Refugees volunteering to help refugees

Syrian refugees often offer to help with volunteer services. Last night at the border. The first train came and went with the usual hundreds of refugees. We distributed winter clothing. The taxi protest on the Greek border was successful and refugees are allowed to travel from there by taxi again. (The train is old, cold, crowded, uncomfortable, and more expensive.) So some came by taxi while many still came by train. But it felt a little calmer than usual. There were fewer children crying. After we completed distribution to the first group, we waited several hours for the next train, […]

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Happy little girl

Last night at the border there was a lot of hubbub as refugees disembarked from trains trying to figure out where to go and what to do. We sought out all the children among the crowd who did not have sufficient winter clothing and we escorted them with their families to our distribution tables. Due to the language barrier they don’t always realize right away why they are coming with us, so we just try to make it obvious that it’s for something good, we use pantomime and we say “free” in Arabic. One little girl I remember so well. […]

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Pantomime

It’s night time. An Iraqi family comes to ask me the way to Serbia. A nearby Syrian man who speaks good English offers to translate, but then realizes he can’t as they speak Farsi. So, I use pantomime to tell the family that: – It’s cold (hugging self and shivering) – It’s dark and you can’t see anything (covering eyes while walking) – It’s very muddy and hard to walk (making sloshing noises while pretending to get feet stuck in deep mud, and tripping) – Not good if you are with small children (frowning and indicating small children) – Sleep […]

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These are my friends

These are my friends

These are my friends. They are volunteers. Here they are patiently waiting by the fire for the next train. The train arrival times are very unpredictable. We can not risk missing a train, as that would mean thousands of refugees could leave to Serbia without receiving winter clothing or other help from us. So, better safe than sorry. We get there early and then sit near the fire shivering and passing the time until the train appears. Incidentally, that also means that these men get very little sleep. Some get only a few hours of sleep per night, for months […]

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People of true faith

People of true faith transcend the “religious barriers.” I’m standing here surrounded by dozens of devout Muslims (volunteers helping refugees) and I am working with people of all faiths around the world. I have yet to run into one volunteer who is either Muslim or Christian, who does not easy and openly help a person of any other faith, without reservation. Sometimes to the utter shock of the person they are helping. Respect for women? I have never seen so much respect for women as I do here. They carry their babies, they find shelter for them in any way possible. […]

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