"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
Have you guys ever asked yourself what someone else's life is like? What their day-to-day life looks like? What they think about when they wake up? When they eat? When they fall asleep?
I got the chance to leave myself behind for a short time and to step into someone else's shoes. Literally. As I told you guys in one of my previous articles, I am working at the Crossroads Foundation in Hong Kong. Crossroads offers simulations on numerous issues (e.g. refugees, poverty, HIV/AIDS) and they gave me the opportunity to participate in their refugee simulation. I had no idea what to expect from the simulation because I have never done such a simulation before and I also have never been in such a situation in real life.
Before the simulation started, we all got a passport with our new identity. All of a sudden, we were someone else. Someone who comes from a country that is not safe. Someone who is on the search for their family. Someone who needs medical care but cannot afford it. Someone who had a decent life and finds himself now in a refugee camp.
The simulation explored the way to the refugee camp and life in the camp. It was truly powerful and made you understand. You cannot really describe the experience, but I can say that you gain empathy and understanding. To me, the word 'refugee camp' did not mean much, because I could not imagine what it was like. I always had this picture of some tents in my head but this is as far my imagination went. When being put in the situation, you suddenly understand what it means for a single person to be in a refugee camp. To sleep on dirty ground. To have to line up for food which is not enough. To go to a doctor who does not have enough medicine to treat all his patients. It has to be noted that this simulation did not aim to show a refugee camp organised by an intergovernmental organisation like the United Nations, but one where organisations like the UN are not present.
Many people who were part of the staff that conducted the simulation experienced life in a refugee camp and I believe that this is one of the reasons why it seemed so real. Although we all knew all the time that this was only a simulation, we were all afraid of the soldiers. No one was brave enough to speak up against the injustice because all we had were words, and the soldiers had guns. They were of course not real, but the image they create is powerful in such a situation.
I would highly recommend this simulation and would encourage you guys to join it if you ever get to be in Hong Kong. I believe that it is really inspiring and it makes you understand things a little better - but not fully, because you always know that it is a simulation and they cannot give you a full experience because this is simply impossible. I remember that when it was over, they told us that refugees who did the simulation had told them that this would equal 14% of the emotions they experience in such a camp. When this was 14%, I cannot imagine what 100% are like. And I am grateful I have never had to. But some people did and the least we can do is to try to put ourselves in their shoes to understand a little bit better. To show that we care and learn to care even more.
Lots of Love,
ITEMS SHOWN IN THE PICTURE
Shoes - Adidas
Socks - Stance
IN CASE YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING GOOD
The title picture of this article was taken by my coyear Nadia R.