Grateful

Sometimes I hear volunteers talking about the fact that refugees are not always ‘grateful’ when receiving aid.

This rubs me up the wrong way a little… Grateful? To have to leave their country due to war and persecution? Grateful to have nothing but the clothes on their back? Grateful to be leading a life so far from normality or security?

Anyway I wanted to share a piece of information with you guys that I’ve heard a couple of times now that might bring a little light to this issue…

Sometimes, during distributions of donations in Lesvos or in Calais, refugees can be particular about what they want. A certain style, a certain colour, unhappy with what they are given. Naturally this causes tension and frustration amongst the volunteers, trying their best to help and not expecting such behaviour in return…

However… it seems that the clever smuggling rings in Turkey and beyond, sell the work of volunteers and NGO’s as part of the package they offer. For example, they tell refugees that the $1000 they pay to cross the Mediterranean in a rubber dinghy includes warm, dry clothes upon arrival (actually from volunteers), transportation on buses to the registration camp (infact provided by UNHCR), and a hot meal when they get there (lovingly made on mass by the Pikpa team).

In Calais it’s a similar story, many arrive to the camp with the promise of ‘accommodation’ for them and their families when they arrive. Once there, the smugglers are of course nowhere to be seen, leaving people either feeling they are owed a place to sleep, having paid for it, or totally devastated and defeated by the reality of the ruthless situation.

The more I learn the more shocked I am by the cold hearted brutality people will extend to in order to make money. I hope the power of social media in raising awareness about such things extends to the people that need this information the most…

Same about the fake life jackets being sold that actually absorb water… the more communication, the more knowledge, the harder it will be for these people to continue to scam the most vulnerable of us all…

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