I came back from 5 weeks working in Ethiopia and South Sudan, and with a short trip to Nairobi.
Exceptional countries for many different reasons. Unique.
I Ethiopia I mainly worked with Goal's teams in Gambella's refugee camps; welcoming people fleeing South Sudan, and with organizations responding to unaccompanied children on the move: street children, immigrants...
In Gambella alone there are over 120'000 refugees. Only 10% of them are men. The Men are mostly still in South Sudan, trying to save their cattle, fields and property. Women, children and old people have moved to seek security and to ensure survival.
They feel that life in a camp is better than life at home. Says it all.
It was very powerful to be there when Europe was -finally- opening its eyes on the people choosing to move out of their homeland and seeking refuge in a foreign land. It felt as if the Old lady woke up after a huge binge-drinking bender, with a headache and somehow surprised about "What the hell is happening?".
There are an estimate of 60 millions refugees and internally displaced people in the world today, among which 19 millions are refugees and asylum seekers. In 2014-2015 the USA welcomed 121.000 of them, Russia 274.000 and the entire European Union member states 695.000.
On one side people are debating their hospitality and hosting ability, they are wondering what makes it impossible for the migrants to stay in their homeland. They are fearing for their comfort and respond with hate. They are showing the worst: locked doors, fear, hate, racism etc. True pollution.
On the other hand, some opinions shared publicly are showing compassion, empathy and the best human can give: love and care.
Ethiopia revealed itself to me by the kindness and hospitality of the people. Without understanding the languages, discovering a society so truly fundamentally different than mine, I felt hosted and welcomed by all. From the coffee ladies, the bar-customers, the social workers or the people sitting and looking whilst I am drawing, I really felt a true interest in being with me.
Very uplifting indeed.
I loved being there, experiencing the polychomatic world of diversity, having my soul strengthen, and my comfort shaken. I love feeling the togetherness. It is cool.