I have just run a cultural awareness workshop for government officers dealing with the provision of housing to low-income families. While I was telling them about cultures, languages and acceptance, they also told me some amazing things.
Low-cost housing is provided to many migrant and refugee families. In fact, as soon as people are recognized as refugees, they are immediately entitled to government housing until they can afford their own residence.
As humane as this may seem, the locals object to this privilege and protest against it as being discriminating against them. They say, “Why should someone come into the country and get something straight away, while others who grew up here don’t?”
The obvious answer, “Where would they go if they have no family and no friends here?” But this answer doesn’t satisfy some of the locals in government housing, who sometimes abuse the newcomers verbally and even by damaging their property.
If this is not bad enough, reports are that migrant families in government housing are polite, quiet and considerate. They take excellent care of their dwellings and carry out all of their obligations on time, despite the occasional harassment.
Another amazing fact is that in some migrant and refugee units, there are as many as 21 people living in 3 bedrooms! Compared to where they came from, they think it is better, because at least nobody is trying to kill them…
Now, equipped with their new cultural awareness, the housing officers can help refugees and migrants assimilate quicker into society, while making the locals feel a lot better about accepting them.
God, I love my work!