We Are Not Refugees

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

accidentally sent the review for the wrong book; actual review to come, sorry!!!!! looking forward to reading this though.
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I believe that this is such an important book to read, especially in today's crisis of humanity. Agus Morales talks with the people who lives have been interrupted by war, drug violence, and collapsed economies. The major consensus among the displaced population is they just want to go  back to their homes but they cannot.  People risk their lives trying to better. Those who are traveling from Central America through Mexico to get to the United States risk run-ins with criminals, rapists, traffickers and other threats. People fleeing through the Mediterranean risk drowning or being attacked on the open sea. Syrians head for Turkey to avoid being bombed or shot. However, bullets in these places are not the only things causing death. Hospitals are being targeted by bombs and ransacked. Doctors are murdered. People cannot get medical care they need. Basic human rights are being neglected or stripped away. Babies are being born on boats or as I come to call it, the land of the in-between. 

I will warn you this book was hard to read. Reading the experiences from the mouths of the displaced was heartbreaking. We need to ask ourselves... what would we do if we were in there position? How far would you go for your friends, family, and children in trouble? We need to look at the origins on why people are on the move and figure out how it can be rectified. 

I also learned something else reading this book. Just because they are displaced does not mean they were poor. There was an interview with a man who owned a factory in Syria that made him 1500 a day. It was destroyed during the fighting. Him and his family are currently on there way to Oslo but would rather go back to Syria to rebuild their lives. So when you see a refugee with a cell phone don't assume they don't still need help. That is a ridiculous assumption and one I will strive to keep in mind for the future. 

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with early access to this book in return for an honest review.
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Read More Book Reviews on my Blog It's Good To Read - Link: http://ebookwormssite.wordpress.com

Approximately 65 million people are considered displaced, as of today. This number is roughly comparable to the total population of the United Kingdom, or all of California and Texas combined.

This book attempts the impossible, to put a face to the refugee, to put a name on the internally-displaced person, and a story behind the suffering. It aims to rise above both the alarmist rhetoric as well as challenging the belief that all refugees are essentially the same, to give brief but comprehensive and indicative stories of the people themselves, the displaced, by the people themselves.

Main Characters:
Agus Morales is the main character, as through his eyes we see the stories unfolding, from the current Syrian conflict, to the almost-forgotten Afghan crisis, to the ignored parlous state of affairs in central Africa, and the vulnerability and helplessness of people making the hazardous trip through central South America to the Mexican border. Hazardous is actually too soft and small a word for the experience of all these people, when you read of the stories of kidnappings, rapes, tortures, beatings, exploitation, and the myriad other ways people can inflict pain and misery on each other.

The book covers people and events in four continents, (these being Europe, Asia, South America and Africa). With 65 million people directly affected, the list of countries involved is almost too numerous to count – we are currently familiar with Syria, but the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico amongst others all have stories encompassing equal amounts of horror and tragedy.

There are five sections to the book, covering off: why people leave their home, who are the people making these dangerous journeys, how do they survive when they reach a camp, how do they get there, and finally when do they arrive? He bookends this very nicely by inviting the reader to imagine how she/he would manage, if they had to leave everything they knew, and go to a country that didn’t speak their language, and treated them as a huge burden? He challenges us when asking what would drive us to kill our neighbour, or them us, and what would our limits be?

This book attempts to highlight what has happened, and is continuing to happen, to displaced persons. Refugees, by the way, is a word that does not include everybody – people who have left their own town due to conflict but remain within the borders of their own country are “displaced”, and as such “rank lower” in terms of media coverage.

Throughout the author’s experience, and he has been reporting on this for well over a decade, he finds a large number of the displaced people were relatively well-off “back home”, with many being highly qualified, and/or having run their own successful business. One even had a massive factory. These were the people with the wherewithal to pay to be smuggled out of the country. They were not in any sense living in the lap of luxury, it was just that their path was made slightly easier by the ability to grease some palms along the way. By contrast, for those without the means, the book opens with the harrowing true story of a young boy who was alone, friendless, tortured and raped, and finally who died on board a rescue ship, in sight of freedom. The point was made that, had he died in Libya, no-one would ever have known he even existed.

