07 November 2015

The New York Times: “A Train Journey From Communism to Freedom, Almost Ended in Hungary”

More than three decades ago, my mother, grandmother and I boarded a train in communist Romania, armed with the papers my mother had painstakingly gathered in an effort to give me a better life. I was 5 years old, and I had been told we were going on a holiday to Paris. I realized something was wrong when my surrogate grandfather Tata Geo (Father Geo) broke into sobs as we left the house.

It was March 7, 1979, and you needed special permission to leave the totalitarian country; passports were issued only to those who could prove they were returning. That meant that anyone who tried to leave for good was forced to break the law, and the consequences for getting caught made the decision to leave as final and harrowing then as it is today for the thousands of migrants arriving on Europe’s shores.

Rukmini Callimachi

An emotional story recalling a dangerous escape out of Communist Romania. The girl in question is now a foreign correspondent for The New York Times covering Islamic extremism, and a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist. For people who seek to shun refugees, it should serve as a reminder that not to long ago they could have found themselves in a similar situation – and that, given proper opportunities, migrants will enrich and contribute to the society accepting them.

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