In his newly-revised, controversial executive order, President Trump suspended significant parts of the United States refugee program for 120 days and also decreased the number of refugees allowed into our country by 50%. It blocks the entry of people who are suffering greatly and are fleeing their country because of persecution.
I feel personally connected to the refugee issue because some of my grandparents and great-grandparents were refugees who fled Nazi persecution. My grandmother, Rivka Maruvka, escaped from the slave-labor camp Sered, Czechoslovakia and hid in an underground bunker for a year. My great-grandfather, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, ran away from Nazi Germany after Hitler came to power because he was targeted for his anti-Nazi activities. It is only because of brave people who welcomed them that I am alive today.
Most of us have no idea what hardships refugees must suffer in order to escape violence and war. In this poem, I have tried to imagine what some refugees are experiencing in their flight to freedom.We must learn from the past and realize that it is our moral obligation to do everything we can to welcome refugees into our country. If the government won’t provide them a safe haven, we must individually organize and find ways to provide refugees with a safe place to live.
Hell on Earth
Pain, hunger, fatigue, and fear
feelings that I experience
in my journey to find shelter.
In the blazing hot desert
I am being roasted
over a fire.
I walk barefoot on the flaming sand
wishing I were already dead.
My feet are being stabbed by thorns
like a warrior in battle getting speared.
Every minute in the desert
an hour of torture.
When my body cries out for water
It receives only 1%
for I can only drink drops
when my body desires gallons.
I stubbed my toe on a rock
my whole toenail came off
the pain is unbearable.
barely have any food or water
but to survive
we must withstand these excruciating conditions.
These days in the desert,
hardest of my life
can I make it through?
And as I endure these hardships
I think to myself
my family, my sweet family
are they alive
This question is tearing me apart.
As I walk with my fellow refugees in the scorching heat
we see people lying on the ground
I could tell man did not kill them
It was the desert that committed this heinous crime.
But some of these men are alive
they are on the last breaths of their lives
women are giving them water to save them
but people are yelling
“You will die just like they! Don’t give them your water!”
They are right but also wrong.
All of us refugees
ripped from our homes by violence
and to find a haven
we are experiencing hell on earth.
Niv Leibowitz is an 8th-grade student at the Berman Hebrew Academy. He enjoys playing basketball, practicing piano, doing parkour and making friends with kids of all backgrounds.