The engineer on the radio was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The three sentences he spoke made me cry.
Germany has begun border checks on the Austrian border. Just as I pulled up at home after this morning’s school run the news came on. In broken English a young Syrian communications engineer explained how he was fleeing Syria and hoping to seek refuge in Gerrmany. He had made it as far as the Czech Republic when he heard Germany has temporarily closed its borders. He wanted a better in life in Germany.
Germany, where tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have been welcomed in the last few weeks. Where everything is in some way linked to engineering. Where I work every day with communications engineers.
I cried for him. Despite all the news stories of dead or orphaned children, of bereaved parents and of the families torn apart, I haven’t cried. I have been blocking it out, telling myself I can’t save them all. There are just too many. Thinking of those children, those families and crying over them won’t help anyone.
But this engineer’s story made me cry as I sat in the car in front ouf my house. It was so normal. He is an engineer like my colleagues. He just wants a normal life like they have, without war or fear. But he didn’t make it to the border on time.
The rational part of me reminds me that he still has a hope of a better life. He’s educated, young and has already made it as far as Europe. I suppose it was because I could partly imagine his situation that I was so moved on hearing it. I can’t imagine the desperation and fear that would make me grab my children and run and take whatever slight chance we had to get away.
Every day I get e-mail from avaaz or post from Unicef, newsletters from The Order of Malta or my children bring donation requests from school and kindergarten for their own needs or for local charities. So much help is needed everywhere. I help as much as I can. I donate cash, food, water, my time, my energy and cakes for bake sales. But I can’t save the world by myself. Neither can you. But if we work together, with our friends, families, neighbours, everyone they know and everyone they know and so on, we can do our best.
Germany can’t take in all the refugees that want to come here. With the best will in the world, sometimes there needs to be a little break. A break to find more tents, to process the people who have arrived, to avoid a descent into chaos.
So while we’ve shut up shop for a few days or weeks, do you best to do your part, won’t you?