In English, “refugee” means a person who is searching for protection and safety-a shelter from danger. The same word, “gachgin” [pronounced gotch-GIN], in the Azeri language also carries with it the idea of “runner,” meaning a person who has run away from something-a person who isn’t brave and didn’t try to fight but just ran away. But Lamiya knew that wasn’t true. And that’s why she started crying when they called her “refugee, refugee”. She also knew that the kids wouldn’t understand what she had lived through. It was too different from their own lives.

From  Don’t Call Me “Refugee” -My Name is Lamiya, by Betty Blair

Don’t Call Me Refugee
by Lamiya Safarova, 9

My life, my destiny
Has been so painful, so don’t call me refugee.
My heart aches, my eyes cry,
I beg of you, please don’t call me “refugee”.

It feels like I don’t even exist in the world,
As if I’m a migrant bird far away from my land
Turning back to look at my village.
I beg of you, please don’t call me “refugee”.

Read rest of poem (published in Spring, 1999) in Azerbaijan International




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