If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen that Belle and I have recently been in Greece, on the island of Leros. We were there as part of a trip organised by Blog Authentic, to find out more about the refugee situation and to help out in any way we could. It was a fantastic trip, and I’ll be writing more about it over the next few weeks, but I just wanted to share something that I’ve been thinking about a lot since we got back.
It’s essentially about luck.
Take a look at this picture:
It was taken by Kirby from Blog Authentic one afternoon when we went with some of the refugee families on a trip to the local beach. It’s only a ten minute drive away from the dilapidated ex-mental hospital building they currently live in, but they can’t visit often because the centre doesn’t have any transport. It’s only a small thing, but we were pleased to be able to organise some cars for the afternoon.
The boy on the right is called Winston. He is five years old and he lives in Yorkshire with his mum and dad and his two brothers. He likes colouring and drawing and he has beautiful handwriting. His mum Esther writes the blog Inside Out and About and we absolutely loved sharing our experiences in Greece with them.
The teenage boy on the left is called Matez*. He likes swimming and he loved Winston. They posed for dozens of photos together. He is currently living in Leros in a refugee centre all alone, as an underage minor, without any of his family. His mum and dad and brother are still in Damascus in Syria. We asked Matez where he hoped to live eventually. He said he just wanted to go home.
So what has Winston done ‘right’ that means he gets to live with his family in a safe country? What has Matez done ‘wrong’ that means he is alone in a foreign country with no idea of what’s going to happen to him?
It’s just luck.
It was just luck that Winston was born in the UK. Just luck that Matez was born in Syria. It’s just luck that you’re reading this now, probably from a perfectly comfy sofa or office chair, knowing that your family are safe and that you live without fear for your life.
What feels doubly unfair to me though is that so many people feel like they are somehow ‘better’ than people like Matez, that they can sit on that comfy sofa and judge him – package him up in their mind into a group of people who are somehow less deserving of love and support and kindness.
Matez is a CHILD. An ordinary boy. He likes swimming in the sea and making new friends. He just happens to have been born in Syria and is now on his own, missing his family. It feels so sad and wrong to me that life deals out such different hands to people, purely at random, and yet we can’t open our hearts to everyone, regardless of where luck lands them.
Winston talked about his new friends all the way home and wants to go back and visit them, but how can you explain to a five year old that Matez doesn’t even know where chance will take him next?
We’ve set up a fund to raise money for the refugee families on Leros. Please donate here. Belle and I have seen for ourselves what a big difference a small gesture can make. Thank you.
*Some names have be changed.