she receives it. You unpack the few things from home. Amongst them your little girls pieces of clothes. And your smartphone. And then you sleep in this foreign country for the very first time…

The next day they distribute clothes to all of you. Some of the clothes are luxury brands. You get toys for your daughter and 140 Euro for the month. Everyone takes what they’ve been handed, happy to have something to change into. You change into the clean clothes given to you and step outside. You want to try to reach your friends, family. You hold your phone in the air to try to catch a signal. You need to know who’s still alive back home…

And then a local passes by. He looks at you in disgrace and starts saying stuff which later another guy will translate as:

“F*** off and go back to where you come from! Look at you! Wearing luxury brands and waving a smartphone in the air, getting everything while we have to work out ass off…”


I tell you how I feel right now: Sad, numb, confused and also deeply ashamed.

Fortunately I’ve never had to suffer through something like that. But I watched people come to our country who had been through an ordeal like this. And I judged. I was mad at the government for giving them everything. I was wondering why they would not send them back as they clearly “had everything”. I was too quick to judge. I know now.

I will never be able to completely understand a trauma as such but I will for sure never judge again. The pain, the fear, the loss… Nothing will ever be able to make up for it.

Think again. Think before you judge. Think who would be desperate enough and why to step foot on such a boat and to put their family at risk. You have to be desperate to do so…



About Linda Lee

Linda Lee is my pen name. I am a former nurse, a Mensa member, and a writer, diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by severe trauma and narcissistic abuse. Formerly an agnostic, I am now a Christian. My husband, a USMC combat veteran and a chaplain, has also been diagnosed with PTSD. We've come a long way on our healing journey; we have a ways to go. ***We put the FUN in dysfunction***
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