Though the stories are necessarily short, and a lot of people did not want to either be interviewed or give their real names for fear of reprisals, the author gets to the point very quickly. There is no overt moralising, for no-one can dispute the suffering that is involved. No privileged person, of whom I am one, can possibly realise the depths these people have plumbed, in order to gain safety for themselves and their families. A particularly brave doctor in Aleppo, Muhammed Abyad, stood out for me, as he risked death every day for standing up for his patients, and for treating every one of them equally, in spite of frequent warnings and threats to his life.

What I Liked:
- I liked how the author tried to give us the bigger picture, by describing the camps, and giving a deeper context to the huge movements of people.
- I liked the people telling their own stories, direct and unadulterated, without the prism of a particular media source. They were honest and heart-rending.

What I Didn’t Like:
This was a hard-hitting piece of work, based on fact and the author’s own direct research and real-life experience, and one can only respect the danger to which he exposed himself, to bring us these stories.

The author makes a good fist of being objective, but his humanity does come through, and between the lines you feel his outrage at how lives are commoditized. He has done this work for years, and while the faces change, the eyes always tell the same story. Most people don’t consider themselves refugees, and most only want to go home, to pick up the threads of their old lives in peace. He readily admits there are bad people making the journey as well, but the vast majority do not want to be there, and are only doing so out of dire need.

The reader is left to make up his/her own mind, as the author lays out cogent facts and statistics to be digested. This is not a dry narrative, as the humanity in each story pervades the whole book. There will always be those who decry the facts, call refugees “invaders”, and seek to be alarmist and so on.

For me, I was left thinking about what I would do. As a parent, I would not let my young child go into the shallow end of a swimming pool without the inflatable armbands. As a parent, I was reading about Afghan women, who being from a land-locked country had never seen the sea, taking their similarly-aged children out on a rickety boat, taking eight days and nights to cross the notorious Mediterranean Sea. It brings home to me the hard, punishing desperate situation these people are fleeing from, and gives me a deeper understanding and compassion.

An important, informative, harrowing book – definitely recommended.

My thanks to the author and to NetGalley, for giving me a free copy of this book, in return for an honest and objective review.
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We Are Not Refugees by Agus Morales is a powerful book that prompts lots of questions and emotions from the reader. This book provides a window into the lives of those willing to risk everything in order to have a better life. The author shares stories of people fleeing their country for various reasons. This book is relevant and is so appropriate for opening a discussion on immigration and our recent political stance. It makes you see the human side of this issue – they are people first. It made me question what it would be like to be in that situation. Needing to flee our country for whatever reason and trying to find safety and comfort in a strange land. This is not something you can even begin to imagine happening yet so many experience this daily. Very impactful and important read! This book left me thinking long after the reading ended. 

I received an advance copy of this book from Net Galley in an exchange for an honest review.
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We Are Not Refugees by Agus Morales was hard for me to read because it depicts the extreme pain of people seeking safety from war, gang violence, extreme poverty, etc. Although safety is their main concern, I think they are also seeking a home where they can permanently settle and live a normal life. The author demonstrates that these people are more than refugees. They are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, etc. This is an important book that I think should be read by everyone, especially in light of what’s happening on our southern border right now. I highly recommend this very important book.
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A really gripping and powerful read. Morales weaves the story together perfectly with captivating writing. A great read.
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Heartbreaking. I just spent the winter reading about refugees during and after WW2. So sad that our world still hasn't changed so very much. This is a must read book about today's refugees . It's pretty comprehensive. It covers all the refugees from every continent and why they are displaced.well-written and well researched.
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I still wonder why I picked this book to read from those suggested for me by NetGalley.  A book about refugees?  That sounds fun.  Then I remembered that several of my ancestors would have been refugees if they had wanted to go home rather than immigrate.  Those who fled Islamic radicalism and government exclusion.  These are my roots, and I have a long forgotten connection to these people today.

Morales invited me into the lives of these people, like me, running with their families from their homes.  They have no desire to run.  No desire to leave.  They love their homes, countries, and neighborhoods.  War has forced them to leave.  Their homes were taken from them.  And, they have nowhere to go.  Closed borders, distrust, and dangerous routes have made them residents of inhuman "refugee" camps.

