Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Be kind. Never stop caring. Because we are the fortunate ones, for now...

We all have to make difficult decisions every day as parents. 

When to stop breastfeeding, whether to send your baby to a childminder or a nursery when you go back to work, when to move them into a bed from their cot, which infant school to put down as your first choice.

But what if you had to decide if getting on a boat to sail over dangerous waters to a country you've never been to and don't speak the language is safer than staying where you were born. 

What if you had to look in the eyes of your small children and weigh up whether taking them on that treacherous journey was less dangerous than staying in your war-torn country.

I read an article in The Independent today that suggested practical ways in which you could help refugees; how you could make donations, where to drop off clothes, that kind of thing, and then I made the mistake of reading some of the comments below. Vile, heartless rants from people who accused them of wanting a free ride or sponging off wealthier European countries. 

And I thought, when did it become OK to think so little of other human beings that their actual right to life became a privilege?

When did we stop thinking of people as people and started thinking of them as a number. X number of refugees are arriving in Calais every day. X number of refugees are entering the UK. This will put a strain of X pounds on the economy.

When did we stop caring? 

Every one of the people living in sub-standard conditions, waiting to hear if we will help them, has escaped terrifying circumstances to make a life-threatening journey to get there. 

Everyone of those people has a name. They had a home. A life. Friends. They have family, people who care about them. Or maybe they did. Maybe they don't any more. 

As I dressed my daughter this morning to take her to nursery, I thought of the mother of the little Syrian boy who tragically drowned and who's body washed up on the beach.

His mum must have dressed him that morning in warm clothes, knowing the journey they had ahead. Given him breakfast and then left their house for the last time, desperation and hope for a better, safer, life driving her. 

Because no mother puts her child on a boat unless it is safer than the alternative.

We sign the change.org petitions then scroll onto the next Facebook post. I know. I've done it myself. 

But as I sit in my comfy flat writing this, there are thousands of people sleeping in camps that will have turned to bogs over the last few days in the rain. As my children peacefully sleep in their beds, there will be toddlers and babies tonight clinging to their parents, cold and hungry. 

I'm not suggesting we should feel bad about being safe or warm or happy, I just think we need to remember that a year ago, many of these families may also have been planning for their children to start school, buying school uniforms or organising family days out. 

If someone had told them that a year on they would be thousands of miles away from home, living in a makeshift camp, not sure if members of their family have survived the journey, they wouldn't believe you.

So be kind. Hold your children tighter. Say I love you more often. And do what you can to help. Because we are the fortunate ones. But we never know when our luck might change. 

6 comments:

  1. I'm finding it hard to write anything about anything today Anna. Everything else just seems unimportant and trivial. Well said.

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    1. Thanks claire, it's unimaginable what people have to go through, and then to be met with such hostility at the other end is unforgivable.

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  2. If we ignore refugees... Edmund Burke's words 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.' will apply to us. Look at the kindertransport statue outside Charing cross and ask yourself what small thing can you do for refugess today? Action trumps guilt.Thank you Anna.

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  3. People's lack of human compassion is sickening. Well said.

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  4. Thanks Sarah, it's heartbreaking stuff.

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