By Jackie Jennings-Bates
How would you make the world a better place If you had all the resources you needed?
It is a worthwhile experiment. I encourage everyone to ponder the possibilities. I think you will find a passion, something that touches your heart and can inspire you.
In the past, we have focused on safe water. It is the most simple, effective way to break the cycle of poverty. The global task of achieving clean water for all citizens is not complete yet, but it doesn’t stop me thinking about other issues that still need urgent attention.
I really just wait and see what pops into my head and then I do some research.
Child trafficking is one dreadful situation I often dwell on, but I don’t think I am ready to discuss that one yet. Instead, I often wonder how I could improve the life of refugee if I had unlimited resources.
A refugee, generally speaking, is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. There are internal refugees as well in many countries.
Numbers are estimated between 25 and 60 million worldwide, a number that has been increasing in recent years.
A refugee camp is supposedly a temporary settlement built to accommodate those fleeing whatever circumstances have driven them from their homes.
However, some, such as those housing Palestinians in Lebanon, have been home to four generations since the 1950s. Accommodations range from tents, tarps, shipping containers to haphazard buildings that have evolved over the decades in the more established camps.
Imagine you were suddenly forced to flee your home with only the possessions you could carry, what would you look for in refuge?
I think you would want:
- Basic comfort
Any parent would want opportunities for their children, a sense of community and hope for the future.
New technologies can find a home in such places of need. The Ikea Foundation have developed flat-pack shelters and raised millions for sustainable lighting and energy.
Some friends of ours worked to secure legitimate birth certificates for refugee children in Northern Thailand. Without them it was as if they didn’t exist.
Programs developed around play can take a role in lifting the spirits and putting some joy back into the lives of children. Often dance, art, stories and theatre can tell a story, teach a lesson and provide healing, especially if passing down cultural traditions.
Then there are the rather more dull things to think of, infrastructure, water, sewage, waste removal, etc. What about creating green spaces and gardens? How can we make it feel like home?
Ultimately, many camps will become more permanent and then thoughts of governance and assimilation into the local economy need to be addressed.
People need a sense of purpose and many an entrepreneur can be found.
I look forward to having more time to think about these issues, do more research and meet more people who work on the front lines to get firsthand information.
In the meantime I will just be grateful to be in my own home in the most beautiful country, surrounded by friends and family, at least on Zoom if not literally.
At least COVID has taught us some empathy from being separated from our loved ones and of life being disrupted.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.