These are not stories that are heard in the news.  These are not stories that are told by politicians in the United States.  These are people that I have been shown to fear.  These are the people that the United States, and by extension, I, are preventing from protecting an providing for here; the land of opportunity; the nation of immigrants.

What is truly interesting about this book is that Morales so pulled me into these lives that I, a right-center individual, would want to bring as many of these fleeing people as possible into my country, into my town, into my house.
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It's written by a journalist who covers refugees and displaced persons around the world. He tells the stories of the people he's met and the situations he's observed.
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The content is overall good for teaching about the plight of refugees but lacks depth on the political side
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This is an important book that deserves to be read widely. Spanning four continents (Asia, Europe, Africa, Central America) and an impressive multitude of countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, Jordan Greece, Libya, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Mexico), the book tells the story of the displacement of unprecedented numbers of people in conditions that deteriorate yearly for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Morales tells this story with humanity and humility. His aim is to allow the voices of the displaced to come through – not to superimpose his own preconceptions or prejudices upon them but try to hear, to bear witness and in turn transmit to others.

The book itself is the product of years of reporting from areas badly hit by wars and/or humanitarian catastrophes. As the title makes clear, it both *is* and is *not* a book about refugees. One of Morales’ key points that is repeated often in the course of the book is that only a small minority of people who find that they have to move (because of lethal and catastrophic wars, e.g. in Syria, or because it is impossible to continue to live safely in their countries (e.g. Honduras) are actually refugees. Many of them do not perceive themselves as refugees, perhaps because in their country of origin they were respectable, well-off people. Others because - after crossing into neighbouring territory (e.g. from the Central African Republic to Chad) and then attempting to go back – they found they had no identifiable status and could neither lead a normal life nor lay claim to aid.

In telling the stories of these (non-) refugees Morales attempts to debunk various false dichotomies, such as for example the one between (deserving) refugees fleeing wars and (undeserving, economic) migrants who are out to make a quick buck. His wonderful essay on those fleeing central America because they constantly run the risk of being robbed, beaten up or killed ("The Spirit of the Migrant Shelters, Ixtepec-Mexico") makes that crystal clear. He also clarifies how difficult it is to tell between the victims, the smugglers and the gang members who take advantage of the plight of desperate people; as a journalist, he says, he has to be suspicious and raise the questions that his audience wants answered, as a human being, however, he feels that his job is not to pass judgement or categorise but to bear witness.

The book is divided in five parts: 1. “Why are they fleeing?”, 2. “Flights: Who are they?”, 3. “The Camps: Where do they live?”, 4. “Routes: How do they travel?” and 5. “Destinations: When do they arrive?” Not all the essays are of uniform quality, however some are real gems that I think everyone should read. The chapter on “The Forgotten Lake Kivu” touched me deeply with its combination of factual analysis and personal self-examination. Consider the following excerpt:

”By focusing on the logic of war, do we run the risk of dehumanising the suffering of rape survivors? Of representing it as just one ore ingredient – normal, natural – of conflict? […] Of speaking only of “victims”, and not of “survivors”? Among the Kivu, yes, I found stories of villages being attacked, militia’s strategies to destroy the enemy […] but mostly I saw something much more obvious, to which little attention is ever paid, but which has a profound impact on the lives of thousands of women: rape is a weapon of forced displacement. Not even a bombing is so effective at ousting entire villages. I’ve spoken to Syrian refugees who wanted to go back to the inferno of Aleppo, I’ve spoken to Central American migrants who did not take a dim view of returning to neighborhoods controlled by gangs, but I haven’t spoken to single Congolese woman who’d been a victim of sexual violence during an armed attack who wanted to go home” (pp. 93-4)

