Dear colleagues around the world, and especially in Europe.
In our European countries, December is approaching and, where Christianity is the predominant religion, this means Christmas is approaching and our cities - big ones and small ones - are decorated with wonderful lights to promote a feeling of warmth, joy and happiness during advent season. Many of us, whatever our belief system, are thinking of our families and the celebrations to come. We are probably all happy to look forward to meet our beloved ones and to expect a New Year full of good encounters, astonishing surprises, exciting discoveries and new horizons. Well, everything seems promising…
Let us think a moment of all the people being forced to leave their homes and their countries searching for shelter and safety. Can we really imagine how it must feel to need to leave home, to leave our territory, our friends and neighbors, our culture, our usual shops, our schools and our theaters, cafes and bars where we used to go to meet friends and engage in our daily activities? To leave our home country because of the need to do so, because there is no safety or no food anymore, can we imagine how hard it must be? This is of course the reality of the refugee crisis and the ongoing conflict in Syria, and the other human calamities that have arisen from it. Unless we’ve experienced a similar situation of war and dislocation, I doubt that any of us can truly comprehend it, even if we surely are all able to feel empathy and compassion. We as ESTD members are required to confront this reality in our consulting rooms, amongst our colleagues and families and a group of trauma professionals and members of the ESTD. These issues are not far from the minds of ESTD Board members.
To leave one’s home country is only one part of the problem. The other part is even sadder… wherever one arrives, he feels that he is not welcome. He is searching for safety, for food, for shelter and for help, and maybe something like understanding, empathy and humanity, and most often all he gets are hostile feelings and negative messages, he is neither welcome nor is he helped. All he gets is the message to leave, to go away, to continue travelling, to go elsewhere, or he faces fences, which tell him that there is no way to go forward… what a terrible odyssey these people are forced to experience.
As members of ESTD, this is a time where each one of us can promote awareness on the impact of trauma and the need for psychological support for these refugees.
Could we be a small part of a bigger entity, which is trying to do whatever is possible to let people with fears or phobias of the ‘foreign’ gain more confidence that there is still enough space for all of us, that helping people in need is a human action? And could we also let the refugees we are luckily allowed to meet know that wherever they finally find a place to be, they are welcome, and we are willing to help them, that we do include them into our lives and our space to let them know that there still is humanity in Europe, there still is warmth and light, not only throughout the illuminated cities in advent time, but also inside our hearts? These are the challenges and realities that face each of us as ESTD members as we move towards a time of year traditionally marked for reflecting on peace, love, acts of kindness and not being alone and scared.
Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year to all of you.
From ESTD Newsletter Volume 4, Number 4, December 2015