Seeking Refuge: A Call for Compassion

By Christina Kim - September 08, 2015

I stared at the ceiling with my eyes wide open, awake from my sleep.

It was 4.00am.

Not that it was unusual, since four to five in the mornings are usually my kind of time, but this was not the usual wake up.
I had not slept well.

It was just that feeling of dread that woke me up.

It is that feeling that usually made me feel uneasy and it possibly had something to do with the news that I have read yesterday; articles on the recent refugee crisis plaguing Europe and that call for help from the United Nations.

It is not something new; we have had issues like these for years and people continue to flee their war-torn countries to somewhere which they hoped for a better life, or at least for the future of their young children.
It is something which have been happening since the beginning when the nations are enveloped with the conquering, colonization and that much dreaded word; War.

We have read about them, we have seen movies on war, we have heard stories from our grandparents about their experiences (or possibly from some very very old war veterans interviewed on television and radio) and we may have even stumbled upon the old photographs of these war heroes and civilians who had perished in the bloody battles back then.
Remnants of the war are displayed at the museums and history, non-fiction books and autobiographies all tell stories about the war and the aftermath of it all.

We were not there in person, but we have been brought up, equipped with the knowledge and facts about war and the effects of it all, through education, entertainment, upbringing and through the various sources available everywhere, made even more accessible and available with our era; an era flanked by the arms of technology.

We know how it's like in war, through the realistic depictions of the fighter jets swooping down, dropping explosives everywhere, missiles speed through the air as they are fired, and houses or any form of shelter are blown up like they were just made of paper and cardboards.

Amidst the loud and deafening sounds of the explosions are the terrifying screams and cries in the air, as human beings; live human beings in flesh and blood, flee their homes by force, and running in scattered directions.
It is a fear that we can see, and made to understand through education.
But it is not easily understandable, because it is not the same as the experience in reality, which I believe is just way more terrifying.

We all know this.
We know the effects of war.
We know the pain and suffering these people go through, but we can never say we understand.
Because we DON'T.

Think of how it's like to be watching television on your couch and you hear sirens and then loud deafening crashes.
You rush out and you find your neighbor's houses are already on fire.
Everywhere is a chaos and you see dead bodies everywhere.
Fires continue to rage and you look up in the air, and objects resembling birds are circling the air, dropping bombs everywhere.

Can you go back to your television?
Are you going to walk back into your house, head to your room calmly and pack your clothes, belongings and valuables as though you are about to go for a vacation?

No, you don't have time for that.

You will only feel fear, and anxiety will be clouding your trembling self.
You will not stroll into your house, you will rush into your house and grab your loved ones; especially if you have children and then run to find a hiding place.

The house is no longer safe.

You have seen that bloody scene outside, just a moment ago.
You know that none of your neighbors survived for you have seen how their houses have blown up and the remains on the ground are nothing but a big pile of mess, resembling nothing of a sturdy building which once stood there or a place one called home.

Our visuals affect us more than our other senses, because we humans are simply visual creatures and there is no way that a picture like that outside your house which you have just seen with your very own eyes will not affect you.

You fear for your safety but it seems there is no where safe to hide.
You see a crowd of people and you make your way towards them, while at the same time watching some of the bombs fall on them and explode.
You know better and you changed your directions.
You run and you run, dodging the air bombs which seem to be falling like a heavy downpour and you wished you had an umbrella to shelter you and your loved ones.
You didn't care that you looked silly scuttling everywhere like a chicken as seen from the jets, you only want to live.

Tears roll down your cheeks uncontrollably as you are at a loss.
What happened to the beautiful day yesterday?
What happened to that last conversation you had with your neighbor, and you were supposed to have them over for dinner tonight?
What happened?
Question after question plague your mind, and yet you keep running, looking for that shelter.
You have nothing left, you have left your home behind and you do not dare to go back because it is a massacre site and you fear for your own life and your loved ones who are with you.
They are your only belongings, and what is left of you is your strong will to just live.

