This story can be photocopied, but it must not be sold by anyone other than the author. Please email the author if you wish to use or buy this story for publication.


by Rod Smith

We read of him as a statistic, but he is a person who has emotions, feelings, fears. He is a human being like anyone else.

He remembers waking up not to the birds singing but a chorus of gunfire or people screaming as they are beaten. He doesn't know what a 747 is - has never flown in one - but he knows all about an AK 47.

He has no retirement plan, he just wants to escape from the daily misery. He has never heard of stocks and shares. He thinks not about superannuation and cosy retirement but what he might scrounge to put on the table today.

Ice cream is not in his vocabulary. McDonalds would mean nothing to him.

He reflects on the Taliban fleeing, and remembers the banning of girls in his school class. Somewhere on the streets behind that mass of linen and veils he'd seen a person whose face he could only imagine. He had wanted to talk to her but feared the Religious Police.

He is in a camp now. His beard is gone but the misery remains. His home is a dusty tent. No television, or stereo player. No hot water tap close to hand. The only air conditioning he knows comes from the breeze outside - if there is one.

"Going for a drink" to him means not to the local RSL or the pub, but an agonising wait to use a single water tap shared by hundreds of others.

Let us think of all this before we categorise him and turn him away.