Having learned of the migrant crisis that has inundated Europe since late 2014/2015 through all forms of media, I have always felt a sense of what I can only describe as almost guilt. This crisis did not appear, to me at least, to be treated like any other disaster we would be familiar with. There were fewer donation campaigns, fewer calls for international cooperation and as resources became stressed it seems like we forgot these were real people who weren’t just coming for a better life out of choice or trying to move away from extreme poverty, they were largely fleeing persecution and war zones. In fact; as we got accustomed to terms like ‘refugee camps’, ‘rubber dinghies’, and ‘border control’, the entire situation became normalised and it really made me feel like a passive witness to one of the most chaotic and unimaginable humanitarian crises in recent times. I never thought initiatives like TTBW existed. I never believed that someone like me could do anything to help these people other than simply raising awareness back home where the atmosphere felt like worlds apart.
When the opportunity arose to directly contribute to the support and wellbeing of young people who have been through these traumatic experiences and who in some cases are still in the lengthy process of finding some stability in their lives, I knew I could not let it pass. I think I literally jumped with excitement and anticipation as to what could possibly be the most rewarding and challenging opportunities of my life. I could not think of a better way to spend my summer getting to see first-hand what it is like for them and to do whatever I can to put a smile on their faces and to show them that people do care, people are listening to them and not turning a blind-eye.
I also hope that when I come home, the direct experience I will have gained by working with these refugees will resonate with people and that I can hit the ground running with new projects that I can develop at home.