Today, June 20th, is World Refugee Day. I do volunteer work for refugees on Wednesday afternoons and in our chat group one of our team leaders posted a photo, inviting us and our refugee clients to have some cake…
I hope there will be some left when I get to the office on Wednesday.
I wish such a day to become something of the past, but alas humanity doesn’t seem to work that way. People continue to flee their countries for so many reasons, as explained so clearly by Cate Blanchett in a short video I saw yesterday.
From my viewpoint here in The Netherlands it feels like refugees from Ukraine are immediately absorbed into society where refugees from other countries such as Eritrea or Syria aren’t. I hope people can find it in their hearts to change that and see that refugees from everywhere need to be supported and helped. To illustrate the point, here are snippets about a few refugees I have been able to help a little bit in recent weeks:
- The refugee from Afghanistan I helped get an appointment at city hall last week. He was a translator (to English) for the Dutch armed forces, he arrived three months ago and has to now make a safe life here with his young family.
- The refugee from Syria (who came with his wife) who I helped a few weeks ago with an application to get special assistance because he is in a wheelchair, never able to walk again after being in Syrian prison for six (!!) years and mistreated there. He also told me that he in turn is the grandson of a refugee who fled from Palestine to Syria in 1948 when Israel was founded.
- The 19 year old refugee from Eritrea fleeing unrest who is here all alone and wants nothing more than to go to vocational school to become a mechanic and feels like the Dutch classes that he needs to qualify aren’t moving along fast enough for him. He has now been contacting vocational schools to ask about his options.
I could go on but I think the message is clear enough: every refugee has a story of why they had to flee and a dream of a safe, happy and healthy life.
Yes, on this World Refugee Day, I stand with humanity and therefore I stand with refugees.