Read about the personal impressions, individual observations and stories about certain events and places of participants after the Balkan study trip.
I’ve been a communication lover since I can recall. I’ve studied it and then mastered in Management and I’ve always believed communication has a strong power for change through information and awareness. For the past 3 years, I’ve worked in a creative digital agency in Barcelona, being responsible for communication campaigns online and offline, managing shootings and digital strategies, as well as crowdfunding websites and awareness campaigns for a local NGO responsible for refugee rescue tasks in Lesvos and in the Mediterranean, called Proactiva Open Arms. In March 2017, I came back to Lisbon to join the team of “Para Onde?”, the brand-new SCI partner in Portugal and I’m loving the experience! I’m very motivated for this study trip because after 2 years hearing the refugees’ stories from someone else, I want to be the one hearing them myself. Instead of photos, I want to see the real people, look into their eyes, learn their journey and if we are successful enough to raise awareness in the different countries about the situation, we will be able to promote a better understanding and to potentiate more inclusive communities. Hopefully, if we are able to make a change in every hometown, we will be able to chance the course of this crisis.
Back to real life
I just can’t pack, come back and forget. I don’t want to. I still have a lot of faces running through my memories, I have too many real stories that I haven’t written down. My heart hurts, my stomach squirms, my attention span is out. I can’t, I still can’t come back to real life, hear complaints with no sense, pretend that what I’ve seen doesn’t exist. I don’t know what’s expected from me. But I don’t ever want to forget. People, humans, kids, adults, real lives. They are there. And they are here, in my eyes, in my soul now.
These 3 life-changing weeks just came to an end. 20 days spent with the most incredible people, sharing our laughs and tears, our sleepless nights, our jokes and especially loads of love. We’ve seen the best and the worst of humankind throughout the route, we felt powerless, but we never stopped giving our hearts to the people that we had the luck to meet on this journey. Through clowning, playing, talking and specially listening and connecting, every moment, every eye contact is registered in my soul now, every story that I’ve heard, every injustice and life wish, every hug, every thank you, every goodbye. This experience was life-changing, I’m full of mixed feelings and uncertain thoughts, but I also feel very blessed. This is certainly just a beginning.
I have been interested in the issues of migration and refugees since my studies in human rights at university, and I gained more practical knowledge while volunteering for the Italian Red Cross and Caritas’ migration help desk in my hometown, Verona (Italy). With the Italian Red Cross I had a training to become an RFL – restoring family links – operator, i.e. a volunteer who tries and help people find their missing relatives, frequently because of forced migration.
Back to Bern, seeing things differently
Every day going to work I pass by a house in Effingerstrasse 29, Bern. This was an occupation until one morning of February 2017, when a big police operation evicted its residents. That morning, my tram was diverted without notice or explanation, so that it would not pass in front of the house (I also got lost a couple of times…). The next day, for a couple of days, the front door of the house was guarded by two armed policemen, and since then the door and windows are secured with wooden boards and barbed wire.
Since I came back from the A Route to Connect project, every morning seeing that barbed wire reminds me of the camps we visited and the borders we crossed.
There, as here and everywhere in the world, fences, walls and barbed wire are a symbol of privilege, discrimination, injustice. They want to decide who deserves what: who deserves a roof on their head, who deserves safety and security, who deserves freedom of movement, who deserves dignity, who deserves to live. They attempt to delimit lives, and sometimes they succeed in making some lives a hell of a lot harder, but as much as they may try, they will never ever define people’s worth.