Refugee crisis: what do you tell your kids?
It was about 6 o’clock in the evening and for once the news was on. My 8 year old daughter was sitting next to me, and she watched with me as families in Budapest tried desperately to get on to a train.
“What’s going on?” she asked me. “Why won’t they let them get on the train? Have they been naughty? Are they in trouble with the police?”
What do you answer to that?
I daren’t tell her they’re fleeing Syria, as just over 2 years ago I took her and her (then) 9 month old sister to help during The Big Aid Drop for Syria. It will be inimaginable to her that something we worked to help fix, 2 years ago, not only is still a problem now, but has reached horrific proportions.
I can’t tell her it’s because they’re trying to move from one country to another either. This is a child who spent the first 3 years of her life living in France, the next 5 years in the UK and is about to move to Mauritius. For her there is no obstacle in choosing to live in a different country.
So why does my family get to live in the country of our choice? Because we were lucky enough to be born to British and French parents? Because our skin is white?
Interestingly I’ve just finished reading When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr, better known as the writer behind The Tiger Who Came To Tea and the Mog series of children’s books. But what many people don’t know is that Judith Kerr was born in pre-Nazi Germany, into a (non-practising) Jewish family and, aged 9, she and her family fled Germany, seeking refuge in Switzerland and Paris before settling in the UK.
I think we can all agree that her arrival in the UK was a plus for us, along with so many other migrants and refugees before and since.
It’s also time to change our thinking about what a migrant is: my own family could be considered migrant – just between my husband, our siblings and me we have lived in 15 countries that are not our own. Does this make us cockroaches? Does this mean we deserve to be treated badly? Or does it make us citizens of the world at a time where the world can be found at our fingertips?
As for the treatment of these people who have already suffered horrifically in their own countries, and who have now desperately left everything behind them in search of a better life for themselves and their families?
I don’t think I have ever felt so sickened by a government that supposedly represents me on the world’s stage. My timeline is full of fellow Brits wanting to open the doors to refugees, wanting to home them, wanting to offer them clothing, toys, nappies, blankets and more. And yet centre stage we have a Prime Minister who delivers a different British message to the world’s press.
I am ashamed.
But I don’t want this blog post to be about politics, I want it to be about what we can do.
Just scanning my timeline on social media I see the same messages coming up again and again – a feeling of helplessness. But there is lots you can do, even from the comfort of your own home.
If you haven’t already seen it I suggest you take a look at the Five practical ways you can help refugees trying to find safety in Europe.
Save the Children’s #SaveSyriasChildren campaign enables you to easily donate £5, simply by texting SYRIA to 70008
You can also take a photo with your child/ren with the words
“It Could Have Been Me/Us
and share it, along with the text donation details above, on social media, and on your blog if you have one, to help spread the word.
If you don’t have children / don’t want to use a photo of your children you could also use ‘It could have been my niece/nephew, my family, my friend, my neighbour’ it’s up to you.
There’s lots that you could do from the comfort of your own home.
Please don’t turn a blind eye.
Do Something to help.
Whatever you decide, don’t choose apathy.
#SaveSyriasChildren To donate £5 please text SYRIA to 70008
Thank you x