Hannah Remm is a youth worker at The Briars, the residential youth centre for the Diocese of Nottingham. Over the past year Hannah has been involved with CAFOD’s ambassador scheme, and recently she gathered with other youth leaders to spend time reflecting on the current refugee crisis and CAFOD’s response in Syria and Europe.
As a part of our CAFOD Ambassadors scheme, we a day at the CAFOD office at Romero House discussing the topic of refugees. We looked at the language we associate with refugees, the stories that we had heard in the news and on social media along with other information about the European refugee crisis. Some of the things discussed did shock me a little, especially when we looked at how often the media portrays refugees in in a dehumanising way, such as the refugees in Calais living in ‘The Jungle’ camp, or politicians referring to them arriving in ‘swarms’. As a group we realised that the language we use is so important. Refugees are still people – people with families, emotions, hope and dreams just like us.
We also had a chance to learn more about CAFOD’s response to the crisis on the Greek island of Lesbos, and in particular their partnership with Caritas Hellas in Greece. By providing food, clean water, shelter and emergency supplies, the two organisations are spreading a feeling of hope amongst the refugees which is almost like a small light in the darkness. Through listening to the stories of CAFOD volunteers who have been out to Lesbos, the videos watched that shared stories from all aspects of the current crisis, and reading many personal stories of the refugees; it was clear to see this feeling of hope amongst the people who are suffering most.
Amidst of all the chaos and upset that comes with fleeing from their homelands to escape the destruction and devastation, these people have an overwhelming feeling of hope that
they can make it through anything. It’s that that stood out to me most. These people, even at the camps, have a real sense of community and faith that things will get better. I believe that’s where we have a part to play. In the few days we spent with CAFOD, they opened up many ways that we can get involved further in situations like these; whether it be through responding to Pope Francis’ call to make simple, daily gestures to care for the world’s poorest and vulnerable people, or through raising awareness to adults and young people alike.
Over the last year, the movement of people has dominated the headlines and is the biggest humanitarian crisis Europe has seen since the Second World War. CAFOD are working with partners in Syria, Serbia and Greece who are assisting refugees.