Offering homes and kindness in the refugee crisis

From New Internationalist Easier English Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Offering homes and kindness in the refugee crisis

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara

04.09.15-refugee-shoes-greece-590x392.jpg

Stefanie Eisenschenk under a Creative Commons Licence

I felt sick at the pictures of dead Syrian children on the beach. But two days ago, I got a message from Florida friend Merlyn Brito. She is an immigrant to the US from India, and she probably understands the feelings of the migrant who leaves her roots, friends, family and homeland.

She sent me an email from an Avaaz member that made me feel happier. A very small hope for the desperate people who need a home. Avaaz is a global network of 41 million people. They make sure that the views and values of the world’s people affect world decisions.

The email said that after Iceland offered to take only 50 refugees, 10,000 Icelanders offered their homes to refugees in a Facebook request. 10,000 people! – difficult to believe. One wrote:

‘I’m a single mother with a 6-year-old son... We can take a child in need. I’m a teacher and would teach the child to speak, read and write Icelandic and feel happy in Icelandic society. We have clothes, a bed, toys and everything a child needs. I would of course pay for the airplane ticket.’

Avaaz says how important it is for people all over the world to tell our political leaders to welcome the desperate people. We must stop families dying at sea. When people see this on TV, they know they need to help. All over the world it is the politicians who start wars for many complicated reasons. The politicians make the laws that mean the people are simply a problem. The politicians say refugees’ lives are not important, because they’re not people like us.

I know almost nothing about Iceland or its people. But now I feel the power of global solidarity with these kind people. They do not see continents, countries, culture, language, race and religion as barriers. They show the universal values of kindness, humanity and love – part of all religions of the world. They have shown us the moral courage to do what most religions and people only talk about. Not many people have seen that India has taken a few million refugees from Burma, Tibet, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Everyone thinks well of German Chancellor Angela Merkel now that she has offered to take 800,000 refugees. Maybe her decision will make other European Union leaders be kinder.

Avaaz (https://www.avaaz.org/en/) asks us to sign the Welcome Home promise and share it everywhere. They will, they say, tell every world leader how many of us are promising to help in their countries.

Jonathan Wittenberg, a London rabbi says: ‘We don’t want people to remember us as the country that closed its doors.’ The Guardian talked about the Hebrew Bible. ‘It uses an interesting verb: “to pretend you haven’t noticed”. We’ve all noticed. Now we mustn’t pretend. We should continue with Britain’s history of welcoming refugees, as a country of tolerance and welcome.’ I agree. I hope the people in power agree. Because if they don’t, we will all remember the thousands of drowning children, women and men for the rest of our lives. Can we live with this?

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: http://newint.org/blog/majority/2015/09/04/refugee-crisis-icelandic-response/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).