Becoming a Refugee

By Deng Duot

Dimma Refugee Camp
June 2004

The actual moment,
Of Exile,
Is like an illness.
You are ill,
With rage.

To each family,
It means closing the door,
On friends, culture, your native country.

One year is an exile,
Compared to ten years.

Ten years,
Means nothing,
In the history of the country.

But for a human being,
Is a long time.
For a child,
A life time.
Some of us,
We’re born in Ethiopian camps.

Peace is ’round the corner,
What I call home,
Will still be,
Another exile.
I don’t know home.

What an irony,
To become a refugee.

[14-year-old Deng Duot, a Sudanese refugee, presented this poem
during the 2004 World Refugee Day commemorations in Ethiopia.]

Please let me know if you have some great recommendations on art pieces that invite to an understanding of the refugee’s life and challenges.


About Brita Fladvad Nielsen

I'm a Postdoctoral researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. My focus is on Smart Energy Communities in urban settings as well as design of energy-devices for emergency settings and design for humanitarian markets, especially for refugee camps in rural areas of Africa. I blog about my research approach Design Thinking on and about humanitarian design at . I am also a mother of a child who is deaf, and I blog about her language development on
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