Suddenly You Are Nobody: Vermont Refugees Tell Their Stories by Jared Grange, published by Huntington Graphics in Burlington, gives a broad and vivid picture of Vermont’s refugee communities.
The people we read about came to Vermont from Bhutan, Nepal, Russia, Bosnia, China, Ecuador, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tibet, Vietnam, Mexico, Palestine, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and Iraq. Their road here was long and dangerous. Most of them were escaping oppression, persecution and war, yet they still miss their lives in their own countries. They still miss home
Slavojka Avdibegovic, a refugee from Bosnia with her husband Kenan, gives voice to the feelings of others: “You live normal life. Suddenly you are nobody. Yesterday everybody knows you, knows about you. Next day you are no one. You are low, below low.” She is talking about her experience and her husband’s in a UN refugee camp during the Bosnian War after Serbian artillery shells destroyed their apartment and left Kenan a paraplegic. Yet in 1996 they made it to the United States, to Burlington where they made a rich life for themselves, with family and friends, and work they love.
The sections on each country’s refugees begin with an introduction about the country’s history and upheavals – the circumstances that led people to flee and establish new lives among us. Numerous full-color photographs illustrate these moving and courageous stories.