Home is a need of the soul

by Raphael Marcus, 2012/06/20

Danzig, June 14, 2012, shortly before 10.30 pm: Spain and Ireland are facing each other in the group match of the European Championship. It is minute 88 of the match and Spain is far in the well-deserved lead with a score of 4:0. However, the Irish football fans are famous for not letting such an obvious defeat prevent them from celebrating their heroes. Nor from singing. They sing for several minutes, the players have long since left the field. And again and again the fans sing the chorus “Low lie the fields of Athenry" at the top of their voices.

In 2011, 42.5 million people were forced to flee their homes. The consequences for those affected are dramatic; often their new homes are huge tent cities in the desert. Photo: humedica

This song is the unofficial hymn of Ireland and it is sung at all important national events. For the Irish, it is a link with their people's history and it commemorates one of the worst eras on the Green Island.

The Fields of Athenry” tells the story of the deportation of an Irishman, who was forced to leave the country because he had stolen food during the “An Gorta Mor”, the great famine in Ireland between 1845 and 1849.

No matter if people emigrated on their own accord or if they were forced to leave their country, the great flight and the Irish diaspora resulting from it are still part of the nation’s identity. Those who became refugees at some point in their lives will always consider this unreal and desperate situation to be part of their identity, of their history.

Looking into an unknown future, being dependent on help and confronted with various existential threats, setting up a new home in a foreign environment: a flight changes persons and their descendants substantially, maybe forever.

Most refugees live in terrible misery and are inevitably part of a disaster that brings on severe consequences and incredible suffering. No matter if people have to flee across the borders of their country or within their own country, because of conflicts, hunger or poverty - the reasons for a flight are only of secondary importance. What is most important is that the loss of one’s home is an often underestimated injury to one's soul, as the French philosopher Simone Weil once wrote: "To be rooted is, perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.

As is the case in numerous other disaster scenarios, those affected worst by a flight are the children. Photo: humedica

June 20, 2012, two days after Ireland played its last game of this European Championship, was the World Refugee Day. This day is intended to commemorate an incredibly high number of affected persons. According to statements of the UN Refugee Agency, the number of refugees in 2011 amounted to 42.5 million people. And the issue of so-called famine refugees is still as relevant as it was during the “An Gorta Mor”, the years of disaster in Ireland.

Soon, the sixth refugee camp will be opened in the Dolo Ado region at the Ethiopian-Somali border. It is expected that all other camps will have reached their capacity limits within only a few weeks. The number of refugees in this region has recently increased to more than 150,000 persons, and up to 1000 more refugees arrive every week. They all fled famine and violence, and often certain death.

An end to this development is not in sight. Quite the contrary: the so far latest wet season once more brought only insufficient rain, and the violent fights in Somalia are continuing.

On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, the humedica team at Melkadida, one of the refugee camps in the Dolo Ado region, planned various activities that went beyond the daily routine of medical aid. The intention was to remind both refugees and assistants that they were not forgotten by the rest of the world. In such a deserted and miserable place, this is the least we can do in order to show our empathy.

Today, I would like to thank all refugees for their patience, their desire to live and also for the gratitude they show towards our committed assistants. At the same time, I would like to thank in particular our team in Ethiopia for their untiring efforts under the most difficult conditions. You are not forgotten!

Our objective is to continue supporting people in misery, above all also displaced persons, refugees, people who have lost their homes! Please support our disaster relief measures by means of a targeted donation. Thank you very much!

      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference “Famine Relief Africa
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren
      SWIFT-Code: BYLA DE M1 KFB
      IBAN: DE35734500000000004747

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