It is not true that one cannot do anything, nor that it is a political issue. One simply cannot learn about all this and remain indifferent. One cannot watch the news and passively attend the theatre of life that fiction has without their heart shrinking until it almost disappears. Because above all things stands humanity. And because of humanity, we cannot cease to do something about the refugee situation
Paz Cendoya & Victor Quera :: Spain :: Barcelona
Victor Quera: Paz and I live in Barcelona (Spain) and are the parents of three daughters – Bea, Paz and Cris – and currently we have some spare time. Outraged by the news about the refugee situation in Greece we decided to go there and check it out for ourselves and try to help as much as possible.
We travelled to Greece, together with our friend Ana, with the humble intention to give a hand in a situation which, coming from Spain, seemed barbaric to us. After 18 days in the Eko and Idomeni camps we returned to Barcelona. We were greatly saddened about the position of the refugees, but we had made many memories, were satisfied with the work accomplished and were happy about the new friends we had made, both volunteers and refugees. We are glad to have created this unforgettable experience. The volunteers have achieved a lot, and the refugees have thanked us over and over again for our work and effort. Now it is the turn of the European community to demonstrate that its presumption of a paradise of justice, equality and brotherhood is actually a reality and not just fine words that amount to nothing.
During our stay in Greece we experienced many emotional moments due to what we lived to see. The beautiful smiles of the children, them coming running to hug us or to hold our hands whilst shouting “my friend, my friend”. We did not grow tired of helping because of the immense amount of sincere gratitude we received for our work from the side of the refugees. The first thing we observed was that it was necessary to have a census of the families in order to prepare and deliver custom materials to them. Paradoxically, none of the organizations had such a census available, so we got to work and – with the help of four refugees – we managed to do a complete inventory of the families within just two days. That census allowed us to hand out a pack of hygiene, underwear and hats for all children under the age of 16 years. There were also moments when we felt sad and helpless, for example when the refugees were facing unfair situations.
In the end, all the effort was worth it and we advise everyone who can afford to do so to be encouraged and go to Greece to lend a hand, for it really pays off. If you cannot go there, at least demand from your politicians a solution for the problem; because no matter your ideology, helping these refugees is a question of humanity.
Paz Cendoya : It is not true that one cannot do anything, nor that it is a political issue. One simply cannot learn about all this and remain indifferent. One cannot watch the news and passively attend the theatre of life that fiction has without their heart shrinking until it almost disappears. Because above all things stands humanity. And because of humanity, we cannot cease to do something about the refugee situation. In fact, everyone can do something! With that mindset, Victor and I decided to try to make a difference and travelled to the Eko and Idomeni camps in Greece. An indecent number of young refugees has gathered in those camps and, abandoned by civilized Europeans, they are waiting for a political solution.
Babies, children, teenagers, adults and old people, all waiting for a dream to come true; the opening of the borders. And in the meantime, families who have lost one, two, three, four or even all members along the way are receiving help, the help of the volunteers, and they are extremely grateful.
“What do you need”? “You cannot give us what we need”, the refugees would respond with a sad look on their face. So we would knuckle down, roll up your sleeves and start working. They neither have food, nor shoes, nor personal hygiene products, nor blankets… the list goes on. But what they have is the hope that the great Europe will help them. And then you would feel ashamed, ashamed for not meeting their expectations. Yet the Greek people, the villagers who receive the refugees, could not be more generous. They wait patiently for the help of the rest of Europe and give us a lesson about the democracy of humanity.
The refugees receive you with a smile and an expectant look on their face, they offer you their collaboration and they beg you to listen to them. And you would listen to them, smile, hug, kiss them, hold their hands, and you would forget yourself and try not to cry, unsuccessfully. When struggling, another volunteer would whisper softly “Paz, pretend that you are in a movie”, and you would be infected with the strength and power of the other volunteers, and incredible strength that derives from generosity and from the horrors which they experience.
There are engineers, teachers, interpreters, cooks etc. Who used to live a life like you and me, but one day their country drove them out of their homes. “He is all that we have been left with”, they tell you while pointing at their five-year-old son, the one for which they have undertaken this exodus, their reason for everything. And the child smiles at you. And you make friends, real friends, with whom you have shared so much and with whom you don’t need words but just your eyes to communicate. And you joke and smile, and when you say goodbye and hear the emotional speech of farewell, filled with solemnity and gratitude dedicated to you, sadness overcomes you.
“I have a brother who stays in Germany. That’s where I want to go”, is the most repeated sentence one can hear. When you tell them about the possibility to go to another country they look at you expectantly and full of love and say: “If I go to Spain, will you help me”? and you answer clearly and insistently “my home is your home”, and you realize what you have just committed yourself to. From that moment on you are his or her brother or sister, and you get back to Barcelona and you cannot, and must not, and do not want to continue as if nothing ever happened.