A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal, and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.
It is important for your understanding to define the term “refugee” first so that you know on what base we were talking about this topic together with one of the founders of “Rethinking refugees”, Sindhuja Sankaran.
Rethinking Refugees is a nonprofit organization in Poland, especially active in Krakow, which set its goal to educate Polish citizens if it comes to the ongoing refugee crisis. Furthermore, they want to raise awareness of a multicultural society by organizing events and meetings between a group of minorities and the Polish society to break down prejudices and prevent e.g. the rise of Islamophobia.
One this one evening Sindhuja took some of her precious time to meet with us the volunteers in which she showed us what is happening currently and how we can try to change something in our society at home and in Krakow.
The first situation she decided to have a closer look at, was the terrible situation in the refugee camps on the Greek island of Lesbos. Sindhuja spent some time there and as a professor for Psychology she gave us not only insides on the hygienical situation in these camps, in which more than 100 humans have to share only one bathroom, but also on how this inflicts the mental health of the people who are living there.
Though the situation of the refugees in the Mediterranean Sea is still commonly known, maybe not as detailed as Sindhuja presented it to us, but also not something we were not aware of. If you investigate further, leaving the European continent we were quite surprised though what else was happening.
Not a lot of people seem to know about the situation the people of the Rohingyas found themselves in.
At first statelessness mind sound like nothing too bad, maybe you gain some freedom, traveling around without having any government which you are staying representative for. Though the thought of traveling is already bursting into nonexistence. Without citizenship of a certain state you are screwed. How do you want to travel without any passports, ID, or something similar to this? Furthermore, all government institutions are only working for citizens. You are nothing in front of the state, meaning you will not get any help from them because you are not existing.
The Government of Myanmar is using this current technique to control, suppress, exploit, and finally persecute the people of the Rohingyas, without facing any intervention due to their lack of citizenship.
Because of this situation Myanmar is one of the countries, besides Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Somalia, which rates highest amongst the countries which’s people are fleeing their country.
Even though there are so many terrible things right now happening abroad, Sindhuja showed us ways of how to help these people and the ones who are facing racism or other phobias in our society. May it be meetings in which you just gather to talk and to eat with each other, informational events to spread awareness, workshops, and theater classes in which the local community interacts with mentioned humans.
That is another thing at least I learned during this meeting. We are not only speaking of “some refugees” we are speaking of humans like you, me my neighbor, or my grandma. We are just lucky enough to currently be in a much better situation, but you never know when the leave will turn.
We should not forget that we are not talking about numbers or diseased people, but of individuals who have dreams and visions. People seeking a better, or sometimes just a life.
It will take some time, but if we are staying persistent and keep on going, we are contributing a huge part to the creation of an equal, accepting, and tolerating society.
Text by Sebastian, a volunteer from Germany, participant of the project “reACTogether” but also the support of the project “Mobility for Solidarity”.
The project “reACTogether” is organised within the framework of the European Solidarity Corps and financed by European Commission.