It was a lot to take in at once and as we got to know people it changed so many things about how I saw the Refugee Crisis. Going in I had a “Headline View” of the Refugee Crisis, when I came back I had gained the “Human View.” I realized that the Refugee label had kept me from seeing those seeking refuge as people. I recognized that a Refugee is not a kind of nationality or citizenship, but a season of life and a journey.
For three years, 1,500 displaced people, primarily from Mosul, called a half-finished building in Erbil, which became a refugee camp, home. This Christmas, the tall skeleton of the building was empty: after Mosul and its surrounding area was liberated, most of the families returned to their hometowns and villages, and have started the long process of rebuilding.
These are the words used to describe the temporary living quarters for thousands of refugees who have fled their homes and find themselves on the island of Lesvos, Greece. The summer surge of new arrivals means the camps there are accommodating well over their capacity. Life looks increasingly bleak as tempers fray in crowded quarters, and temperatures overnight drop to near zero in tents which are already struggling with the wind and rain.
When I learnt about the horrible situations faced by Iraqi and Syrian children in refugee camps, with no access to education and at risk of exploitation, I knew I needed to get my community, my university, involved. At GAiN we partner with local communities in this country, to make sure that people living in these camps can have hope for their future by meeting their needs today.
Early in July our project team once again went to Cluj-Napoca for the third year running. A team of 12, made up of students and recent graduates, spent 10 days working alongside the local project staff who are focused on changing the future prospects for the next generation of Roma gypsy children living next to the city rubbish dump. Emanuel who was returning with the team for the second time shares his impressions of the project.
On 7th April, our group of nine volunteers with Agapé Student Life came from across the UK to Thessaloniki, to join the GAiN project not knowing fully what to expect. We arrived to a former army airfield, and the first thing we saw was a children’s playpark, something that none of us expected. As we began a quick tour, it was clear that the children were the life and soul of the camp – and often a source of much entertainment.
Nearly six years of war in Syria has left 6.3 million people displaced and 470,000 have lost their lives. It can be hard to make sense of the individual impact in the face of abstract numbers. In the last few weeks one of our team was able to spend time with people whose lives have been forever changed by this conflict. Amira* shares in her own words both the trauma and triumph of continuing to live one day at a time.
More than 148,000 people have now been displaced, according to UN Two and a half years of atrocities, the rules and the imposed way to live their lives still in their eyes and minds, and the sound of bombings and gunfire is still fresh in their ears. Our disaster team visited one of the 25 day old camps and distributed packages of clothing, baby food and tea to more than 1,500 families. The clothes are desperately needed because the temperature drops at night to zero degrees Celsius
GAiN exists to demonstrate unconditional love to the poor and marginalised through relief and development projects around the world.
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