Last week I watched a documentary called Salam Neighbor. It tells the story of two American film-makers that spend one month living in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan.
The film-makers share some mind blowing stats of what is perhaps the worst humanitarian crisis in History. According to the United Nations, as of February this year there were 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance — close to 5 million are refugees outside Syria. The vast majority of these refugees are received by neighbouring countries. Jordan alone has close to 1.5 million Syrian refugees.
I am Brazilian and I live in Australia. To put things in perspective, this would be equivalent to have the entire population of Argentina as refugees in Brazil, or the entire population of New Zealand in Australia. This is MASSIVE!
The problem is so big that the hosting countries are now starting to close their borders to Syrian refugees.
One of us
Back to the documentary, their intention is to show how these refugees are people, people exactly like each and everyone of us. They believe that if we shift our perception from seeing refugees as them to US, perhaps we can all open our arms and become more welcoming.
One interview in particular really caught my attention. One of the interviewees in the camp said he used to be part of a typical middle class family. He had a job, a house, he was constantly ‘doing things’ to fill his time.
Suddenly all changed, everything was gone. He had to give all his savings away to get smuggled though the desert, through the battle fields.
Now he relies on the goodwill of hosting countries, non profit organisations and donations to barely survive. The worst is that there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.
Open your arms
Somehow we feel save, we feel this would never happen to us. Not true! They are not different. This false sense of security can vanish at anytime. Let’s not wait until something like this happens closer to home to start having some compassion for those in need today.
I invite you all to open your arms, literally, and welcome those who need. Let’s start the OPEN YOUR ARMS campaign for Syrian refugees and refugees from any other country. They are exactly like us!
Join me and post a photo where you open your arms and welcome refugees to your country, city, community. I posted mine.