I think that the reading that caught my attention the most was the one about the organization El Sistema Greece, because it is about the organization we are going to work with throughout the next few days. According to the founder of this organization, Anis Barnat, part of the vision for his/her project is “to heal the emotional injuries of children in the refugee camps regardless of nationality or religion.” This statement made me think about the meaning of the word ‘heal.’ What does it entail? Is healing even possible in the context of the refugee crisis? As a basis for this analysis, it is first necessary to define healing. According to the Oxford Dictionary, healing means to “become sound or healthy again” (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/heal). As one may notice, there is an evident ambiguity in the definition of the word: it does not mention the state of ‘goodness’ that one individual must achieve in order to be considered ‘healed.’ It does not mention if the individual needs to return to its initial state of soundness or health. Hence, if the individual heals partially, is this even considered healing? If not, then should healing entail the return to the previous, status quo situation in which the individual was not unsound or unhealthy? Perhaps.
The aforementioned questions are the ones I keep asking myself when taking part of any humanitarian work that aims at helping vulnerable communities to ‘heal.’ In the context of the refugee camps we are going to visit, I am aware that ‘full’ healing is not possible, at least not when we think of healing as the return to the original situation in which people were not facing this issue. As their lives will never be the same again, it is preposterous to think that their lives will be ‘fully’ healed in this sense. However, is there a possibility of a ‘partial’ healing process that refugees in Athens camps can undergo? I think it depends on a series of circumstances, such as how consistent the work El Sistema has been doing in the camps is and how open the refugees are to the idea of bringing aliens to interact with them. Furthermore, I think a big part of the responsibility lies on us: the way we connect with the refugees. If we go to the camps willing to share life experiences rather than aiming to collect as much information and knowledge of their suffering, then I believe we can contribute to the ‘partial’ healing process. In addition to this attitude, I also believe that avoiding making assumptions can be an important asset that can facilitate the process.
The word ‘healing’ used in the text to describe part of the vision of the organization caught my attention because it reminded me of the savior complex that we have discussed about during group meetings for this class. I think that going to the camps with an attitude that suggests that “we are going to heal them” is not helpful because it separates our groups of people into two: the saviors and the needy. And I think this dichotomy is not helpful to promote exchange of life experiences and ideas between people, regardless of the context. And I what I aim to get out of this project we have been working so hard on is the exchange of energy, ideas, thoughts, smiles and hugs. Nonetheless, I am honestly open to whatever happens, as long as it is spontaneous, genuine and humane. If our interactions in the camps end up being organic, then I think that many great things will come out of it, both for ourselves and for the people living at the camp. Perhaps, through the interactions we are going to have in the next few days, new paradigms will be formed, and those may allow not only for the ‘partial’ healing of the people in the camps, but also for the re-imagination of what it means to be a refugee, what possible solutions are, and how we can become actively engaged in finding innovative solutions to this ongoing and agonizing global crisis.
Works CitedOxford Living Dictionary "Heal." Accessed 9 Jan 2018. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/heal. Sistema England. "Anis Barnat, founder of El Sistema Greece." Changing lives through music, 8 Jan 2018. Accessed http://www.sistemaengland.org.uk/anis-barnat-from-el-sistema-greece/.