Editor's Note: I met Habibeh last year while reporting on refugees stuck in limbo in Indonesia. She is a brilliant young woman whose hopes of becoming a lawyer were dashed when she was forced to flee a dangerous homeland. Now she's stuck in a country with no legal protections, no opportunity to work, and little chance of being resettled elsewhere. When I spoke with her, she astounded me with her intelligence and passion for justice, as well as her mastery of English (which she just started learning in 2017). I've left her essay unedited because the raw pain and beauty of her words should be read exactly as they were written.
It has been a while since we heard you arrived to our planet. To be honest, your arrival was glorious for me. I heard you hit everyone the same way. Whoever opens the door for you. Whoever inadvertently invites you in. You accept everyone's invitation. You do not look at their wealth and their position. You become a guest in their bodies and their spirits. I heard that you asked everyone to stay at home. You closed every party, gathering, business trip and recreational hangout. You changed the rules.
You are the first disaster that did not follow just the miserable country to country, city to city, town to town, street to street, house to house. Your destination was not just my home country to kill my people. You're not thinking of race and belief. You did not come to insult us, to humiliate us, to crush our cracked pride and add salt to our wounds. You did not just come to make rules and take away what remains for us: our lives and our hope of union with our beloved ones. You didn't come to look down at us. We were not your only target. You see us like other human beings. You didn't just go to my home country to destroy it more than it already is.
That is why I want to have a little chat with you.