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hkaVOICES - Spring 2018

A bi-annual magazine for the Hong Kong Academy community.

Standing with Refugees

Standing with Refugees Giving time, energy and resources to make a difference for others — a charity walk BY Chloe Dare The Arab Spring in 2011 is popularly known as the starting point of what we now know as the Syrian Civil War, an ongoing conflict characterised by brutal protests and violence. This wave of uproar in the Arab world has come to have the greatest effect on Syria as a result of the conflict started between the Syrian people and the Assad Regime. As this conflict has progressed, Syria has become increasingly divided as the government, rebel groups, and religious extremist organisations have formed, causing the country to be in a state of terror. However, in the midst of this conflict, where do the Syrian civilians stand? Syria has become the number one source of refugees in the world, making this conflict an international matter. Simply because we aren’t living in the midst of conflict doesn’t mean that its repercussions are not experienced world-wide. This ongoing conflict has displaced a third of the Syrian population within the country, and an astonishing 4.9 million have evacuated to other parts of the world. Many of these Syrians make an arduous journey to camps in neighbouring countries or even further to some parts of Europe. European governments have varied in their response to this issue and still accept far fewer than any of Syria’s neighbouring countries. Europe has a more stable economy, social system, and industry in comparison to countries taking in most refugees and could arguably better handle this influx of people if they desired to do so. This can be equally said for the rest of the Western World as well. While governments and international leaders are dealing with the problem in People from all over Hong Kong walked in support of Syrian Refugees. one manner, non-profit organisations and private individuals around the world are also actively engaged in aiding Syrian Refugees. One organisation at the fore of refugee relief is World Vision. World Vision aims to supply Syrian refugees with food and education, mainly targeting children who make up around half of all Syrians fleeing the country. Every year a walk is held by World Vision to collect donations to support these camps to give these children a better quality of life. 10

HKA students joined the walk in support of Syrian refugees. Around the world, communities come together in partnership with World Vision in a walk to highlight the plight of refugees and to raise funds to aid the relief efforts. On 21st October 2017, a group of students, including myself, involved Hong Kong Academy in this walk and raised 11,230 HKD for the movement. Everyone was willing to make a generous contribution to the cause, showing that collectively we can make a difference. Though it may not be a long term solution, any relief for these children is worth the donation. The walk in itself was also a valuable lesson for those who participated. Though it is impossible to understand what the journey of a refugee is like, the walk was a symbol of people coming another step closer to being aware of the issue. Refugees are just like us and they have been forced to make this journey to suddenly evacuate their homes. It is a common misconception that everyone fleeing is poor, but dislocation due to armed conflict can impact everyone, and often has a greater impact on those with fewer resources to begin with. It is difficult to imagine being kicked out of your house onto the streets, only to be labelled as a faraway problem that people occasionally feel sorry for. I have been guilty for acting in this same manner, which is why my group and I are promoting awareness on the issue. Orange ribbons, sometimes made from life jackets, have come to represent the refugee crisis. When we set out for this walk, we got to pack our water, prepare, stare at the beautiful view of a golf course and at the end of the day, take a taxi if we were feeling tired. All these luxuries are ones we take for granted, and understanding this privilege is important in being able to even begin to be aware of the problem at all. It is unrealistic to expect that everyone should go to Syria to prove they care, but people can still play a small part where they are now. Though it is not a lasting solution, it is important to realise the critical role all of us play, not only financially, but also in terms of awareness because once we start ignoring the problem, that is when we truly disrespect those who are fighting for a better future. 11

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