We planned this year’s vacation some months ago. At the time we were vaguely aware that there was an increase in the numbers of refugees migrating to Europe. We didn’t see this migration as influencing our list of countries to visit. Now on the eve of our trip, we realize that our lavish adventure is likely to intersect with the harrowing journeys of our fellow human beings as they escape from the firestorms of Syria and Iraq and strive to find safe havens in Europe.
I am reading news feeds incessantly, both to plot our course through the largest human migration in our generation and because I am trying to think of a way we can help. In the mail today was an appeal from the United Nations Relief Agency. We’ll send off a check before we leave town. Somehow, I don’t think that will quite assuage the guilt I feel as we set out on this trip.
Every news photo of a small child sleeping on a dirty train platform, or trudging along a railroad track or thrusting a tiny hand out to grab some food snaps me into the reality that there are two worlds on this planet. We, along with all of our friends and family, are so incredibly fortunate to have been born in a country with a stable government and lawful civic institutions. I sometimes think we don’t appreciate enough the security and bounty of the United State. We are so used to sleeping in a warm place, eating good food, living without fear. But, most of the earth’s population live in another world.
I’ll share our experiences as we journey from France to Greece, Turkey, Austria, Hungary and other countries through which the refugees are traveling. I hope to be able to write that we connected with a volunteer organization where we can contribute time and energy to helping these other travelers on a path so different from our own.