I usually say there are two different means of understanding something.The rational and the emotional. If a child melts a straw in the flame of a candle, it will realise on a rational level that it might hurt if it sticks its finger in there. This lesson might be remembered throughout the child´s life, but it also might not. Yet if the child sticks its finger into the flame and does get burned, the lesson will be leaned emotionally. It will be in the childs´ memory forever. With news it is similar. We will hear, see or read about them and relate to them rationally. Unfortunately the overflow of (negative) information makes us protect ourselves and almost numb things out in the pursuit to stay happy and sane in an already difficult-enough every day life. In the case of the refugee crisis -through people around me and myself- I experienced three layers of understanding…
As a volunteer in Lesvos, you get to meet a lot of wonderful people who touch your heart and soul in a number of ways. Yesterday, we had two such encounters at our Drop Centre in Moria Village. First, as we prepared for our daily English class, a local, Greek, elderly woman stopped by our centre with some beautiful flowers. This was the second time this week that she stopped by to give us flowers. To us, these gifts symbolized our increasing acceptance in the village and the friendly relations we have cultivated with our local neighbours. This is so important, especially since many of the people in the village were initially sceptical to host foreign volunteers and a centre for refugees.
Jeg har ikke en gang forberedt en takketale, jeg trodde aldri det skulle bli meg. Jeg er kjempetakknemlig, men dette er ikke bare min fortjeneste, det er så mange som har sluppet alt de har i hendene og hjulpet til med å starte denne nye hjelpeorganisasjonen. Jeg håper også at prisen kan bidra til å rette fokus mot kvinner på flukt. Og så må jeg takke familien min, de har ikke bare hatt det lett. Jeg dro til Hellas i tre dager og kom hjem som et helt annet menneske. – Trude Jacobsen fra sin takketale til salen.
A popular holiday destination for many Europeans, the Greek island Lesvos is also the gateway to the European Union for many refugees and migrants. In 2015, during the height of the influx, several thousand people landed on the island’s beaches on a daily basis. However, back then, Lesvos was an island of transit from Turkey to the Greek mainland and other European countries. Today, following EU’s heavily-criticised deal with Turkey and policies of containment, more than 10 000 refugees, the majority from war-torn countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, are trapped in precarious conditions on the island, while waiting out their asylum claims. Crucially, what is happening on Lesvos is a not merely or primarily a result of the inefficiency and mismanagement of the Greek asylum system, but rather a direct result of European countries’ hardening stance toward people fleeing war, persecution and poverty.