On the 6th of November I went to Vámosszabadi refugee camp with the "Ready, Study, Go!" group. For me it was an important day, since my first day in Artemisszió I wanted to go to a refugee camp. Why? Because I’m from Portugal, and like for most of the Portuguese people, this reality is too distant from me.
When you don't know something, you imagine how it is. And this image is built by information that comes through the social networks, the newspapers and television programs. And most often this information is exaggerated and manipulated by different interests. Of course in Portugal we have some organizations that work with refugees and try to explain this important topic for the population, but we can't compare it with the Hungarian reality, especially of this year.
I thought that a refugee camp was a rigid place with a lot of policemen and a place where refugees felt arrested. But that’s not what I saw.
First, I felt free there. Of course that this place has physical limits, has rules, has security guards, and every family has a room. But in one building you can have the feeling that you have all the world present. Not just because you can find people from different countries, but because we understand that everyone has the will to explore the world, looking for a better life. I found children who know more about geography than I do. They have the world map in the common room, they know exactly where they came from, where they are, and why they are here. They know that they came to look for a better life, a life which is more free. I do the same, I'm looking for something in a different country, in some things I feel that I’m in the same boat as they are. Everyone wants to be free, wants a better life.
These people are so resilient! When I sit down and keep watching these people I think: if I had 55 years and I didn't speak English, German, French or Hungarian, would I be brave enough to leave my country and seek a better life somewhere else in the world? I don’t know about myself.. but they are for sure. They come by differents ways, they experience a lot of difficulties, a lot of constraints during this big journey. These people now learn Hungarian from the beginning, they listen to everyone that wants to help them, they are ready to learn, ready to face difficulties, and not to give up.
Bring happiness and hope, our work! We've been in the camp for only one day, and this single day did not allow us to make a very deep relief work with them. Each person in the group gave his or her best what they could to ensure that at least we leave the memory of a happy day behind. During the hours we could appreciate Hungarian classes which were very popular, many fun group games, drawings that have spread around the room just as the children did, who wanted to experience many different activities that we prepared for them. We cooked as well: children and parents, all together, we mixed cereals, chocolate and many other ingredients and, in the end, we enjoyed the delicious result of an international teamwork!
Almost at the end of the day we screened some videos for the children. These videos were without voice, without any language. The stories were told through face expressions, through body language, in the same way I communicated with them during the whole day. I realized that language, distance and different backgrounds are only constraints if we let them to be. We all live in the same world, in one world full of borders, with one sky full of flags, but where everyone realizes the strength of a smile. In the end, we all felt we wanted to come back. And we will!
Ana Rita Vieira