They say in the times of overwhelming suffering, a simple gesture of empathy can be of lasting value.
In a unique first time ever, Rotterdam witnessed for three consecutive days an event that celebrated human ties between the Syrian children living in the refugee camps in Lebanon and the Dutch children. Eindhoven News, as the media partner of URDA, is very happy to report about the event.
The initiative was taken by URDA Netherlands (Union of Relief and Development Associations) in collaboration with URDA Lebanon and it consisted in exchanging messages of love and peace between the children living in the two countries. The idea behind this initiative is simple but deep: Let us exchange snippets of our lives and show some compassion in trying to understand the other better.
It all started when a small Syrian boy in Jasmine village in a refugee camp in Lebabnon expressed his utter loneliness in these words: “I feel alone here and no one knows me, there is no one to share my feelings with, and I can’t even look forward to a letter from a friend! ″
URDA who initiated this project called ‘Share a piece of peace with a refugee’ (Ruil een stukje vrede met een vluchteling) made sure that not only the messages reached the children in the camps in Lebanon but also that those were translated for them in Arabic. The letters arrived in hundreds, were sorted, and sent, to the children far away from home. Messages of hope written not only with crayons and ink, but with love.
The result was heartwarming: the effect of having total strangers reach out and share their feelings was an experience that touched them deeply. The messages they penned back along with the pictures depicted a part of their lives, their struggles, and situations that they find themselves in.
The three days event starting from 8th July took place in Pages Bookstore Cafe in Rotterdam. While the first day focussed on discussions on the feelings of refugees, their reactions to the messages that they received, and the influence of initiatives such as these on supporting refugees and people in need in war-affected areas, there were other items like an oriental music show by Mr. Safi Alhafez, a Syrian artist from Spain, a live show via Skype for the Syrian refugees by the Dutch clown Olala, a performance by the Dutch children’s choir called kinderkoor ‘de Parels’ who had presented an Arabic song. The Syrian children too sang songs in return from their culture.
“When words and shapes are expressed in this way, without limits or restrictions, they have the power to explain the compassionate relationship that is possible between human beings,” said Alaa Arbash, CEO of URDA Netherlands. “It was a real Humanitarian festival and an initiative that deserves to be held again.” Maisa Alhafez, URDA Netherlands´event manager, talked about the positive impact this initiative has had on Dutch people and talked about their interaction with the event.
Stichting URDA, the international refugee organization, is a nonprofit charity organisation that is involved among many other things, Pschysocial, shelter and relief support to the refugees.
Eindhoven News felt privileged to be a media partner and lend its circulation support to this heartwarming event of human connection and understanding that surely imparted a comforting sense of camaraderie for the child refugees, bringing them hope and acceptance – giving them a new light within their world.
For Eindhoven News: Chaitali Sengupta