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Viewpoint from Victor Hulbert 15/07/2016 

Victor Hulbert 1Victor Hulbert
Communications &  Media Director
Seventh-day Adventist Church, Trans-European Division

I feel I make a difference!


It was a stark, uncomfortable question that the 14-year old Yazidi boy asked me.  “If you as a European had seen 500 people killed right in front of you, how would you feel?”  How could I respond?  I can’t even imagine one family member being killed in front of me.  No wonder that Assad does not sleep at night, has psychosocial problems, and needs security – a security that would come from being with family

dove leftI met Assad at a refugee camp.  I’d never been to one before, but had heard so much in the media that I thought I should investigate for myself.  EasyJet took me the three hours to Thessaloniki, Greece;  I then drove south two hours to Petra refugee camp on the slopes of Mount Olympus.  There were no Greek gods to thunder at me on that famous mountain, but rather 1,114 Yazidi refugees, 480 of them children, the majority of the rest of them women.  I may have heard their stories from a distance, but meeting them face-to-face, that was something else!

Assad has an older brother.  He left northern Iraq for Germany three weeks before him. Despite the treacherous crossing across the Aegean Sea to Lesbos, he arrived safely.  Assad, as an unaccompanied minor, then started his own journey, following in his brother’s footsteps – only he couldn’t.  By the time he reached Greece the borders were closed.  As a Yazidi, a persecuted minority, he is not safe in Iraq or Syria. He cannot go back home.  Like 50,000 other refugees, he is stuck.  The Greek government and various charities are doing their best but ultimately, for Assad, the only answer is to be reunited with his brother

I heard many similar stories during my time at the camp – after all, the residents have little else to do but talk.  They want their story to be heard. They are crying out to the world to be heard.  But there is another side to the story that impressed me, gave me hope.  I also talked to and watched the Aid Workers and volunteers

Dove rightSara Koujji is an interpreter working for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).  She spends most of her time with children and teens, helping psychologists with psychosocial care.  Why does she do it?  “Because I feel I belong here and I make a difference” she says.  I watched her and other staff go way beyond the call of duty, sharing skills, but more importantly, unselfish love

Frank Brenda is in charge of the ADRA programme.  He says, “I have this passion – the passion that I want to minister and actually to help people and also show the love of Jesus Christ through what we are doing”

That is something I understand – and having visited my first refugee camp, I too feel that need to make a difference.  I know look at this crisis through different eyes

watch Victor’s moving video report: