A few weeks ago, there was a post on Instagram with the hashtag #whyiwander. Personally, I wander to be reminded of the human experience and what’s important in life. But, I only realized this on a recent trip to Turkey.
The world right now is in a tumultuous state; there is war, famine, a health crisis, and poverty. For the second time in my life, I experienced these things up close. My friend and I were in Izmir, Turkey, and just by chance, we ended up staying in the area that is now being populated by Syrian evacuees. At first, we didn’t know what was going on, but some locals informed us that the men, women and children that lined our streets were Syrian evacuees. Sadly, my first instinct was to feel fear.
Mothers held their children in the street, and tourists walked past them as though they were just an inconvenience.
Izmir is a popular destination for evacuees because it’s a port city and it has easier water access to Greece. In true capitalistic fashion, a few Turkish natives have decided to turn profit on this horrible situation by creating stores that only sell life jackets. Instead of helping the Syrians, they sell life jackets and rafts to send them on their way.
As we continued on our journey, a news story broke about a little boy who drowned off the coast of Bodrum; it was then that American news outlet really began shedding light on the horrible effects of the crisis. The days passed and we saw more and more children starving, too weak to make a trek to other countries. Mothers held their children in the street, and tourists walked past them as though they were just an inconvenience. It was heartbreaking, but I needed to see it. People need to see these kinds of things up close and personal in order to feel the kind of sympathy that springs them into action.
This whole situation reminded me that we are all humans in this world, and we all want the same things in life. But we have become so provincial that we forget that in the end we are the same. Refugees, as many call them, are just people trying to escape the hell that has overtaken their countries and pursue a better life for their families.
This whole situation reminded me that we are all humans in this world, and we all want the same things in life.
At first, I let my prejudices make a snap judgment, and I regret that. After leaving Turkey and returning to the US, I felt helpless and hopeless. I want to help but I don’t know how. I am currently looking for volunteer organizations in my area and I hope to find one soon.
Traveling exposes me to the world and all of the people that live in it. Traveling changes my perspective and redefines my passions. I encourage anyone out there to travel because once we break down the barriers, we can really begin to live.
Seeing the Syrian Evacuee Crisis Up Close