As our leaving date hurtled towards us we both tried to see friends and family before we left. Inevitably the conversation involved some discussion of what we were doing. The usual comment was ‘oh, you are brave…’.
I have been thinking about this, I don’t think of myself as a brave person, I haven’t been in a situation where I have had to be brave in the sense of risking myself for others. I don’t know how I would react in that situation other than if my children were involved.
I know that there are millions of people who are leaving their homes, families and communities to escape violence, persecution or poverty. Are they brave? I think that they are braver than me. I have, with my husband made a choice to move to another country, to live another life. We have that luxury.
I can only think that we are all travelling with hope; our hope is that the new life we are dreaming about will enable us to spend more time with our children, building a life and a business which reflects at least some of our beliefs. For many, many others the hope is simply to live safely. That is not a luxury.
We are the outsiders who have moved to another country, are joining another community. We know that we must work hard to integrate, learn the language and join in where we can; contributing by establishing a business which can support us and contribute to the local economy in a sustainable way, contributing not consuming.
Real bravery is being afraid but carrying on despite that fear. So no, I don’t think I’m brave. We have done a lot of research, planned our move over the last couple of years, tried to get to the best position that we could before we moved. I was not afraid of making the move, foolhardy perhaps, almost certainly naïve, unrealistically optimistic, definitely anxious but not afraid.
However, since we have been here I think I have seen real bravery; in our daughter. She has had to leave a life that she loved, with family and lots of friends at school and in our wider community. It has been a very difficult move for her and like all of us she has found ways of expressing her anger and sadness, most of which have been quite challenging for us. Yes, she was afraid on her first day but she walked into her classroom. With help and encouragement from us and her new teacher she survived the first day and even smiled when we picked her up at lunchtime (it helped that Granny and Grandpa had come over for her first week and had promised to take her out for lunch). Her teachers at her new school have reassured us that she is progressing well and has even started to ‘help’ in their English lessons. She has overcome her fears, learning to live a life in a different language and make friends. Yes, like us she misses the people we have left behind but technology allows us to keep in touch. She continues to blame us for making her leave her family and friends but lives in hope of the dog that we promised her we would find once we had a permanent home here. This is one hope that we will do everything we can to fulfil although I am not sure about her plans for the dog to have a litter of puppies that she can keep as well …