A Refugee’s Story

by fmhilton

The young woman was desperate. She had lost her husband in the brutal fighting, and had just buried him. She was totally alone and penniless.

She had nowhere to go or call home. Her son was only 5 years old, and she would not be able to find work in the war-torn city. Nobody would even dream of hiring her for any kind of job. She had no skills. In order to survive she would have to do desperate things, and that she would not do. Her family would not take her in, even if they could. Her husband’s family didn’t offer any help either.

In short, she had no choice but to accept the offer her sister had made to make the dangerous journey to another country.

She did this by selling all of her possessions and leaving the country of her birth. She really did not want to, but circumstances forced her hand so she could make a better life for herself and her only child.

She did not know the language or customs of her new home. When she finally reached her new country, the only reason they allowed her in was because she had her sister to stay with.

She would never go back to her homeland. There was nothing there any more to go back to. Her former existence there was over forever.

In time, her son would grow up in the new country speaking the language and learning customs that she never did. He would grow up to become far more successful in his life than he ever could have in the old land.

She would not live very long, though..she died about 10 years after she came ashore with her son. Her son went on to become a newpaper reporter and editor for various newspapers. In time he would visit the old country and look at his former home in the city where he was born.

In reality, he was deeply grateful to his mother for her sacrifices in her life so that he could live his in peace and security. He would not really ever truly remember the exact details of their journey, but it didn’t matter in his mind-she had done the very best a mother could do:

She had saved his life by risking the unknown.

Another person who is deeply grateful to her, as well: myself.

I am the great-great-granddaughter of that woman.

Victorine Amalie LaChaussee, who fled with her young son Charles out of the Seige of Paris and to the United States with the help of her sister and the American Embassy in Paris in 1870. Nearly 150 years ago.

I, too, am deeply grateful for the incredible courage she summoned to do this. It must have been truly terrifying and daunting to her when there was no other choice for her to make-but she did it nevertheless.

Now there are thousands of refugees now in Europe who are doing the exact same thing as she did, with the same goal she had: to save their childrens’ lives.

Isn’t that reason enough to help them?

Because we are all refugees in one way or another.