My name is Laura Pierce and I’m a lot like you. I’ve read the headlines about the refugee crisis and that’s all they seem to be: headlines. All I see in photos are mobs of people, one big river of humanity, moving on what appears to be a highway of suffering and international red tape. I can’t wrap my head around it.
Right now, the biggest “crises” I see in my American existence aren’t crises at all. They’re inconveniences. Losing my bus card. Forgetting to pay a bill. Asking my housemates to please turn the volume down on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
I’ve no idea what it means to be hungry; to be exposed to gunfire; or to be desperate enough to put my family into a boat bound for a nebulous destination.
For the last 3 1/2 years, I’ve had an office job. I sat in front of a computer in a Seattle skyscraper, drinking enough coffee to choke a horse and taking matters very seriously. This was a comfortable life, and I liked the people around me, but it really wasn’t living.
So I quit my job in late December. With money set aside, I purchased a camera and a ticket to Northern Greece. Thanks to a refugee aid organization called Salaam Cultural Museum, which takes newbies like me under its wing, I will finally get to see the refugee crisis in a personal way: as a volunteer. I want to be useful, to meet some of these people, and to better understand this thing that is sweeping them along.
I have no idea what will happen during my time at Thessaloniki’s refugee camp, or what will follow after it. But that is okay for now. What a tiny mystery those things are, compared to not knowing where you are going at all.
I’m writing this blog for two reasons. I have a close circle of friends and family, and I would like to keep them informed, of course.
My other reason is for the people I do not know, and it is this:
To those of you who are also tied to your desks, to show just how do-able this is. If I screw up royally, well, you will know about it. But I hope in a small way that this blog can shed light on some amazing and resilient people – and how it’s possible for anyone to be a helper.