Today is Wednesday, I guess you all know that, and that’s usually the day I talk about food (Foodie Wednesdays). However something more important came up. It so happens that today is the World Humanitarian Day.
The World Humanitarian Day is “a time to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. (…) is also an opportunity to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the globe.” (Quote from the UN website, found here).
This year, the theme is ‘Inspiring World’s Humanity’, and the UN has actually came up with a very clever, interesting and beautiful campaign. This year instead of donating money, you can donate your voice, and help share humanitarian stories, by becoming a Messenger of Humanity. It’s pretty simple actually, all you have to do is to ‘donate’ your social media feed for the day (today) – Facebook, Twitter or both. The idea is to share stories about journeys, miracles, people who went out of their way to help others, about things that need to be stopped, about initiatives that are making a difference… It’s very easy to do, I’ve donated my Facebook feed and will also be donating my Twitter feed later. You can find out how to do it at http://www.worldhumanitarianday.org/.
I am really glad it’s World Humanitarian Day, because I’ve been meaning to talk about this situation that’s been bothering me, but unfortunately it’s about lack of humanity. Before jumping straight to it I want you to imagine, really image the following situation:
You get home after a works day. Your family is home, the kids are playing outside, maybe your wife is cooking, or maybe you are. Your dad is sitting in the living watching TV or reading the news, and maybe your mother is outside watching the children. Maybe your life isn’t perfect but in that moment you’re quite happy with what you have, you may even feel like you’re blessed. Suddenly a noise, screams coming from the street. You shudder, your heart nearly stops you run outside. A group of man, holding guns, is attacking your village. Your girls are being pulled away from your mum, she won’t let go so she gets shot in the head. The young girls are separated into a group. Then the men, the children, the woman. You are scared. Your wife is crying and you see your children are terrified, but there’s absolutely nothing you can do to protect them. Then you hear shots and you realize, they’re killing all the men, and you’re next. BUM, it’s all you hear as your eyes wander at your children one last time before your life fades away… what will become of them? They’re split, young children, boys, young girls. The young girls are taken. Some are forced to marry the men, some are raped. Your daughter is being raped. Then they’re sold, and they’re raped over and over again. The young children? Some are left to die. The women? Some are taken, forced to be sex slaves, some are killed. The boys? Some are recruited, they’re brainwashed and given guns to hold when they should be holding toys and playing football. Some are left behind. Some people manage to hide and escape. Some survive.
Now imagine instead that you actually managed to hide. You saw your friends die, your brother or your sister die but you survived. And you managed to hide some of your kids, and your wife as well. What are your hopes of future? What is your first thought? That’s right, you need to pull yourself together, grab you family and flee. As far as you can. There’s no more schools, no more shops, no more water or electricity, no more dreams here. Only nightmares. You go to a refugee camp. But it so happens that the same thing that happened to your village has happened everywhere. And it’s spreading to nearby countries too. Besides, life in a refugee camp is not fun. There’s no future, it’s dangerous, it’s precarious, it’s merely surviving, it’s not living.
In an attempt to give their children a better future, actually scrap that, to have a future, to escape the horrors that they’ve seen or that they’re witnessing, people do something desperate: they leave their home countries. In dangerous conditions too; sometimes they’re deceived, all their savings, which aren’t much or ‘God-Knows-what- they-had-to-do’ to come up with it, are given to someone who guarantees you safe passage to Europe. But that doesn’t happen. Or it does and you die trying to get there. Now imagine that you take your family and manage a spot for them in this teeny tiny boat. After days without eating, drinking sleeping, days of being in a tiny boat with thousands of other people, praying to every God you know so the boat won’t sink, you manage to get safely to land. And all you want is the chance of a new beginning. A chance to forget what you’ve been through, even though you probably won’t ever forget it…
And that’s it. Those are the people behind the ‘Migrant Crisis’. Maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that, maybe it was worst. You can hear actual stories here. It breaks my heart that we’re more focused in fearing them, in thinking they’re here to steal jobs, to live off benefits, and to damage our land, our culture, ‘how dare they come here?’… Instead of actually helping them to heal we throw rocks at them. I am not completely utter naive, I know these things involve a lot of politics, diplomats, solutions that we currently don’t have. And I am glad to see some countries are working on solutions, whilst providing safe harbour, instead of engineering ways of ‘shutting them down’ while they think of a solution. Things like that make my heart shrink a little, and make me feel ashamed to be part of the same species.
Now go back to that exercise, if you arrive at a safe harbour, and your family is safe, after all the horrors you have witnessed, are benefits really the first thing on your mind? Are you honestly thinking ‘ok let’s see, how are we going to scam these guys?’ Odds are you aren’t. Odds are you are so lost you have no idea what the next step will be. You are so lost you haven’t got a clue… All you need now, is for someone to be kind to you.
So be kind. Be human-kind.
I firmly believe that being able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes can make the world a better place, as it makes us more compassionate. So before accusing, judging, throwing stones, today, on World Humanitarian Day, try to put yourself in other people’s place first. Yes there’s a lot of bureaucracy ahead, things need to be thought and we need to know how we can better help these people, without putting anyone in risk. But we also need to look for the humanity in us, and extend a hand to our fellow humans.
After all it wasn’t that long ago that Europe was buried in the most ugly war, causing families to break, people to die and suffer unspeakable horrors. And they too needed others to extend their help. Some even sought refuge in other countries…