I’m a migrant. It’s somewhat of a dirty and emotive word at the moment, polarising people into sympathy or anger.
I’m in a different class to the flood of humans trying to make their way north from Africa.
By that I’m not giving myself air and graces: I mean that I chose to migrate.
I chose to leave my home town, my family, my friends and move, well, as far around the world as you can get without starting to go back again.
I wasn’t forced from my home by violence, by war, by terror of people and what they might do to me and to my family.
I caught a taxi to the airport and I got on a plane.
I was welcomed into my new country with a smile and a stamp in my passport that allowed me to stay, look for work, make new friends.
I had a container full of my belongings shipped out to me, things that helped me feel at home in an alien country.
I didn’t have to flee in the dead of night and put myself in the hands of unscrupulous people who would take my money without, in return, giving me the safe passage I expected.
I didn’t have to get into a leaky boat, not being sure whether I would step out of it onto land or be tossed out of it while still on the black sea.
I didn’t have to hold razor wire up, feel it cut into my bare hands, whilst my wife and child scrambled underneath it.
I didn’t have to leave everything behind, taking with me only what I could carry.
I was born into a country that hasn’t seen fighting on its soil for a couple of hundred years at least.
I was lucky that country stayed stable, is still. I made a choice to leave that country to experience living elsewhere.
These poor souls making treacherous journeys aren’t as lucky.
They were born into relative stability, they had all the benefits of modern living we all take for granted.
They didn’t choose to leave. They fled for their lives, searching for a safe haven.
I bet, given the choice, they’d rather have stayed where they were, safe and happy at home. Ask them.
I’m a lucky migrant, thankful for the accident of birth that let me be so.
Tracy Annenberg, a Stocksbridge ex-pat in New Zealand