Every day, all over the world, people make one of the most difficult decisions of their lives – leaving home home in search of a safer, better life for them and their family. There are lots of reasons why people have to flee their homes – they might be forced to leave because there is a war or other violence, they might be facing persecution and no longer feel safe because of who they are or what they believe – for example their ethnicity, religion, sexuality or political opinions.
The decision to leave
Sometimes people have time to plan their escape, sometimes they might need to act quickly and with little warning in order to stay safe. When they leave people often do not know when or if they will return, or what the journey might be like and what they might find when they arrive in a new home or even a new country and try to build a new life for themselves.
It can be very difficult to imagine what it might be like to be in such a dangerous and difficult situation that you would have to leave everything you know behind – but sometimes a ‘thought experiment’ imagining yourself into a moment of someone’s journey can help you to understand how they might be feeling, and remind you that even if their circumstances are very different to yours at the moment, we are all actually very similar.
Imagine that an emergency has happened and that you have five minutes to pack and leave your home before it will be knocked down.
Each person thinks of five things they would take with them (or you can gather them together if you are at home). Think about why you are choosing each item, and what it might mean to you if it was one of only five things you owned. Do you choose things that might be practical on your journey? Things that might remind you of your life now? Things that will be a comfort? How would it feel to be leaving home – possibly never to return – with only those five things?
You can make your own list from scratch, or look at the list below and prioritise five items from it:
- Bottle of water
- Camping stove
- Sleeping bag
- Soft toy
Once you have chosen your five things, discuss as a group or a family what each person has chosen. If you could only bring five things between you what would they be? As you go through your choices share with each other why you decided on that object and what it means to you.
How did it go?
All over the world children live in fear that they may have to move suddenly. Particularly those that live in a place experiencing conflict or frequent environmental disasters.
Do you think people fleeing their home would have the same priorities as you? Do you think they would take different items? Why? Discuss how you would feel if you had to leave your home.
Take it Further
Explore more about the journeys those fleeing from their homes have to take and make a refugee board game.
You can find out more about the lives of child refugees, and watch a short film showing their lives, on the Save the Children Fund website.