"This Should Be Personal": Notes From A Refugee Camp
Start writing a post

"This Should Be Personal": Notes From A Refugee Camp

Poetry and prose encircling why we cannot be numb to the devastation in Syria.

"This Should Be Personal": Notes From A Refugee Camp
Ways And Steps

I do not claim to be a political writer -- as I have said, I am a poet -- but here I am, working every day at a refugee camp, largely populated by Syrians, confronted with the ugliness of war and the ramifications of the displacement of human beings. We are bombarded with photos of the current state of Syria, so much to the point of it almost becoming desensitizing. Numb, or finding it too hard to look at, I can feel a collective eye shift away from the crisis. I understand to a certain extent that everyone lives largely in their own cities of thought, but this needs to be looked at head on. These are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers; these are human beings with the same hopes and dreams and fears that you and your family have. It seems asinine that I have to repeat this again and again. When interviewed by a Swiss newspaper, the journalist asked me if the residents showered regularly. I, offended, was at a loss with the abrasive and unfounded question. A server at a restaurant at home remarked that he would send his daughter to a refugee camp only with a bodyguard. I have had enough of this ignorance.

I could rattle off the former jobs of my resident acquaintances: a chef, a poet, a teacher, a girl just one semester shy of an engineering degree, all itching in their idle at the camp. It does not feel right to have to plead for their humanity, for acknowledgement of their dignity. This should be understood.

Syria, specifically, though not the only country represented in the camp (Iraqis and Somalians live among the 700 also), was once a rich cultural heritage, with high mountains, beaches featured in tourist magazines, and bustling marketplaces. Ancient music, literature, and political ideology were born there. Since 2011, there have been 450,000 Syrian deaths, 50,000 of them being children. I have heard residents recount things they have seen, hell-fires I will never be able to fully comprehend.

Imagine losing the people closest to you, fleeing your home for your own life, only then to be herded like cattle and then placed in a purgatory, and wait to be able to restart. Many residents still have family in Syria. I will never take for granted again the knowledge that my family is safe at home, that I can call them whenever I want to. That is a luxury.

This article likely comes across scattered and vague. I am at a loss for words lately -- conditions at camp and what I read in the news can be fatiguing. I suppose it is a plea, to recognize the potentiality of this happening anywhere, and the absolute necessity for coming together in a shared humanity. This devastation is no longer political unrest playing in the background on a television. This is a disaster; I will not tolerate debate on the value of a human life.

Do not sleep through the crumbling of one of the oldest civilizations in this world. This could be you and yours, but most of all, it is us. I encourage you to dismantle your notion of otherness, whether it be rooted in religious difference or simple disregard.

Click here to donate to Ritsona refugee camp directly.

Damascus, Syria, four years ago.

Damascus, Syria, one year ago.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Life Is Messy

Finding who you are in your 20s

Life Is Messy

I am 25 years old and just now learning who I am. When I separated from my husband I was terrified of what would follow. I did not know who I was outside of a relationship, nor did I know how to be on my own. It was scary, and I was so lost. I spent months discovering who I was, and what I wanted to be. I am still searching as I believe we never truly know who we are even when we "grow up". I came to the realization that I had been hiding a part of myself for my entire life. Coming out was not easy, growing up in the church made it scary, and hard. I was told growing up that being anything but straight was such a sin, and that i would spent my life in hell because of it. I came out to my parents when I was 25 years old. I picked up the phone and called my mom, and uttered the words "I'm queer" through tears. I knew my parents would be supportive, but that didn't make it any easier for me to vulnerable and raw. Since then, I have slowly started being more authentic in who I am, and not hide parts of me just because of people's shitty opinions.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

Ask your best friend these basic questions to see just how well they know you.

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

My best friend has been in my life since we were 3 years old, now that we are adults now, I'd like to ask her these questions to see how well she knows me.

Keep Reading... Show less

Alone At The Met

I survive a day alone in NYC.

Wikimedia Commons

It was six in the evening. I was sitting in the courtyard of a Renaissance-era Italian villa, glancing around at the statues, most notably one of a boy removing a thorn from his foot. Despite the supposedly relaxing setting, I was incredibly anxious. My phone was at less than 5 percent battery, and once it died I would be completely disconnected from my family and peers, alone in one of the largest art museums in the country.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

College 101: How To Ease The Back To School Blues

Getting back into the school groove when you just can't seem to let go of summer.

Beyond The States

With fall classes just beginning, many of us find ourselves struck with summer withdrawals. Especially for those who refrained from taking courses over the summer, it can be quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, there are various ways to help make the transition back to college as smooth as possible.

Keep Reading... Show less
Dating Apps

We Met At A Bar

Salvage what you can; if you can't, it's alright to walk away.

We Met At A Bar
Anne Waldon

We met at a bar.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments