“Every person’s experience is unique, and ‘migrant’ is not the only identity of a person who has left their home”

Human Wrongs Watch

Kate, Maddie, Mimi and Ella’s story is part of the UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM) series: “i am a migrant“.*  Their country of origin  is the United States and Congo and they currently lives in Cambodia – 14,418 kms from home.

Kate, Maddie, Mimi and Ella. Photo IOM

Although they’re young, these sisters have experience with migration. They’re living in Cambodia now but they’ve also lived in Egypt, Indonesia, and Georgia, returning to the US every summer for holiday.

“I live overseas, we migrate because of our parents’ jobs,” says Kate, 10 years old. “I would really like to help my mom and her job, she works for IOM and they help migrants coming to Cambodia.”

Maddie, 8 years old, says “I like living in different places because you get to experience different things.”

Her favorite thing about Cambodia when she arrived? “Tuktuks! You get the breeze, sometimes taxi drivers in the US don’t let you roll down the window, but in Tuktuks, you get breeze all the time.”

At the same time, going home in the summers is important to them: “I like going home,” says Mimi, age 7, “because we get to see our family. Sometimes it’s hard living far away because we miss them so much.”

The girls agree that they are lucky to migrate for their parents’ work; they know that it isn’t the case for everyone.

“Sometimes people migrate because of war,” says Maddie, who believes that migration can benefit both the individual and the community.

They know that some people don’t get any support in the place they’ve migrated to: “there are big cities and there are lots of people that don’t have very much, sometimes migrants do need help finding somewhere to stay and something to eat.”

Ella, 11, predicted that “if nobody migrated, people will go crazy. For example, nobody would get jobs. Companies would shut down.

People wouldn’t get the food they needed. People wouldn’t make that many friends. Some places could get sick and nobody else from another place could help. People won’t learn much about different cultures and beliefs from other countries.”

In an effort to help migrants without support, Kate wants everyone in her family to donate a few things every year and hopefully encourage others to donate too.

Maddie summarized their perspective well: “migration is different, every person’s experience migrating is unique, and ‘migrant’ is not the only identity of a person who has left their home.”


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