You just want to live.
You pray that this is just a bad dream and that you will wake up and everything will be fine.
You have no answer to anything.
You only know, you have to live.
Your family has to live.
You want to protect them, you want that safe place.
Wherever that is.

This is exactly what those refugees are facing at this very moment.
As I write this article, my mind is filled with horrifying and heart-breaking images of how these people are running around and even stranded on the boats at sea, cold, hungry and just weeping at their own fates.

It is something we cannot imagine.
It is this very picture that kept me awake.

They are not asking for anything, except for a place of shelter.
It is that big imaginary umbrella that they want to have, to protect them from the torrents of fire from the sky.
They are tired.
They are hungry.
They are scared.
They are homeless.

We can feel tired and hungry and look forward to go home where we can just snuggle into our beds, cook or order ourselves a good meal.
They can't.
They don't have that luxury.

The United Nations and many other non profit organizations have been working hard on this issue for decades, offering temporary shelters to these people fleeing their countries.
They run on a non-profit basis, relying on only donations in forms of food, clothing, medical supplies, water, monetary, and many more.
Even the people helping out at the shelters, or the refugee camps are on a voluntary basis.
One can only imagine how they have survived.
They are stretched thin.

We are not talking about one person or two; nor a few families.
We are talking about hundreds of thousands of people, and the numbers are increasing steadily over the years.

If you think that we have moved beyond the days of civil wars and bloody battles, you have been living under a nutshell all this time.

The fires have not ceased and the bloodshed continues in other regions of the world; for many reasons and sometimes we do not even want to know the reasons.

The world wants peace.
We all pray for peace.
We all pray for the wars to stop.
We hope that it will someday come true.

Today, the aftermath of war is still as gruesome as it was depicted in history.
People are still dying and killed for no reason; because they were simply in the way of war.
We have no idea of the exact count of the war casualties and only rely on those which were reported; already at a staggering and alarming count.
Heaven knows how many more have perished, unreported and unfound in the locations that no one could ever find.

Looking at the images of the refugees just tear at one's heart.
It is one that is hard to take in without stirring the emotion.

One such moving image is that taken by Daniel Etter, a freelance photographer for the renowned New York Times, which has been circulating around Twitter and Facebook.

If a picture tells a thousand words, this would be it.
It is a depiction of the hundreds of thousands out there.

This picture was featured in a beautifully brief article on The Independent UK

Originally titled in The Independent's article, "Whenever you think of the migrants arriving in Europe, think of this image"

I see this apt to refer to all the refugees around the world.

When you think of the refugees, think of this photo.

Tears of relief and the expression on this Syrian man, who held his son and daughter close upon arrival at the island of Kos in Greece on the 15th of August this year.

If this does not move you, I don't know what else would.

While we are all bothered by our every day issues, take some time to think of those who are still out there, praying for hope and for someone to take them in.

These are the families who are relieved as they have found their place.
How about those who are still fleeing in terror, or out there in the sea?

Earlier this year, we have had the issue of the Rohingyas in our region as well.

It just goes to show that this is an ongoing issue everywhere in the world.

We are not here to judge who helps and who doesn't.
It is not about that, at all.

It is a call for humanity, for compassion.

It is about hope.

Everyone deserves to live.

If this kept you awake at night, like how it did to me, then do refer to the following to see how we could do something.

You don't need to be a superhero to save the world, but with that will and heart, even a tiny bit goes a very long way.

The many ways we could help or reach out to support the networks working hard on the issue:-
How You can Help
 29 Ways to Help the Refugees

You can also help to tweet, or spread the word by including the hashtag #MigrantsContribute

*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and preferences and do not represent the general public. 
I am not an advocate/affiliate of UN or any non-profit organizations, but I do look forward to help in any way I could, even if it's my own writing and social media to help create awareness to have as many to help as possible.

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