Helping Refugees: Part 1

After more than a decade, it was back. An insidious, slowly increasing unease, a worried feeling that the world was spinning out of control. For months I’d watched news reports about refugees drowning off the coast in places like Libya or Lampadusa, Italy.

The reports came with more frequency, their tone more urgent. One night I saw the tragic footage of a small child, lifeless where he’d washed up on a beach in Turkey.

That Turkish beach is in Bodrum, and I once set foot there. Two years after I got married we spent a vacation in Turkey. Uwe and I began with the magic of Istanbul. We visited ancient Greek and Roman ruins, took off our shoes at the Blue Mosque, and travelled down the coast as tourists on a local bus line. At rest stops the driver came around with rose water for passengers to wash their hands and faces.

We bought rugs in Bodrum and had them shipped home. I joked about magic carpet rides. We put a wool rug I’d chosen in the center of our living room. Its wavy stripes had reminded me of the ribbon candy my grandparents always gave us when we visited.IMG_7568

Now, when I looked from the television to the floor, I saw waves in a treacherous ocean. I saw the long voyage of those desperately trying to save themselves and their families from wars.

Images of bombs and flight began to haunt my dreams. I had trouble sleeping and for a while I stopped watching the news. It was too close. The borders between frivolous holidays and grim realities had blurred. Actually, they’ve never really existed to begin with.

I was slipping into a spiral of feeling overwhelmed, and helpless, and very sad.

A German friend came for her monthly massage. “I’ve begun volunteering with refugees here,” she said. We talked through much of the session and I asked question after question, curious to know how she came to the decision to help refugees. I began to rethink how to respond to my encroaching depression and what I could do.

I talked it over with Uwe. A few weeks later, I called the Rathaus (Town Hall) to offer my services.

NOTES: Part 2 to follow. Photo Copyright © 2015 Jadi Campbell. Uwe’s images from other trips and his photography may be viewed at

For an excellent blog about volunteers and people trying to get through the Chunnel from northern France to England, go to:

11 thoughts on “Helping Refugees: Part 1”

  1. Hello Jadi
    I look forward to hearing about your adventures with the refugees.
    Doug Bullock

    1. Hi Doug! I’m so pleased to see you’re following my blog. I wouldn’t have thought to use the word ‘adventure’ for my experience with refugees. And yet, it’s maybe exactly right. As a therapist I feel confident and more than up to the challenge. But, as a human being….

      These are the hardest sessions I’ve ever attempted.

  2. Well done on volunteering with the refugees Jadi. It’s important for them not just to reach safety but to find that someone cares about them when they get there.There are just so many refugees from so many wars it’s heartbreaking that we can’t learn to live together in peace.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  3. Dear Jadi,

    I read your post and was deeply touched by your description of the horror these poor people are experiencing. When I read any of your posts I hear your voice in my head and the emotions coming through. I guess we have been friends for so long even thousands of miles between us do not matter. When you know someone well you can always feel their presence.

    So proud of you to decide to help with the crisis in any way you can.

    Love, Lynn

    1. Thank you as always Lynn! It was my friend, who has led by example. I was feeling helpless to do anything but watch and get more and more depressed. When she told me she was volunteering, it suddenly opened up a door and gave me an option of how to respond (other than to just feel helpless). The blog posts to follow this first one will be intense!

  4. Hi Jadi,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, emotions, and decisions on this almost unbelievable world crisis. I read the excellent blog you recommended at the end, and will continue to read ones that she recommended. All of you are much closer to the situation than we are, especially when we are in Alaska. (we’re in Oaxaca now) Similar things are taking place with Latin Americans heading north, and I often wonder what is really happening at the border. And in the US with African-Americans. It’s difficult to fathom the desperation of so many and the cruelty of so many others.
    I look forward to your next post.

    1. Marilyn, it felt (and feels) overwhelming. But it’s going to be impossible for my life in Germany to NOT be affected by the crisis one way or another. I need a way to try and grasp its size and shape… and humanity.

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