Mukesh, my Lyft driver to La Guardia, taught me what it really means to be a journalist, along with the meaning of bravery, integrity, passion, sacrifice and dignity in the face of violence and separation from family and country.
“If you fight for freedom for the people, If you see the bad in front of and you fight you are a journalist. If you avoid, you are not a journalist! I’m a fighter.”
Over the course of an hour he told me how he’d been a journalist in India, had attempted to expose a corrupt politician which led to his being followed, beaten and threatened with death, before he paid smugglers $50k to get to the US where he applied for asylum 4 years ago.
Now he drives people around New York, while working long distance to expose corruption back in his home country. In order to keep his kids safe and ensure they get a good education, he’s put them in a military-type school where no one can enter, the kids can’t leave and students can only talking to their parents once a month.
“They only have one phone between the 80 students so me an my wife spend all day trying to call, and then whoever gets through first, calls the other one.”
He shared his belief that this was all god’s plan and that he needed to pursue justice as that is his mission. And that while, he may have had to sacrifice and struggle, he is happy because he’s making a difference and can look at himself on the mirror with pride every day.
As I listened to his stories, I thought about how lucky many of us are here in the United States. And how important it is for us welcome refugees and asylum seekers, not just because it’s critical for their well being, or that it’s part of what makes us admired around the world, but because of the ferocious spirit and drive these people have.
Thank you Mukesh and to everyone else willing to risk everything to fight for freedom and social justice.
#journalism #asylum # India #inspired #Lyft