It was one summer night. Even if my watch counter read 02:00 a.m., life in the refugee camp where I lived for years was still in fast lane. Usually, most of us were nocturnal, active at night and vegetating on bed during the day. Returning to my room from a long walk, I met one of my friends on the narrow corridor and he invited me for a cup of tea. I was really feeling dehydrated; therefore, I took his offer. In his room, comforting myself on a worn out chair, I updated my choice from a cup of hot tea to a glass of soft drink. My generous friend opened the refrigerator and reached me with a flask of cold water, filled in a 1.5 liter Pepsi container. As he poured down the tap water into the nickel glass that placed on the bamboo table, I felt sad. Of course, since most of us were and even still are not able to afford buying soft drinks so often with 900 Kr per fortnight, we usually fill flask of soft drinks with tab water and place them in a refrigerator throughout summer. The cause of my sadness on that day was the cruelty of life we are dealing with still today.
While enjoying our chit chat, I become worried about my friend who was sitting near by the fully opened window, and smoking one cigarette over the other. It seemed like he smoked three cigarettes in less than twenty minutes and when he was about to light up the fourth, I interfered. I asked him politely to wait a little while and longer the smoking interval. He agreed, and I continued suggesting to drop this addict or to decrease the number, at least. However, his answer made me feel stupid and ignorant. “I am not an addict…” my friend answered, “It is not what … I want but I and many of us here smoke cigarette just to paralyze our natural urge for food. As the financial aid we earn every month is not able to sustain our life with the required food, drinks, clothes, and other expenses like communications in one of the most expensive market niches of the world, we have no other choice than investing almost two third of our money on smuggled, cheap, and expired cigarettes. Besides …” He smiled and added, “we are not pressurized to pay at hand, we can get it on a credit base and … you know … pay it latter.” As the cigarette in his careless fingers burnt down, I was dreaming his health ash away.
Even if his answer gave me a heavy heart, failing to understand his and other fellow asylum seekers’ cheap but dangerous means of survival made me feel light head. In fact, I have heard that many of our sisters used to drink a lot of coffee per day for the same cause. Still, it is true that the number of slices of bread they eat per day is less than the number of cups of coffee they sip to disable their appetite. Once, I remember, when Erna Solberg was holding the scepter, we had committee collecting money to buy coffee for a woman who was thrown out of the camp without any economic support. You may ask why we didn’t invest the money on food instead of coffee. That is right but the contribution we made out of the meager allowance we receive from UDI is by far lower than the amount of any ordinary Norwegian family allocating for his/her domestic pet. Moreover, as I tell it above, like cigarette, coffee was and still is the worthy anesthesia against the pain of hunger.
You may drink coffee every morning to start your day, but our sisters in refugee camp use it to end (close) their appetite. You may think smoking cigarettes could make you broke, but brothers in Norway’s asylum shelter know better, it can also break your neurological impulse for meals. Unfortunately, throughout all this decade, the price of coffee and tobacco is racing upward while case-rejected asylum seekers’ allowance, which once suffered a merciless punch and broke in half by the heavy and muscular arm of Her Excellency Solberg, treads on its mark.
I wonder why the media became so astonished as the Conservative Party Leader, Erna Solberg dropped just a few kilo of weight and seen a bit slimmer, whereas her harsh policy on asylum seekers made thousandth loose all their flesh and bone to look a walking ghost. Answering for interview, her honor Erna Solberg says “first and foremost, I have given priority to exercise more … I’ve stopped smoking and try to exercise and the healthy eating and stuff like that.” Good job! I am supportive here … push it up … lift it more your honor… this exercise is not only rewarding weight loss but also emaciation of papirløs. But how much fold is her monthly allowance to the gym compared to our 900 NKr per fortnight. I mean the money she spends in a month to stay fit compared to the amount we earn to stay alive and to keep breath.
Her Honor’s policy that slashed the allowance of case-rejected asylum seekers has left many to contract lung and cardiovascular diseases. I still remember there was even a time when case-rejected asylum seekers were thrown out on the freezing streets of north pole without any financial aid, and fell in the mercy hands of good Samaritan Norwegians. Here, if there is one thing I shall emphasis, most of the Norwegian society have played UNFORGETTABLE role to keep our brothers and sisters alive, without any help from the government.
One doesn’t need to be a chain smoker or excessive coffee user to understand the sheer effect of it on human physiological as well as psychological health. It might be hard for Her Honor Erna Solberg to see how many innocent refugees are plunged into the merciless jaw of cancer as a result of her policy. But, being one of the several ambassadors for LHL, Norwegian Heart and Lung sick campaign, she needs to sympathizes the impasse we are trapped in, as a result of her policy which is in effect since nine/ten years ago. Generating a policy which is conducive for cancerous pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases and being victims’ good will representative sounds naïve. Otherwise, not to anger the Ambassador, let me close my word with a prayer to God, asking Him to redefine the biblical promise “the poor ye shall always have with you” … as… the diseased shall always be with you!