This picture was taken by a friend during our trip from the roof of our hotel. God is truly majestic!!
I was randomly asked recently, if you had to instantly pack up a few belongings for you and your entire family to leave your home and possibly never return what would you take with you?
Being the melancholy person I am a bunch of questions popped into my mind... Why? Where am I going? How am I traveling? How many bags can I have? Can I take my purse w/ wallet, identification, passport, phone? How many of my photo books, family/wedding pictures and children's keepsakes can I take with me? Can I stop by an ATM for cash? I'd be a mess trying to sort this all out with limited time.
For me this is only a hypothetical question but for most refugees who had to flee with short notice this is a reality. They have left their homes and everything they know and worked hard for, in order to avoid harm/death.
The harsh reality of the "typical" refugee living in Greece is that they don't want to live there indefinitely but that may be what happens for many of them. For a while Greece was at the front line of the refugee crisis. In 2015 1.2 million Syrians, Iranians, and Afghans fleeing conflict headed through Greece to get to Northern European countries until the borders closed at Macedonia leaving more than 53,000 people trapped in Greece and in limbo of what their future holds. I'm not 100% sure what that number looks like today.
I wanted to know more about why the economy in Greece is in such poor shape. Was it due to the overwhelming influx of refugees? After some basic research I've gathered that Greece has actually been in a financial crisis for many many years before the refugee crisis took place, which has essential added more onto their plates.
The 1999 introduction to the Euro bound 19 nations into a single currency zone which would bring Greece's lackadaisical spending and extreme borrowing habits to the light. In 2008 after Wall Street imploded Greece became the center of Europe's debt crisis. In 2009 Greece was shut out from borrowing in the financial markets due to understating their deficit figures for years and by 2010 they were veering towards bankruptcy.
After several bailouts which brought about deep budget cuts and steep tax increases essentially putting Greece in more debt, the economy is what it is today. High unemployment rates and limited work and financial support for the Greeks, means no jobs and limited support for the mass amounts of the refugee population stuck in Greece as well.
Many refugees living in Greece do so in desperate situations. They have no healthcare, no work/income (or extremely limited), they don't know the language, children's education and future employment is questionable, and living situations are undesirable (for many it's tents, large shipping storage containers, barbed fenced-in camps, or multiple families living in 1-2bedroom apartments).
For example-The other day I was standing on my couch and fell off and landed onto my wrists (long story smh) and by the next day all within about a 4-5hr span of time I had scheduled a Dr. appt, was seen by my Dr, had an X-ray completed, and was at Walgreens picking up meds for inflammation and a wrist brace. There are people in Greece who have been dealing w/ serious illnesses, tumors, and other ailments for 2+ years with NO medical treatment or plan in sight because no one will help them and/or help is limited. Talk about perspective...
We really must put ourselves in other people's shoes when we view the refugee crisis. What would you do? How would you feel to not be wanted in your home country as well as everywhere else you flee to? It’s been mentioned, "We just want to be accepted somewhere. We want to go someplace where we are welcomed and accepted."
They are exactly like most of us- they had fulfilling lives, thriving businesses and professions, homes, loving families, etc and made life or death split-second decisions to leave. This could have been me! It's not me only because of where I was born, not because of anything I've done personally. I'm not better or more worthy of a safe and free life than the next person.
There is definitely not enough time nor space to write about what all is going on around the world. There are so many needs and causes to support in the US and abroad.
As we go about living our comfy lives (which by the way no matter how much money you feel like you have or lack thereof the harsh reality is that in comparison to most of the world, here in America we live pretty comfortable lives) please remember there is real struggle out there! Just because something isn't affecting you personally doesn't mean your heart should not be burdened for those causes.
As we go into the holidays, try to incorporate ways to help someone else in need. Ive made it clear in my house I'm not bringing in more toys and stuff w/out giving away some of what we already have! Build relationships with people who don't look like you, ask people their story and really listen.
Ive already made this post MUCH longer than I had planned so I'll end with this feeling I experienced...
As my heart was saddened by stories and experiences, my heart was also overwhelmed and filled w/ joy and thanksgiving for the level of love and hospitality shown to me. I experienced people who had very little from a economic perspective, enthusiastically want to share what little they had with me. They were willing to give their last to a guest in their home.
The Bible is full of stories on hospitality yet it often amazes me the extreme level of hospitality given by non Christians. As Christians we are called to this and I am as guilty as the next of sometimes not going that extra mile, so I’m vowing to do better Lord!!
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.
When a foreigner lives with you on your land, you must not oppress them. You must regard the foreigner who lives with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, as you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God.