I read how they would rather die in their own country (Syria) in an airstrike than die of cold and malnutrition (on one of the Greek islands),” said Rasha Al Riyami, one of the compassionate women, who is making efforts to visit the refugee camps in Greece after being moved by reading this quote in a newspaper and deciding to go to Greece and help the sufferers.
Al Riyami has been following the refugee crisis since it first started moving to Europe in 2015. Ever since she knew that simply sympathising with them (the refugees) from miles away would neither help the refugees nor make her feel any better. That is why Al Riyami and her friend Riham decided to travel to Greece and spend a few days at the refugee camp and help them in what little way they could.
“I travelled to Greece with my best friend Riham at our own expense, not under any local or international organisation. My parents encouraged me when I decided to go and even financed me. My friends were happy, proud and decided to collect donations to help the refugees,” she said. In spite of living in extreme conditions, away from home, with limited resources and funds, Al Riyami says her trip wasn’t challenging at all. The only challenge that we faced is that, we wanted to help them all (the refugees) because we loved them all, but of course we couldn’t... We really wished for that.”
“More than two families share the same room, divided by bed sheets between a family and another. Not enough toilets for all families. The place needs to be cleaned constantly, and some arguments and disagreements happen between the refugees,” she recalls, exclaiming that it’s a race for the survival of the fittest.
Al Riyami empathised with all those people who had left their countries, homes, families, friends, jobs, and their whole lives behind and fled to a strange country and are trying hard to adapt to their language, tradition and culture. “Their big dream is that the war ends in their respective countries, and they go back to their countries to live in peace.”
For Al Riyami, this trip was an incredible learning experience that she will cherish her whole life.
“I was exposed to people living in the most difficult conditions or status that humanity can ever imagine, which affected them psychologically, emotionally — it was clearly evident in their behaviour, and the way they treated one another... It’s a new pattern of living.” She added, “All my travels, in many different countries, were for pleasure that was luxurious and so much fun. This one was something different and which I haven’t witnessed before. It was ‘A Wakeup Call Trip.’”
Al Riyami has vowed to go on more such trips for longer periods in order to reach out to more refugees and be there with them physically if not help them financially. She wants the Sultanate to take up such initiatives and younger individuals to proactively be a part of such noble deeds in order to make a bigger difference for the greater good.