The refugee crisis has topped WWII in the number of those displaced by conflict. Over the year since the peak of migration hit the Austrian border I’ve struggled finding ways to help. This crisis is in my backyard, I cannot conveniently say, well it’s far away it doesn’t matter. However with limited German it’s difficult to find and search what is needed and how to help. Thankfully Facebook has been a wonderful tool to connect other English speaking expats who are working in the communities from mentoring, partnering with a local refugee school, and organizing donation drives. Despite lower numbers migrating into Vienna the need for basic items is still high for those who are here. A reoccurring request among the various groups I follow here in Vienna is the need for baby items from cribs, to prams, to blankets, to pampers.
After speaking with a woman who is mentoring a refugee couple I realized how difficult their lives can be despite escaping conflict and the atrocities we see on the news. They remain in an exhaustingly long process of obtaining paperwork in order to work. Austrian laws are quite strict and so they wait. Imagine if you are expecting a child and the donation center where you are staying has nothing for your newborn and neither you nor your spouse can provide those basic needs? I can’t imagine how helpless that would make me feel. Given the current rhetoric regarding refugees I can’t imagine on top of that what it feels like to feel like the outsider. What it feels like to be the one everyone is pointing fingers at.
We must change the conversation
In a world full of hate we must show kindness. When someone offers a helping hand it’s a gesture rarely forgotten and it can begin to change perceptions. How we represent people is how we treat them. What if we treated one another as if we are neighbors. The American spirit of helping those in need is the conversation we must continue. We lead by example. And so if one family can raise their child with a story of help from a stranger in the moment they needed it most we can build bridges of hope. We can change the conversation. We can work towards peace. But it begins with kindness.
I would like to deliver these much needed items for families staying in the refugee centers around Vienna. My goal is small with hopes to serve 4 families and give them hope for a better future. Please follow the link to an Amazon wishlist I’ve created if you wish to contribute. http://amzn.to/2dg9LXd