The second line of the “Declaration of Independence” states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
At GAIA, we are always aware that a good life anchored by liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not available to all men and women. Before being resettled in more hospitable places, many refugees are quite literally running for their lives and the total absence of liberty and happiness. We’ve told the stories of a few such people — the refugee women who have resettled in Dallas with their families and are rebuilding their lives with our help — on our blog.
In honor of July Fourth, we asked some of our refugee artisans what “independence” means to them. Here’s what they said.
To me, “independence” means being free to express your thoughts and mind, and being able to act upon your ideas, especially in the political realm. For me, being an American means being able to achieve your dreams.
To me, “independence” means I can live free and not in a refugee camp. Being an American means that I can say the Pledge of Allegiance and vote for the president of the United States.
In my country (Burma), we have civil war, so we live with fear. We have no rights to do as we please. In the U.S., I have rights. I can become a citizen and vote. We all have equal opportunities and can get any job we want.
Independence is freedom, and freedom is being able to express yourself. Being an American would mean that I could travel anywhere.
To me, Independence Day is Happiness Day. Living in the United States means many more opportunities — including the chance to study English!
Curious about how refugees get to the United States? We break it down for you in Refugee Resettlement 101.