by William Tucker
As donors and refugee relief volunteers we are sometimes described as generous. I must however comment that most of these refugees would do the exact same for you and your family if the roles were reversed.
You will not find the gratitude and generosity of refugees portrayed in the general media, so I will make an effort here to portray the truth so that you get a real picture of the character of refugees.
I treated a refugee, a male in his early 20’s, for sores on his feet. He had come into the camp limping, as the shoes he had were too small. I asked how this had happened, and he explained that after making safe crossing from Turkey to Greece himself, he had spent a few days rescuing fellow refugees from the sea, and that during one of the rescues he had lost his own shoes. The only shoes he could get before moving on had been to small for him. I had to carefully peel his shoes off his feet. His feet were red and swollen. No matter the care I took in removing his shoes, it was obvious that it was painful. We washed his feet and I applied a high quality cream to them, got him 2 pairs of dry socks, and got him properly fitting shoes. He asked me for directions. I explained the route to him for his next destination and told him he had a four-kilometer walk ahead of him.
He thanked me profusely, we shook hands, and he limped off into the night … 10 minutes later he was back. He had acquired two cigarettes and had walked back because he wanted to share one with me. So we both stood outside in the cold starlit night, smiling, enjoying that moment, and feeling rich as kings. Once we were done, we shook hands and gave each other “that look” (the look of mutual respect and understanding). He walked off into the night towards a safer place – but by now he had attached himself to few teenage refugees whom he has just taken under his wing.
I went to a dark corner and cried for a minute. Not because I was sad, but because people like this restore my faith in humanity. Then I went back to the tent to administer aid to the next arrivals.
Stuff like this is not isolated. It happens all the time, literally every second of the day. To me, it’s a testament of the beauty and kindness of humanity. The same quality resides in the volunteers and in our donors, many of whom stretch their financial comfort zones and give when really they have nothing to give, just like the refugee I met last night.
– William Tucker
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