Becoming a Refugee: “One of the Lucky Ones”
Once in Sudan, Mulugeta found that applying for refugee status was fairly easy, but nonetheless he considered himself lucky. To be accepted into the Canadian refugee program at that time, the applicant most likely had an education, was literate, and could speak English”. Mulugeta recalls that “During the process of registration, I noticed that one has to line up for long hours, days – even weeks sometimes to get the application form.”
Mulugeta points out the injustice of this process, “The people you see lined up at that time were people like me – abled bodied, men, not necessarily women. Because if they line up for the whole day how are they supposed to feed their children?” Mulugeta suggests that since then, the Canadian immigration system has come a long way, “Canada is highly respected and has an open system. The problem I see, is Canada is a big country and the number of people it takes in is very small.”
Being able bodied, educated and under the protection of the United Nations due to the threat on his life, Mulugeta was accepted as a refugee into three countries: Australia, the United States, and Canada. He chose Canada, yet, even after his arrival in Vancouver he had trouble making ends meet. He laments that “it was very difficult to get employment in Vancouver.”
Despite this experience in Vancouver, Mulugeta made the best of his situation, going back to school at the University of British Columbia before choosing to continue his journey to Toronto.