This is the strength of We are not refugees: Morales is not simply doing a job reporting on war and human movement but at each moment he is ready to question his own motives, volunteer his thoughts and analysis, and offer his interviewees not only an ear but the sympathy of a full human being who relates to them both during the interview and after the interview is over.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested to know more about refugees/displaced people either from a political/sociological point of view of from a human perspective. Those considering to join/volunteer for an NGO should read this book; even if they’re already familiar with certain regions of the world, it’s likely they will find in this book a wealth of information and humanity. Which leaves out those who see refugees as undeserving scroungers that need to be sent back as soon as possible. What to do about them, how to open their eyes and ears to what’s happening in the world today? I frankly don’t know how to answer this question but I hope that somehow Morales’ book will find its way even to those.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital advance review copy.
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"We Are Not Refugees" shares personal stories of individuals who are forced to flee from war, violence, persecution, and economic hardship. Agus Morales is a journalist who travels to war-torn nations to experience the reality on the ground first hand. He visits local NGO's, accompanies individuals on escape routes, and conducts countless interviews, which accumulates a powerful narrative from both internally displaced peoples and citizens who have escaped their homeland. This book is informational and gives background for each country's conflict, but at it's core the author provides rhetoric identifying the term "refugee" by examining the depth that label holds. The word "refugee" is embedded with layers of emotions, experiences, politics, stereotypes, etc. that are all associated with the term. Morales' account with people from all over the world dives deep into the reality of our current "refugee" crisis, and yet this is just the beginning of the conversation that needs to take place. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to build their knowledge of current affairs and anyone who has a heart for people who are displaced and forced to start over.
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We Are Not Refugees is an account of some of the movements of people fleeing from war and other kinds of violence. The title comes from the fact that many of them will never achieve the official status of refugee, mostly because other countries (particularly western ones) don't want to let them in. Others don't want the status, don't think of themselves as refugees but as people longing to return to their own homes, of a time when their homes will again be safe. They are all known as Internally Displaced People (IDP) a label that does not begin to describe their suffering.

Morales is a journalist who has interviewed people who are part of these movements. Many live in refugee camps under appalling conditions. A few of the stories are success ones: people who have successfully relocated, been accepted as citizens of other countries and are making new lives for themselves, through hard work and determination. But most of the people are still struggling. Morales leaves us with the impression that many--or most--of them will never have a home.

The places he goes to include the Central Republic of Africa (which he describes as the hollow center of Africa, a place unseen and uncared about by the rest of the world), Syria, several countries in Central America, and Afghanistan. He concludes with a moving study of the Tibetan community in exile: a group of people struggling to keep their culture, traditions, and religion intact even though many have never even been to Tibet, have been born and raised in exile.

Morales is often in the center of the action, boarding buses with refugees, participating in a boat rescue of migrants escaping on small boats in danger of sinking. He clearly has a strong background as an involved journalist and cares passionately about his subject. 

One thing that Morales repeated stresses is the need to see the migrants as people first, to not let their humanity be lost behind their condition, behind what they have been forced to do. By thinking of them as immigrants, refugees, or migrants first, it is easy to lose sight of their suffering, to distance oneself and see them as "other", people not like ourselves, people who often has lives like our own before violence came to their countries or who would, given the opportunity, be just like we are. Thinking of them only by their current situations allows us to more easily ignore and reject them.

Morales provides much valuable background information about the situations in the different countries and camps he visits as well as painting a strong picture of how people are currently coping. However, the book is strongest when he allows the people to speak for themselves. Listening to their voices is a powerful experience and the best way to see them as he wishes: people first.

This is an important book for our times. There are so many refugees and "non-refugees" at this time and many more are expected as wars continue and spread. It was a painful but enlightening book.

I am grateful to NetGalley, Charlesbridge Publishers, and Agus Morales for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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What is it like to be a refugee? Human rights journalist Agus Morales tries to answer this vivid question through this book. In the process, he defines a few other terms for the refugee population, viz. migrants, internally displaced persons, and returnees, and explains how they are one and the same, even though laws/rights significantly vary for each of those groups.

The book gets one thinking whether the refugees are really refugees, or are they just non-refugees, as the title says. Through short interviews of the people displaced due to war, the author also debunks quite many myths surrounding the refugee population, mostly the ones formed by people who have never been in such a situation.

