Hope for the Children of War

A story of the hope despite the injustice in the world, the Refugee Crisis and the creation of OpenRefuge.

Along the timeline of our great civilisation, our species has never been closer to the point of collective evolution. Things may seem dire, but with great growth there comes great pain.

I experienced a shocking first-hand example of such pain during a recent trip I made to Athens, Greece. It is late winter, year 2017. The days grow longer, casting a few more minutes of nurturing sunshine across the landscape with every day. Spring will be here soon, and then summer.

As the sun warms the street of Athens, the chaotic throes of a country deep in economic crisis boil through the streets on mopeds. Little girls beg in the streets, peddling roses of unknown origin. They follow you, tell you that you are wonderful and that the rose is only for you, eyes pleading for spare change.

We make our way down to a part of town, Omonia. Our Airbnb host said not to go there at night. Down the street is the 5th Street School. In this educational ruin, refugees receive sparse help from the locals.

Entering, I am met with the sound of children playing, women bustling around cleaning, and the vacant stares of a scattered few men, most in their late teens. Two of such, weary eyed but smiling, greet us at the door and ask that we sign our names and date in a tattered notebook. Signing with a courteous nod, I turn and begin to quietly wander around, attempting to understand the situation before me.

A little girl plays alone with a broken water fountain. As I walk by, she turns and calls “Baba?”. Heart torn, I don’t know what to do. I brokenly mumble “No, not me”.

I make it outside and watch as the group I am with play with the kids. There are at least 50 of them. There are a handful of mothers, and a older male who smokes a cigarette in the corner of the courtyard. Soccer balls bounce around, jump ropes and laughter spin in the air, everyone is smiling.

The group I am with are all friends from the neighbourhood I used to live in outside of Washington D.C, and they are great people trying to learn and do good in a torn world.

A girl begins to cry, her ragged doll stolen by a friend. A boy, unable to control his anger, hits another. A small tussle erupts, eventually calmed down by our groups leader, Jeff.

Three girls and a boy laugh under a sagging awning, ripping the brains out of a carnival sized Tweetie Bird. Fine styrofoam particles twirl in the breeze.

Children of war, will you ever find a home? A chance at a happy family, a normal life? Someone to look up to, to show you right from wrong, to show you how to live?

During the remaining stay in Athens, more questions, doubts, raging anger, crippling despair and isolating apathy at the reality of the situation rise and fall within me.

Irrational plans and solutions boiled in my blood, leaving me frustrated and angry. Rays of hope began to peek through the clouds the more involved we became during the trip.

A wonderful women, hard, honest and full of love spends time at the 5th street school. Happy and loving, she brings laughter and structure into the lives of the children there.

A group of anarchists have taken over an old abandoned hotel, turning it into “Europes Best Hotel”. Regardless of their more bohemian management style, a staff of 30+ volunteers give their time providing shelter, feeding, teaching and spending their lives with over 200 refugees.

We met the director and president of the Greek Forum of Migrants. They work with meagre funds to sustain a network of over 30 NGOs, shelters, recreational and educational centers. They are hardworking, honest people who work to connect and provide opportunity to Greeks, 2nd generation migrants and refugees.

A Christian Organization, Bridges truly walks the path that Jesus did. They humbly serve refugees with no place to turn. Relocating families into proper housing, creating a community, providing clothing and packaging thousands of meals from donors so that they can feed refugee families in need.

So many people from so many backgrounds have put aside their differences to help a cause that truly needs support. These people live their lives to help those deemed less important than our species insatiable thirst for oil. Lives deemed a necessary expense for the proxy war fought in the middle east. Lives sacrificed by large governments using our tax money to drive a crisis, all for the sake of profit.

In the world of today, when things may seem more hopeless than ever, the solution is clear. We, the people, need to take a stand in fixing the injustices that surround us on all sides.

A challenge, for you.

  1. View our project, OpenRefuge. There, you can find ways to get involved locally, how to volunteer or contribute to this cause. When everyone does a little, the effect is absolutely profound.
  2. Follow us on Patreon, Medium, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
  3. Share this story with as many people as you can! Share it on Facebook, retweet it on Twitter, send it as an email to your friends, tell them where to find it in person.
  4. Live consciously. Ask yourself, “How do I live?”. Where do your daily investments go? What companies and injustices in the world might you be unwittingly supporting with your daily purchases?
  5. Share your story. Contact us. Let us know what you are doing, and what has happened to you.

If you take a stand with us, a stand with the world and say no to fear, we will bring balance to a growingly desperate situation and begin one by one to heal our broken species.

Thank you for your time,

Austin