Speech delivered at World Refugee Day 2009 in Boise by Fidel Nshombo
Many people are asking me “how did you manage?” How did you manage to stay hopeful after all that happened to you?
The faith that protected me is the same that protects many fellow refugees around the world. Listen;
From birth I had nobody to rely on other than my parents. Their love, their advice and guidance kept me straight whenever I tried to go astray. But once upon a time they disappeared. I had placed my entire hope in them, they were my every source of success, love and discipline, I would watch my entire life eluding out of my sight. Every thing became hard for me to do and I had in front of me all the bad choices to choose from. All the good ones were kept behind my back, and all that my eyes would see were things that were not profitable.
But inside of me there was still a voice that whispered the good my parents used to portray. There was a non-stop whisper that tells me I could still do it without them, but it was because it was very hard to follow and very hard to ignore as well that I stayed in situ for years. I was like a prisoner who is sentence for life and had no hope whatsoever, therefore could not do anything beneficial,
The faith that blesses me today is the same faith that helped many refugees to succeed. While I was repeatedly told that I was nothing, that I was uneducated, poor, crazy and possibly dead walking. That I will never taste peace or rest, that I will never have a family of my own or see the good things of life again. I looked at myself several times and surely I could never see the future sparkle in my eyes or even the past that reflect something good to come. I could not agree more with these haters. Yet that is just how life works, no one can foresee the future, and a bad day, bad week, bad month or a bad year never means a bad future.
When I was in the desert of Kalahari with no water, no food and no cloth, my faith faded like that of Job’s wife in the bible. Looking all around and seeing no one to turn to for help, seeing my friends kicking the bucket one by one without reaching their goals, I was ready time and time again to commit suicide, but that same supernatural faith kept adding an hour of hope every hour until I found help. Getting things you didn’t work or plan for, things you did not expect and mostly at the time that you expect them the least, was just a miracle. The faith that wiped shame out of me, the faith that never sees disappointment, the faith that wipes tears off the eyes of the refugees, the faith that hopes and believes despite the length of the night, the morning will come and the sun will shine.
Even when that time of loneliness comes, family dies or disappears you stay alone with your friends despising you, you lack support and have nothing to eat or wear. Living in a place where no one really cares about what may happen to you, in a refugee camp where everyone is in the same position and everyone is for himself. But still there will be this voice deep down in your heart that will say, “ you can still be happy” that the supernatural faith’s voice that prevents you from harming yourself every second until success reaches to you, that’s the faith that kept refugees going, that's the faith the helped refugees along their painful and tough route to peace. It is the same faith that keeps the blind, mute and disabled alive, the faith of Nelson Mandela, the faith of Lumumba and my faith.
I was thrown around by people, insulted and tortured. Some aimed to kill me and deported me in countries they know I would never survive, left me in places they knew I was going to perish, but the faith kept me safe, I was starved and had to pick food out of trash but never die from germs. I was a street kid in South Africa but I never died from coldness. I was in the war zone many times but never get shot, God showed me love and his supernatural power has led me till today, and so has it led the many refugees that are here today. God is above our problems. A bad day, bad week, bad month or bad year never means a bad future.