Rosario, Colombian refugee: “A house is more than a home. It’s being able to settle in again”

As a refugee, you remember perfectly the date you arrived at your new country. It’s like a second birthday.” Rosario’s date was October 2008. She arrived in Barcelona from Colombia. There she was a doctor and a human rights defender, in particular against anti-personnel mines.

I received constant threats until the situation became untenable. One day, my son told me: ‘I prefer having a mother alive, although you live away from us.’ It was a complicated decision, but I left alone.”

As a part of the asylum program, in Barcelona, I received a grant for a year. From there, you are on your own. I was sharing an apartment with two roommates, but they left, and I couldn’t pay the rent alone. But for me, it was important to stay at that house. A house is more than a home; it’s being able to settle in in a new country.”

I started sharing those spare rooms through Airbnb. And I still work for the refugees’ rights, I do workshops at schools…

It’s an act of justice to treat refugees as peers and make sure their primary needs are covered. But from there, the civil society can do a lot of things to help. We can become ambassadors of our own city and explain the newly arrived everyday things, like the transportation system, how recycling works…

We have to understand that a refugee not only wants to live: she intends to live with dignity. Refugees don’t come looking for a better life. They left behind a better life.”