It’s not always easy to feel compassion. It’s an emotion that fatigues and tires us and against which we readily develop mechanisms of self-control and compression. For me, working directly alongside displaced people for an extended period, remaining vigilant to the social injustices and indignant of the atrocities committed by our governments is hard work. So as you finish off your current book, I point you in the direction of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West. As you read this novel
You’d be forgiven for not telling the scale of Vathy Refugee Camp just by looking at it. Rising out of the almost-idyllic port town, with its houses nestled on the sharply ascending slopes where in the afternoon light the sun is reflected off the bay’s blue waters and warms the pastel-coloured walls, you’d be forgiven. But a visitor to the island, you’ve read Al Jazeera and The New York Times. You know that hidden amongst the olive groves of that mountain is a guarded prison.
Last year, the British public spent a total of £19 billion on presents. We each send 21 cards. Together we get through 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging. So here’s an alternative for this year. Christmas is a time for giving, but how we give can determine the real meaning and value both for gift-givers and for the loved ones who receive our presents. In support of the refugee education projects I’ve been working on in Greece, together with some friends here, we’ve launched
Refugee Education Chios has been running every day on Chios for over 2 and half year. Despite the ever-changing contours of the political landscape, the wide-scale mistreatment of asylum-seekers on the Aegean islands is a sad constant. The Refugee Education Chios project, run by Action for Education, challenges what is unfortunately mainstream behaviour and policy towards refugees. In our spaces, there is optimism, activity, determination, learning and fun. This video is abou
Ms Danou, Director of Vial Reception and Identification Centre on the island of Chios, Greece, is not the first public official to resort to absurd rhetoric. She is far outmatched by the likes of Donald Trump (‘I don’t get along with rich people. I get along with the middle class and the poor people much better…’), Boris Johnson (accusing Papua New Guinea of ‘cannibalism and chief-killing’) and even Björn Höcke (‘Let us not forget, the Syrian who comes to us has still his Syr
The students I’m working with on a journalism project have chosen to make a newspaper called Vial Life, a one-off publication exposing the awful living conditions endured by those inside Chios’ hidden refugee camp. Police guard the camp’s perimeter, patrolling the barbed wire fences that keep asylum-seekers in and the prying eyes of journalists out. As one of the student journalists noted, ‘Why do they keep out journalists, unless they have something to hide?’ And he’s right.
In the United Kingdom, education is compulsory. In fact, not getting an education is a criminal offence. Parents can be prosecuted and receive fines of up to £2500 and jail sentences of up to 3 months for not getting their child to school. Article 14 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights enshrines the right to education, including the ‘possibility to receive free compulsory education.’ But inside and outside of Europe’s borders, millions of children do not have access to ev
Hell looked much like paradise when summer came at last it bore green trees and dry latrines and when it came, came fast. And if you arrived in the month of June, It wouldn’t be so clear, Quite what the winter did to splinter Those same you’ll soon hold dear. These families, these individuals unaccompanied minors, were sleeping, eating, weeping wet not all are now survivors. For some, the cold was bad enough, and the water in their tents, others slept by foamed sea spray that
It’s 16th August and a typically beautiful English summer’s day. Clouds flit across the sky, obscuring and revealing the morning’s warm sun; wind skates across the grey estuary which I confront. I’m standing on Clevedon’s Victorian promenade, looking out over a grey, brooding though not unpleasant sea. This is where the River Severn meets the Bristol Channel. It boasts huge tidal pulls, a pair of dark, heap-like islands, and on the opposite side of the channel, Wales. Childre
On 10th August 2017, the Commune di Firenze launched the campaign #EnjoyRespectFirenze seeking to encourage some of the 16 million tourists who pass through the city annually to show more respect towards the city’s surroundings and residents. Yet whilst street vendors do line the tourist hotspots, whilst fake Gucci and RayBan merchandise is sold, I want to argue that we should support these sellers and against Commune di Firenze’s ill-thought campaign. For Italy has another ‘
At night, on Chios, around the town At quarter past eleven, A resounding horn, a sea-borne sound Comes crashing through the heavens. To those that sit around the port In restaurants quite at ease Local men of that Island sort That ouzo seeks to please, They see a boat adorned with lights And topped with three dolphins, Come steaming through the Aegean night From places they have been. But just a little way away Where lights were not so bright Where neither ouzo nor laden tray
This article was originally written for the QEHOBS Newsletter, published 12th July 2017. The air is hot long before the school day starts. On Chios, Greece, it starts late at around 10am. Turkey cradles the sun as it rises but I hide in an old, cool, stone building, fitted out and repurposed as a High School for refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Algeria, amongst other war-torn countries. As Summer arrives on the island and the bitter temperatures,