I served with Refugee Support in Greece at Katsikas Refugee Camp in December 2018. Their actions are guided by the mantra “Delivering aid with dignity.” The organization, with the thousands of volunteers who assist them, deliver essential aid through their directive without the expectations demanded by Europe’s politics.
I would like to frame my proposal for change in an analogy; to make a dinner party a successful event, we show hospitality and openness to our guests. We don’t expect them to adhere to nuances the host possesses, through these actions, we are showing our guests dignity by respecting their beliefs. When one extends a courtesy, the performance is reciprocated, the guests mirror our actions. Could the metaphor of the dinner party or the dignity model illustrated by Refugee Support EU, be broadened to Europe’s policy of refugee settlement and integration into society? I believe it could, dignity and respect are at the core of humanitarianism, it is a quality possessed by not one group alone.
Tucked amongst the UN supplied shelters in the camp at Katsikas, small makeshift restaurants have appeared. The hospitality of the restaurant host, despite what they have endured and suffered, was warm and welcoming. I’m sure at one of my visits, I unknowingly committed at least one faux par. However, nothing was said; tolerance, understanding, and dignity was the mutual language in our meeting – a trinity of values that should be present in all interactions.