Friday, December 2, 2016


I have spent a good chunk of my time here entering data. Now you might think that sounds boring and I'll admit it's not the first thing a long to do at work but it has to be done. I enter in data about the guests who come to the food bank. Name, address, DOB, country of origin, number and age of children, asylum or refugee status, etc.

I see them when I work at the food bank too. I usually greet them and then check their names in our system to see if they've been before. We muddle through the questions needed for my database even though I only speak English fluently and perhaps they only speak Arabic, or Farsi, or French, or Lingala, or Swahili, or Pashto, or Dari, or Kurdish, oh but not the Kurdish that our volunteer speaks another type of Kurdish. I could learn 15 different languages and I would still have problems communicating with some. 

I try to show something to a guest in her language, she mutters to Akbar. "No good." says, Akbar. "Why?" I ask. "She from the country area, ya know? She never learned to read." 

You might think the face to face interactions like that would be the hardest but they're not. There is a person in front of you, they do not have time for you to become emotionally overwhelmed by their position in life. They need you to get on with it. It's inputting data that I feel the weight of them. Perhaps because I can consider them more in that space. 

The woman from earlier: 28, 1 adult 3 children under 10, Afghanistan.

When I enter in people with my birth year I think about them the most. I volunteered to leave my homeland, family, and friends to come here. Someday I will get to go home. She must have been driven out. Why else would you leave with 3 children under 10 and travel over 8,000 km? Partly on foot but maybe they were smuggled at certain points. She will probably never be able to go back.

 I think a lot about how different our lives are and I wonder if I would be able to live her life.

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