By Beatriz Hortigüela, EUAV in La Paz, Bolivia.
Translated by Meyssoune Mansour.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) defines the migrant term as «a person who moves away from his or her place of usual residence, whether within a country or across an international border, regardless of the person’s legal status; whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary; what the causes for the movement are ; or what the length of the stay is.»
Considering the meaning of this term, now I can consider myself a migrant. Three years ago, I arrived to the Bolivian city of La Paz as part of the European Program EU Aid Volunteers (EUAV) to collaborate with the NGO Doctors of the World as a communications technician.
For me, this experience has just begun and I can’t completely value it yet. I still have a lot to live in this foreign country. Moments which will leave marks on my life, will change my mindset and will make me rethink my way. However, I already lived my first important weeks. Those which give you the strength to keep it up, or which discourage you and make you quit.
They say that when you move from your usual place of residence to live in a new place, the first memorable moments are the first days. Those days when you arrive for the first time and you feel misplaced. You are afraid of what you will find, afraid to feel rejected or disillusioned by the expectations you had.
Since the first moment I stepped onto the Bolivian soil, every person I had the chance to deal with have been very kind and helped me with everything I needed. Plus, I didn’t have problems entering freely the country because of my sufficiently valid motive, which is not the case for everyone.
Also, I had the chance to be welcomed by the big team of Doctors of the World Bolivia. They have awaited me all the time. They were continually concerned that I had everything I need. They received me making me feel as one of them, valuing my opinion and my presence. I just felt at home, being more than 9.000 km from it.
It is now, after all this, when I realized that it was true. The first days are decisive. These details that seem small and insignificant, are really important and significant for a migrant. It’s these first moments that turn the experience abroad 180 degrees.
I had the chance to live these moments in such a way that I will remember those days for the good they were for me and not the bad. But it’s not the case for everyone. Not everyone had the chance to live the migration as well as I did, nor had a support from an organization as well as I had.
I hope that one day, all the migrants, regardless of their situation or their displacement nature, will have the welcome that I had and the opportunity to live the first days out of their regular place in the best way possible. In the way they deserve. Because we never know if someday you’ll need to move.