That word refugee has kind of become a word used as homeless, drug addicts, alcoholic. It is used in the same way. You are supposed to feel sorry for, care for and help them, or you should oppress, hate, despise and blame everything bad in society on them.
Black or white. Up or down. For or against.
It's people we're talking about. Individuals; Children. Adults. Old. Young.
It is not a group of people where everyone is the same, which all do the same things, where all feel the same way or behave and react the same way.
I think this became so much more clearer to me the first time I went down in Europe to help at the border of Hungary / Serbia. I saw it so much clearer. One person at a time, each with their own history. All with different interests, attitude, mood or ideas.
They have only one thing in common to 100% - they have all somehow been forced to leave their home, all the safety they once had (or perhaps never had because they lived in a place where safety never really was a thing). They've all (of the ones I've met) traveled (mostly by foot) through many countries, past several borders of unpleasant police, discarded information and insecurity about what will happen at the next border control.
That is what they have in common.
Otherwise, they are individuals. Can we stop talking about "they" and "we" now? Please?
I was there, in Serbia on the border with Hungary the night of September 15th when Hungary decided to close the border completely. We were some people who realized that "oh well they close the border here in Hungary and this camp (in Rözke) is getting emptied of people so probably there will be lot of people stuck on the other side then when the border is getting closed"
I was there when we were 15 volunteers who built up a camp for at least 1,000 people, when the "real" organizations were not in place. Was it because of bureaucracy? Or because they did not understand better, or because they just did not want / could work at night? No one knows. But they were not there anyway, in a place that we all knew would be a stop for many refugees that during the day had not been informed that the border would be closed. We drove the car back and forth with the sick and the elderly so that they could get to the border before midnight. We shouted at people "Jalla Jalla, border is closing soon". We saw people running with their children in their arms the fastest they could to cross the border to get inside the EU's walls before it was too late. Many did not manage. Many arrived one minute past twelve to see a closed border with a wall of Hungarian policemen who did not care a damn about that their job probably is among the most heinous in the world right now.
For all these people, we were building a camp for the night, when there was no way they could walk hundreds of kilometers in the middle of the night on the country roads in Serbia to Croatia's border. We managed to get them to stay. To get some rest and food.
How did we do this?
Well, we had contacts in Hungary from the camp side that we called, they had to drive through the border and bribe the Serbian police to take in tons of tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats. We went by car and emptied every gas station we could find from water, food and snacks. We called in doctors (volunteers) and we had luckily an awesome guy on the spot from England who knew Arabic and was the best person to organise and make sure people did the right things to help the best ways. Ahmed, I will never fotget you!
The day after this night was the day when the border police started spraying tear gas and beat both refugees and a journalists ... it was this day things just got worse.
It was that night I realized that volunteers play a major role in this whole situation. We do things others can not or want to do. The big organizations are "clocking out" at midnight many times. The work is not over at midnight. Some of the hardest tasks start at midnight. The big organizations can not do what they want without an "ok" up from the top dog. They ( some of them) just do their job. Everyone does not do it with the heart. Unfortunately. I will never again give money to these organizations. My money will either be used by myself to do such things as we are doing now or it will be given to people, individuals, small organizations that I can see are doing it for the right reasons They are not taking out huge salaries to help in crisis situations, and no one sits in an office in NY and earn huge money.
I'm so happy for the team that is going to Greek on Tuesday. Good mix of people where I know everyone does this because they want to, because they feel they "need" to do it. We are all doing it because it's unable to sit at home and just watch it happen. It is possible to do something, and we are doing it. It's actually not more difficult than that. Actually! We are really a great mixed group of people going. Different ages, gender, education, ethnicity. This is when it is at its best; When you mix!
By the way: thanks for all the contributions. It will help, lots. Love to you all!