The heart touching stories shared by people who have gone through the worst of times in order to survive makes one think of the degrading state of humanity as a whole, and the tough political stances taken by those in power or otherwise. There are success stories as well as those of infinite failures seeking asylum, but the trifle success rate makes one's heart pound. Truly privileged are those who'll never have to go through all that a refugee does.

I would like to thank the author and the publisher for the ARC.

Verdict: Highly recommended.
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There are numerous books covering refugees of various failed States, wars, gangs and other acts of brutality.  Sometimes like [book:City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp|25659407] they look at one specific refugee camp, others cover the journey or the reasons for flight.  In this new book, the Spanish author looks at the causes of flight in three war zones (Syria, Afghanistan and DRC), the camps they find themselves at (Jordan, South Sudan and Mexico), the routes they travel (Mexico, Mediterranean Sea and across Europe), and what happens when they arrive (Europe and India).  He tries to put a label on these refugees, displaced persons, exiles, asylum seekers or whatever.  In the end he realises that they are people who do not want labels and do not want to be where they are or where they are going to.  His book is full of interviews of sadness, resolution, resentment, terror, trauma and occasional a little hope.  He probably has not achieved his aim in writing this book as the scale of the human tragedies cannot be truly understood by those living the life of security, affluence and ignorance.
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i Have not read a book as powerful as this one in a long time. The author brings you inside so that you can feel the emotional roller coaster ride that you are on once you start reading this book. I really cannot even put it into words. If you read this book, you will understand what I am trying to say. The authors writing ability is amazing. Hold on while reading this one..... you are in for the ride of your life.

5 stars ⭐️ out of 5

Thanks to netgalley and the author/publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this ebook for my honest review.
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Note: I received an ARC in exchange for a review from Netgalley.

"We Are Not Refugees" by journalist/author Agus Morales thoroughly and intelligently explains the historical context and nuances throughout each chapter so that the readers can fully comprehend the various wars and political strifes that are occurring around the world, the crisis at the US/Mexican border, the politics in policymaking whether it's the number of refugees one country is going to take inverses another or just the definition between Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees, and migrants. As you read the book, one phrase will stick out to you, "we are not refugees" or "I am not a refugee." Morales shows through the stories he shares of people are more than that. They are mothers, fathers, children, sons, sisters, brothers, daughters, doctors, teachers, journalists etc., not just wanting to safety from war or gang violence, or wanting a better life away from abject poverty they are all yearning for a home that they can permanently settle in and call home or even go back home. 

With recent current events with the separation of children and parents at the US/Mexico border, the migration stories of El Salvadorans and Guatemalans stuck out the most. Morale's takes you on a journey with stories shared by people he interviewed as to why citizens of these countries are willing to risk their lives on a dangerous journey to come to America. He tells of the difficulties and entrapments these people are willing to take every day to find refuge and to live a life of fairness and justice. 

The best way for us to understand what is going on in the world around us is best said by Morales, 

"But to come closer to understanding their situation, we must listen to them speak not only of hardship, but of hope; not only of moments of crisis and escape, but also the tedium of waiting, and of uncertainty. Only then can we engage in the cultural battle to define who these people are. And maybe the answer is much simpler than we thought."

There is a glimmer of light and hope brought to the book which is more relevant now. Stories like this must be told and must remain current and not drowned out. I will share more of my notes on my blog in the next couple of days. #NetGalley #WeAreNotRefugees
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The book delivers exactly what it promises - voices of the modern-day displaced from all over the world. And in a time where too many people are all too willing to brush off, ignore, or fear those driven away from their homes, "We Are Not Refugees" is exactly the kind of book we need far more of. 

I look forward to getting this added into my library's collection.
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We are not refugees 4.5⭐️

This showed Empowering bravery and courage for those who had to flee, they were refugees but for those that survived and now thrive... they are no longer refugees. 

There was something so beautiful about the pain and saving their stories were brought to life and made me feel like i was watching them.

"Millions of people flee violence every year, but most will never attain official refugee status, whether in the United States or anywhere else."

"But to come closer to understanding their situation, we must listen to them speak not only of hardship, but of hope; not only of moments of crisis and escape, but also the tedium of waiting, and of uncertainty."

