September 21, 2016 Roadtofreedom

The Refugee Crisis: Have we forgotten our fellow humans?

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has’ – Margaret Mead.

When I was merely a girl people would ask me what I wanted to be when I was older, something I used to frequently spend sunny afternoons in the garden for hours pondering over. I wasn’t wholly confident when it came to career prospects but what I did know even at this tender age was that I wanted to be felt, I wanted to teach, I wanted to evoke emotion but most of all, I wanted to embody the change I wished to see in the world, and believe me, there were many.

Having come from a very intense political upbringing I’d long been interested in the mechanics of the globe and what made the world go round, I was intrigued by the Government, with their shark grins and closed handshakes, perpetually congratulating each other on being Masters of the Universe whilst the common people I identified with wilted slowly like flowers out of season, petals dropping daily.

Then it suddenly hit me. Was I endorsing the universal plight of the people by standing by and not saying or doing anything? Could it be that the likes of you and I were perpetuating the problem by turning a blind eye to the suffering that didn’t personally aggrieve us, but was happening nonetheless?

No one paints who we are except our own fingers but it would be nice for someone to pass us a brush every so often and God gifted me a whole set and an opportunity to evoke change when I met my now good friend Ra’ed Khan and the Road to Freedom team last year, something that would go on to change my world and the way I viewed it forever.
Over the last twelve months the colossal numbers of people seeking refuge in Europe from persecution, war and poverty has multiplied, tenfold, and we have all bared witness to their perilous, sometimes tragic journey from children drowning in the Aegean Sea to others being trafficked, or perhaps even the prison style camps in the Balkans have been enough to make you put down the latest celebrity magazine and really consider what travesties befall our fellow humans.

For Ra’ed this tumultuous, heart breaking situation hit home like a tonne of bricks and inspired him to orchestrate a heroic humanitarian effort, extending a hand of hope and help to those in desperate need of salvation which culminated in the creation of Road to Freedom, a non-profit organisation made up of volunteers who fundraise and work alongside official NGO’s and charities in different parts of the world to provide aid. The team (including myself and Ra’ed) has journeyed to Calais, Serbia, Samos, Dunkirk and the Macedonian border thus far delivering food, clothing and many other much needed items.

The aim of the organisation isn’t simply just to provide the necessary basic items but also to raise awareness internationally about the tragic effects of the continuing vulnerability of the refugees produced by war and oppression.

Sadly it goes without saying that the mainstream media conceal the full scale of the abhorrent situation overseas, it is a den of human destruction and a ploy to cast spells across the globe – spells we all fall under.
We live in a world today where we, the common people, have a platform to voice our concerns more than we ever have before and the greatest privilege that comes with free speech is the opportunity to use your voice for those that don’t have one.

No one seeking a safe passage should have to risk death and prison camps just to cross a border. Refugees have fled bombs, poverty and persecution believing that other countries would respect their human rights and offer them sanctuary. We cannot prove them wrong.

Seeking my own first hand perspective on the crisis became crucial to me, garnering as much understanding and knowledge as possible, hoping I could utilise this to not only better grasp the refugee crisis, but to be a worthy, well informed messenger in order to spread their story far and wide hoping somewhere a heart would beat for them.
On my journey with Road to Freedom I have seen doors shut, cheeks turn and eyes close, I’ve even been challenged about my desire to help. Many times I have been told that I should be helping causes that are closer to home, but since when did political significance bear any relevance to matters of humanity and suffering?
I question if that is what we as a society have become; People that go out of their way to make justifications as to why we should do nothing to alleviate the suffering of others? Would it make us sleep better at night thinking we have valid reasons to ignore innocent lives being obliterated daily?

Every act is an act of self-definition and any opportunity to give to another is one to be grateful for so I implore you to conduct forensic self analysis and look within, can we really sit by while thousands of innocent people lose their lives? I ask you, when the history books are written do you want to be remembered as the problem or the solution?

Joining Road to Freedom saved me in every way a person can be saved, it offered me a new perspective and insight, humbling me, but most importantly it taught me the intrinsic value of helping another and I can tell you it’s the most important work you will ever do. We have met so many beautiful souls on our route across Europe all of which have taken the refugee crisis as personally as we have, together we’ve achieved small, but important victories for these innocent people who have been engulfed in such desperation.

All of this leads to the point that if we cease to be divided, distracted and disinterested we stand a better chance of connecting with one another in love and understanding, out of this paradigm shift will come action that can solve so many of the challenges we as brothers, sisters and fellow humans currently face. It’s imperative we free ourselves from the over bearing narrative we are fed by the media and disregard the labels society tarnishes us with, only then will we realise that before our origin, our culture, our religion or our story, we were all just human.
This ongoing genocide transcends us, it’s bigger than us, but if we work together perhaps we can be the canvas that displays a brighter future for all mankind proving that as ugly as the world is, so much beauty still remains.

Elizabeth Lyne