by Anna Ware

When I was young, I dreamed about being a dancer, then I dreamed about being a teacher, and through high school I imagined what it would be like to be an accountant. I have ended up being none of those things, although I’m still always the first one on the dancefloor!

Dreams can change over time, as we experience new things and as our lives evolve. What was once unachievable becomes possible, and what once seemed so simple suddenly becomes unattainable.

A few years ago, I was helping one of my family members understand what it must be like to be a refugee.

Imagine you are a teacher, an electrician, a shop owner. You live in your home with your family, you watch TV in the evening, eat out at restaurants, go shopping, drop your children off at school. You have dreams of sending your children to university, of one day having a new car, of paying off your mortgage or starting a vegetable patch in your garden.

One evening you attend a meeting to support something you feel passionate about. It seemed harmless enough at the time, but the next day your life is changed forever. People didn’t like you speaking out. Your life and the life of your children is threatened, you are arrested and tortured and you do not know if you will live to see tomorrow.

Or perhaps violent politics that played out on the news in other regions, far away from your day to day life unexpectedly spilled into your streets. People raided your home, took your things. You live in fear every day.

Maybe your colleagues are activists and you get caught up in it accidentally. In the future it could be climate change, a natural disaster or another pandemic completely out of your control.

In what seems like an instant, your life will never be the same again. Your dreams are now ensuring your family is protected, that you have food to eat and shelter in winter. You dream of a place of safety so you travel over land and sea, suffering hardship and distress to get there. You dream that you will all get there unharmed. You do it so that your children can have their own dreams one day.

Life and dreams change, sometimes drastically like that for our asylum seeking or trafficked clients, and sometimes for the rest of us just a little.  But always to dream is to hope and to believe in a better time, a wonderful time, and we all deserve to dream of that.

Read more about the dreams of refugees in this International Rescue Committee project.