The Good Fight
“keep fighting the good fight”
During my stay in Greece volunteering at Ritsona Refugee camp, I’ve heard this phrase many times from my fellow teammates and I have come to comprehend the true meaning of it and its importance. The importance of fighting, of not giving up because now that our world seems to be shadowed by the rule of hatred and ignorance, we don’t have the time nor the luxury of staying silent and to stop fighting for what is right. This is no longer about being a conservative or liberal, left-wing or right-wing. It is simply about being human. It means that we are able to feel. To feel compassion, love and empathy and to simply stand up against the hatred that is constantly trying to divide us.
Ritsona refugee camp hosts more than 700 refugees, who have fled war and terror and have been through such pain and trauma beyond my understanding. They are now waiting in uncertainty, without knowing what will happen to them, without knowing if they will ever reach the peace and safety they have fought for. Yet, among this deep darkness and hopelessness, they carry so much kindness in their heart and they smile.
Echo100Plus, the organization I have been volunteering with, is a small Austrian charity that is entirely donation-based and it works with volunteers that come from all around the world. Everyday, me and my fellow teammates are responsible to distribute daily meals, clothing and basic necessities to the residents of the camp and everyday we are confronted with situations where we have to say “no”. And it never gets any easier. I had to say “no” to a young mother of three, asking for milk for her children. I had to say “no” to a kind man who was asking for a piece of bread for his pregnant wife. Because of one harsh reality we were confronted everyday: there is not enough. Every time I felt an ache in my heart, I could be on the other side of distribution window, it could be any of us.
Yet here I am, writing this in the safety of my home in the Hague, a home that was not hit by a barrel fell from the sky. I could leave in the end, back to my “ordinary” life, I could continue my studies and be with my family and loved ones. But there are thousands that cannot go back home, among them the residents of Ritsona refugee camp that I have come to know and who have shown me extreme kindness in the darkest hours of their lives, they are still stranded in the limbo of uncertainty. They cannot leave. They don’t know what future holds for them, whether they can study again, work and build their lives fresh. There are thousands that are living this uncertainty everyday. And this is simply not fair.
َAnd here we are, with the leader of the “free world” as the source of spreading hatred and division. As we get closer to the elections in Europe, Wilders and Le Pen follow Donald Trump’s lead and give promises of closing borders and “restoring their nations”. I have felt absolute anger and utter helplessness, helplessness in a world that seems to be falling into darkness of ignorance and hate. But I also have seen hope, hope and strenght in the eyes of millions of people who took on the street all around this globe after Trump’s executive order, standing up to restore empathy. I have seen unity and compassion and I believe that we have the power to make change. I am tired of hearing that the problem is bigger than us. Or that there is nothing for us to do. It can be volunteering, donating, protesting, informing and raising awareness or helping a recently resettled refugee family in the neighborhood. It’s about individuals and not losing touch of the humanitarian side of the crisis. Please remember that every bit of help counts.
But our most important task is to not give up. To not lower our voice and to stand up against the normalisation of hatred and ignorance.
Let’s keep fighting the good fight.