He had so many statements that just pulled me in and made see into their world. 

These are stories of different refugees and how they survived and how they live now after everything they have been through. 

Our first refugee is a young boy. He was along and tortured and forced into a detention center. This boy was put through hell right away and he had no one fighting for him. To help free him

"tried to resuscitate him for half an hour, but he died of pulmonary edema, according to his death certificate. If Ulet had died in Libya, no one would ever have known. I wanted to write a book about people who, like Ulet, are fleeing war, political persecution, and torture."

We get alot of facts about refugees and the number of people across the world that went through different types of pain and suffering. This book was difficult to read because personally I dont like to see others in pain. Im not vein i know the pain that lies in everyone and i know that there are horrible things happening all over the world. I know that there is poverty and detention centers i know these things happen. Lucky I don't have to witness it myself so seeing her perspective and her experience was heart warming and heart breaking. 

"W hy do we kill each other? What kind of reason would drive you to kill? Would you take up arms for your country? For your values? For a flag? For your family? Have you ever killed anyone? Would it be easy for you to kill? Do you think the full force of the law would be brought against you? Do you have weapons in your home? And what if you did? What are your limits? Would you kill if everyone around you were doing it? Do you think your neighbor could kill you? Or any of your loved ones?"

"Do you believe walls are necessary? What about borders? What should be done about population influxes? Do you think they should be controlled? Do you feel threatened by those seeking refuge? Would you risk your life and those of your children by boarding a migrant boat, even if you didn’t know how to swim?"

Only the fresh eyes of the neighbors, somewhere between fearful and indifferent, excited and cautious, betray that Osama bin Laden is dead, and they don’t know what to do"

A doctor is more dangerous then a fighter. That stuck with me. Let that sink in for a moment and just think. We think of a doctor as someone who is helpful and a fighter is someone that protects or hurts depending on the situation. I thought it was just really interesting to view as doctor as dangerous but also all to true. 

“Yes, I’m feeling much better. I was in the hospital for a long time. Before, I felt like I was in jail. Now at least I’m with my family.”

Akram Jabri, sixty years old, still can’t believe it. He used to have a soap factory in Aleppo, the economic capital of Syria. He made a lot of money. But his factory was destroyed by fighting between the Syrian regime and the armed opposition. He left Syria with his wife, two children, his son-in-law, and three grandchildren. He paid smugglers to get to the Greek island of Lesbos by boat. 
Their lives for those who got to have a life after is so sad and so beautiful. He got out. 

The other effect: why would they need our help? They have money; they pay the smugglers; they’re far from helpless. Why don’t they sell their phones, their belongings? There are people in greater need. As if it mattered more to the people making that journey to eat every day than to orient themselves and communicate with others farther north, with those who know which borders are being closed and can warn of the dangers; as if a compass weren’t what you need most in a desert."

I thought that statement summed up what people think or dont even think to think becuaseso many people take everything for granted and then you read stories like this and see that we are spoiled humans and need to take a step back and see if there is anything we can do to help just around home even. 

The woman is from Afghanistan. I can’t understand what she’s saying since I speak neither Dari nor Pashtun; perhaps I don’t want to understand what she’s saying."
I didnt even take into account that the language barrier makes things even more difficult. 

 This is a story of many different refugees and how they made it or how they died. We start with a young boy who escaped and detention penitentiary and made it to freedom only to die due to his injuries and sickness soon after being free. Its not what we want to hear. We want to hear that everything is okay, we want reality to be fiction. We want to hear that the little boy escaped and grew up and lived to tell his grandchildren about his journey. But Agus showed us the truth and the truth is sad and hard to read at times but im glad someone was able to put their experience and feelings about this down on paper. 
We follow other stories, some happy, some not so much and we follow Agus and how she delt with everything while being right in the middle of it. 

-.5 The only thing that slowly the story down was the political information facts. Yes I do think it is important for us to know whats going on but at times it was a bit much. 

Thank you so much to imagine via netgalley for sending me an ARC copy of We are not refugees by Agus Morales. This will be available on March 5th, 2019. All opinions are my way. 
Its a long time from now but it will be worth the wait.
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