Today was a super productive day and, given the current outpourings from media, a surprisingly positive one. I’ve been reading a lot lately about climate change and climate emigration. I think I said this before, it makes for scary reading. But today was one of those gems. The kind of day when you start to believe it might just work out. We might just be able to pull together and take care of each other and our futures.
The Bazaar Creative Sunday group met for the first time since the summer break. As usual, some people couldn’t come and we had new faces. So it was a lovely mix of old and new faces, old and new projects. Next month, if you are thinking of joining us, we will meet slightly later because of the Brussels marathon that morning. I’ll send an email closer to the date but about 1.30pm next month, I think! Lots of lovely positive vibes, shared experience, helpful advice and knowledge. Perfect!
Amy and I worked on a banner that we took with us to a big public meeting at the Brussels refugee camp later this afternoon. The meeting was really impressive. The idea was that all of the people interested in volunteering at the refugee camp should come together to be organised into groups. The help has been a bit scattered and ad hoc until now so it was a great initiative. Myself and Amy have joined the animations group to organise some activites in the camp as long as it lasts. There are many people doing logistics, food, communications, fundraising and lobbying. We feel it’s also important that we bring something of the host city to the camp while people sit around waiting for their fate to be determined.
The banner in situ at the camp this evening! For anyone else interested in volunteering, the organisers are communicating through the facebook group Platforme Citoyenne de soutien aux refugies Bruxelles. They will publish information on how the groups were organised today. Anyone who is interested in joining myself and Amy in our activities are more than welcome. We’re searching for small textile ideas that don’t take a lot of time but which can be distracting/engaging for both adults and kids. And for all hands on deck! This was the first weekend that made it clear that there is a crisis to be solved, but it won’t end here and it would be wonderful to have helping hands once the initial buzz fades.
I’m listening to the radio as I write and just now on the BBC news at 6pm, I heard that the Austrian chancellor spoke today about the situation saying that the open gates policy, ignoring the law that states that migrants must register in the EU country where they land, needs to be rolled back. He said things must “go back to normal” now that the initial crisis has passed. (I literally heard this on the news 5 minutes ago and can’t seem to find a news reference to link to. I’m sure there’ll be more in the papers tonight.) It’s amazing to me that a man in such a position should think that we could ever go back from this point. This is the new normal. This first wave of refugees fleeing death in their own lands is not the last we will see of the mass movement of peoples. I mentioned above I’ve been reading a lot about climate change, and there exist already in the world, large groups of displaced peoples. They have been forced out of their lands, either because land has become inhospitable as a result of fossil fuel mining, or because their land is literally disappearing. (This is one of many links to articles you can find with a quick google search…) Here and now. This is the beginning. I believe the sooner we adapt to this new situation, the better it will be for everyone – for those fleeing famine and war, and for us preparing the welcome them. We will be stronger for it.
The guy speaking in the photo above spoke on behalf of the refugees. Of the few short words he said, one sentence stuck with me. “We are not dangerous. We are endangered.” As a society we cannot fear this change, fear these people. They are desperately in need of help. We are strong and well able for what will come, as long as we stick together. Come along to the next meeting and see how comfortable and joyful people are as they’re working to help others out of a bad situation. See their hearts open, wide open.
I have family all over the world – Australia and the USA mostly, but other places too. And it’s not because Irish people are addicted to travel and can’t wait to get away from their lush green island. Over our long history we were forced to flee not once, not twice but many times. The Great Famine (‘Great’ is a dubious choice of word but I guess it was named in an era when ‘great’ meant impressive/enormous and not awesome) saw a quarter – A QUARTER – of the Irish population flee overseas in search of a life in which they would not be forced to watch their children starve to death. Again in the 1950’s the Irish economy took a nose dive and people were forced to journey to the UK and Australia to find work. There are many great Irish nurses in English and Australian hospitals as a result of that flood of emigration. And let’s not forget what the Irish media have taken to calling Generation Emigration. I’m one of these myself – I emigrated to find a more sustainable life, in which I could expect to live in a big city and afford a life that won’t drown me in debt forever. But here’s the catch, I’m lucky enough to have enough money in my pocket to earn me the title of Expat, not immigrant, on these Belgian streets.
There are many other things I could say on this subject, but I’ve already bored my friends to tears, and I don’t want to do the same here. Just read this one for the feels!