January 21, 2021

When People Flee to Seek Refuge

There is a story behind every single refugee. Conflicts, poverty, illness, civil war, famine. But is that really it? 

More than a crisis

We remember faces, stories, names of colleagues and patients, often of the surrounding nature, the local food, the music.

Tragic moments, too, when we have lost a patient, when we hear the fate of the colleague, and sometimes the moments when everything feels too much to handle, when we are tired, exhausted and maybe close to burning out.

But we still would not want to miss a single assignment.

The joy of the patients, when they made it and were allowed to leave the treatment center as cured.

The (unbelievably delicious) breaking of the fast during Ramadan together with the local staff and our little hero, as we lovingly called him, a newborn on whom we almost gave up, but who battled himself back to life.

The tours to vaccinate children in the even most remote villages and then in the evening the hours spent together around the campfire.

The tenacious will of the mothers, who often struggle alone on their own through their heavy lives in the camp and our colleagues who have some hard years of war behind them and yet do not lose their smile.

Why people flee

From a distance, these countries sound strange and far away, nothing that concerns us here.

Often many hours away by air, you may have read about some of them in newspapers or on the radio. Others may sound completely unknown.

The reasons to flee and seek refuge elsewhere are as numerous as there are refugees. There is a story behind every single one of them – something that is often forgotten when purely mentioning the numbers.

Everyone has had sisters or brothers, children or parents, but most certainly a best friend whom they left behind.

In the course of our years with SEMA US, we have heard many stories. Some of them are hard to bear.

That fewer people try to flee, just because there are no rescue ships is a fallacy. Because the reasons to flee their homes remain the same – and also it is not up to us to evaluate these.

Detention centers where torture and rape are the order of the day are more than widespread. Access to medical assistance is virtually non-existent.

What we appreciate

The strength of the people on the ground, who carry on, who don’t give up hope, is always one of the most impressive memories we take home with us.

These are walls that block the view of people in need, walls that forbid saving human lives.

Another thing that stays with us is the tremendous appreciation of our own privileges in which we grew up, the safe haven we can return to after each new assignment. And how much richer our lives have already become through these experiences and newfound friendships.

Beyond walls

Even though we feel particularly affected as a nurse in humanitarian work, we know that we are not the only one who worries when human rights are publicly challenged.

What concerns us – we  will continue to work for SEMA US. From our blog posts, we will continue to tell you about the help we provide locally in order to save human lives.

Whether they are big or small people, wounded soldiers or pregnant women, it does not matter to SEMA US and it doesn’t matter to us.

And you? Do not close your eyes, do not be fooled by walls, even if they are made of words, and do not let humanity disappear from your hearts.

We can only do it together.

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