On the Road to Damascus
“I remember the sweet moments in my city when the snow was falling just before Christmas 2013. Looking out through my window our children, with their new hats and gloves, playing excitedly in the snow.
In wasn’t long after that, as the children were getting ready for school that everything changed. The phone rang and a friend warned us not to leave the house as ‘Daesh’ (ISIS) were in the streets nearby.
Refugees on the move
In search of safety & security
When someone chooses to flee their homes to escape the terrors of war, this is not an easy choice. To leave everything they have known and worked for, for an uncertain future. For many of them the decision to flee is just the beginning of their traumatic journey to safety and so often the conditions that they are met with are far from providing them with the shelter and supplies that they need to survive.
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I’ll admit it. I’m one of the millions who binge-watched the new Marie Kondo Netflix series ‘Tidying Up’ over the holidays. It hit me at just the right time. My house was filled with clutter, disused baby toys, bills from 2009 and clothes that no longer fit. I’d been itching to start 2019 with a fresh mind and a clean house, and Marie Kondo and her patented joy-sparking and folding methods were just the push I needed to get started.
Danielle shares about how the mission to send desperately needed supplies to refugees in Lesbos began with a little help from Tom Cruise! Whilst out in Greece with a GAiN volunteer team one of Danielle’s friends got in touch to say that he had an idea for how we might be able to get some bigger, better tents to the people who are facing winter with inadequate shelter.
This project started when Lizelle Pieterse (with GAiN South Africa) had a heart to mobilise people within South Africa to respond to the pockets of poverty on their door step. This desire has now grown into a vision to give children who are living on the margins and would otherwise have been forgotten, a fighting chance at life.
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.