A Cow, a Lemon Tree, and a Little School

no picture Student and UNICEF volunteer
Virginia Barchiesi
Member since February 5, 2017
  • 10 Posts
  • Age 15

I was born into a privileged environment. Into a wealthy family, in an area of Italy where, despite global issues, poverty only exists in the form of essays to be read at school. Sensitivity for people who suffer is left to the church or humanitarian organizations so that even though people here probably know that places like the Za’atari camp (in Jordan) exist, they are not a concern of their everyday lives.

Luckily I was born into a very open-minded family, in which I was able to discover the injustices in this world at a rather early age, through traveling the African and Asian continents, and through reading.

One of the most interesting and important experiences I've had was volunteering with UNICEF in Italy and starting a project which aims to teach our language to the sons and daughters of migrants and refugees.

In doing this I’ve come to understand deeply something that blew my mind. No refugee wants to be a refugee. And some migrants don’t really want to be migrants, but they need money and a future for their children.

Now you can say that this is an obvious thing but I can tell you that for many people it’s not. They’re always saying that we’ll be invaded by migrants and refugees who are coming to Europe.

These people would probably prefer staying at home but they are always (in the case of refugees and most of the times in the case of migrants) escaping unsustainable living conditions.

I’ll always remember a little girl from Bangladesh who used to tell me that she wanted to go back home. She always told me about her village and the shelter that she had to share with her whole family. She had a cow, and a lemon tree, and a little school by her village’s mosque. She would wake up and go to the mosque and after her prayers she would go to school.

She said that even though she was poor there, she was happy.

Her sadness made me understand the importance of helping these countries to solve problems such as bad governance, poverty, lack of employment, and exploitation of children through labor, with the aim of making these communities self-sufficient.

My dream for the future is that politics and diplomacy within the humanitarian aid sector will finally cooperate in order to respect the rights of every human being to live their lives and not just to survive (even though surviving would already be a great result for many too).

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