On April 20th in the South Oval, there was an event put on by the OU College of International Studies Leadership Fellows called “Humanize Me.” The event was an interactive presentation of sorts that was about Syrian refugee crisis awareness, which is something that I try to stay informed about, and that I’ve mentioned in a few other posts before.
The group had a table set up where they had several pages of information about the crisis—of course, I took them all, because that’s my kind of literature. To the side of the table they had a spinning wheel where people could spin to see, if they were a Syrian citizen, how they might be affected by the conflict in the country. They had it set up so that most of the wheel options involved fleeing the country, but I was one of the lucky ones who got to stay in my home with the help of humanitarian aid. There were other options, too, such as remaining in the country with no need of humanitarian assistance, and remaining in the country with no assistance, although it was needed.
Part of the event also involved very colorful path of small flags that followed one refugee’s journey from Aleppo, Syria, to Hamburg, Germany. For each stop of Ahmed’s hard journey, there was a piece of paper detailing his struggles. It was a scary and difficult journey indeed—several times, he feared for his life, he avoided police (he was arrested once) and robbers, and crossed several unsafe borders all without the necessary documents. Many refugees who set out on the journey, men, women, and children alike, never reach their final destination. However, Ahmed is one of the lucky ones, and is now safe in Hamburg with bare essential supplies needed to survive.
There were hundreds of flags guiding the path from Aleppo to Hamburg in a rainbow, and they represented more than just the journey from Syria to Germany. According to the signs, every one of the hundreds of flags represented 11,500 people who have fled from Syria, 1,600 people who are internally displaced, 790 people who have been killed, and 3,700 who have been wounded. The flags did not include the statistic that more than 3,770 migrants perished crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2015—mostly in boats that were hardly sea-worthy, but the refugees had no other choice.
It makes me so angry that people have the audacity not to care about their fellow human beings. That is all I will say in an effort not to start a rant.
The event was very informative and well-laid out by the Leadership Fellows. I hope to see more events like this in the future, where all passersby can go on a “Journey to Germany” on their lunch break.