On a sunny Sunday afternoon I left my home to meet a dear friend for a walk. This was during the first weeks of the present pandemic where we could only meet a maximum of two people. We were really excited to get out after being at home for a while during lockdown. As I drove fast past the busy Tapleys Hill road my car started producing an unusual sound. I knew something wasn’t right and just as I was paying attention to the increasing noise a huge dark cloud of smoke started coming from the bonnet.
I knew then I had to stop in the middle of the road. I braked immediately and got out of the car to go behind to signal to the traffic building up behind me to continue past me. The car behind mine was left as all others shifted to the next lane to speed away. I was helpless as I knew my knowledge of car engines and what the issue could be was close to zero. The driver behind who appeared middle aged got out of the car and a lady on the passengers’ street observed as he walked towards my direction.
”Are you okay?” he asked as he headed toward my car bonnet.
He opened the bonnet and checked. I then took my phone to call for a tow-truck as he’d instructed after inspecting. As I spoke on the phone, the man signaled the lady in his car to come and they started pushing my car to the nearest car park, away from the road. They were kind enough to hang around and hold a conversation as I waited for my car to be towed away.
I am not sure what surprised me more, the car breakdown or the kindness of this couple, especially during the first week of the pandemic when everyone was in fear and keeping a distance.
This has been such a common experience for me since I migrated to the beautiful Adelaide over two years ago away from my home country. I have on so many occasions been amazed by the kindness of total strangers.
Unfortunately not all immigrants experiences are similar .Being an immigrant can be tough, but being an immigrant during a pandemic even tougher.
The constant worry
Most immigrants travel to look for a better life, and most from developed countries. It is such a costly relocation and sometimes travelling back and forth to see loved ones is next to impossible. For me my biggest prayer over the past years was for the well being of my family because the cost of travelling was almost impossible to meet. It is such a journey of faith, hoping God will hold everything still as you pursue your dreams or purpose.
My heart really goes out to those who have lost their loved ones back home while they were away in a foreign country. It’s an experience those who have been through have shared it’s impossible to get past. What I didn’t realise before relocation was that the biggest challenges with immigration are not the visible ones but the emotional and psychological aspects.
Some acquaintances have shared of people who have lost their loved ones during the current pandemic and due to the travel restrictions could not travel. I can’t even begin to imagine what they must be going through. Just shows the importance of extending love and grace during this time.
Another aspect of relocation is the misplaced identity. It can be very confusing for most after relocation. The realisation that you will never really fit back in where you left. That moving and settling to a new culture changes people so much. The environments were in shapes us whether we acknowledge it or not. Personally I am very happy with the change and growth.
It’s been such a gift and I’ve been challenged to grow in ways I never even imagined. But am also aware that that change means I will never fit back in where I left back home. These years of my life after relocation those close to me back home will never relate to and that in itself creates a barrier.
Even though I have formed amazing friendships and connections here as well there is also a life back home that they can’t relate to .So in some instances being an immigrant feels like an in-between experience where you are neither here nor there and for some this in-between can be a lonely place.
We are all immigrants
Isn’t it interesting that immigration is something we all go through. It doesn’t have to involve change of nationalities. I believe any transition to a place or season that makes us feel foreign is migration; it can be a migration from one season to another. We often migrate to something that’s better and better can be uncomfortable. It is so easy to give in to the pressure of transition; becoming is uncomfortable.
Miriam comes from Kenya, but now lives in South Australia and is surrounded by an amazing Christian community. She enjoys deep conversations, music, tennis, bowling, occasional walks on the beach and quality friendships.