I’m going to try to write this very carefully. I am absolutely sure that I will offend somebody with what I’m saying, so please understand that is not my aim, in fact I’m trying to be honest whilst doing my best not to say anything out of turn.
There is clearly a huge humanitarian crisis which happening on our doorstep, and we are being called to action to do something. My memories of huge crisis like this go back to being a child and watching news footage of 2 million refugees from Rwanda fleeing genocide by the Tutsi Patriotic Front. Although at age 9 I understood what I was told about the footage, I was too young to really comprehend what it meant for actual real people and families who were leaving their homes under dire circumstances and walking hundreds of miles to try to find somewhere safe to settle. With no food or water, few belonging and children and the elderly all being put through such awful trauma and both physical and mental stress. There are a number of humanitarian issues at the moment- the War in Syria which has also spilled over into Iraq, with 3.9 million Syrians having to leave the country and a further 11.4 million displaced (http://www.worldvision.org/news-stories-videos/top-humanitarian-crises-2015), with Ebola is West Africa, and droughts in Somalia and Central America to name a few.
The shock tactic images hitting my social media screens have been very hard to swallow. To be sitting here typing this from a very priviledged viewpoint, I can of course feel irony of my complaint. I’ve been feeling quite down and sensitive recently and have felt very affected by the images of drowned children, especially those around the same age as my son. It’s very emotional to be engaged in the stark and striking images that are being shared around facebook and twitter, and in my current position have actually put me off looking further into the issue to see what I can do to help. Although once you’ve seen a photo of a child drowned, facedown in the sane, it cannot be unseed. In fact, I’m so worried about what images are going to be shared that I’ve ended up ignoring the issue all together which is of course the wrong reaction. I’ve been reading up a bit about the use of shock tactics- most articles cite the way that charities use shock tactics to raise awareness of an issue or persuade individuals that theirs is the most “worthy” cause. Though there’s little conclusion about the effectiveness, I worry about what happens next time. Will a photo of a dead child be enough? Will we be subjected to graphic videos of incidents taking place? Whilst of course we are so fortunate not to be in that position ourselves, one can have empathy and one can help and care without having to see everything in graphic detail. However, there’s no doubt that in the case of the Syrian refugee crisis that after an initial slow and aprehensive start, people are jumping to act across the world. The biggest wonderful thing that I’ve seen is the number of sling mummies who have set up and donated to a “Slings for Kos” group- who are raising funds and collecting slings for refugee parents in Kos.
I won’t claim to know as much about this as I could- my head is firmly wedged in the sand over this one because I’ve found it so upsetting, however I did find this Guardian Article: 5 Practical Ways You Can Help Refugees Trying to Find Safety in Europe wonderfully succinct and helpful. I have spent the afternoon going through and signing the appropriate petitions to ensure that the county I live in does as much as it can to help these refugees (not immigrants as the papers like to call them), and am now off to raid my ISA to make a sizeable donation to one of the charities listed (not sure which one yet)- a donation the size of which I have never been compelled to make before.
For anyone similarly uninformed, I founds this wonderful Upworthy comic strip very informative.