Space to Breathe and a Chance to Shine

I want to talk about stuff that makes me uncomfortable. Like, my privilege.

I’ve never lived in a place with significant unrest and violence

I have a passport that allows me to travel pretty much anywhere with very few restrictions/hassle (especially before pandemic times)

Because of the appearance of my body, I am treated with basic respect and dignity in most contexts

The languages I speak are dominant in current systems of power and governance in much of the globe

It is relatively easy for me to earn money when I need it

I am able-bodied and can physically do what I want to

I have had complete freedom and access to a myriad of educational opportunities

I can think of at least 10 comfortable houses in different places on the planet that I know I could go live in right now

… these are a few examples of the privilege and advantage I was born into, and there’s so much more.

So, what’s my responsibility as a human having been born into and experiencing these privileges and advantages while so many others suffer in ways I can’t fully comprehend?

What are healthy ways of acknowledging and honouring the feelings that come up?

In which areas am I impoverished/crippled because of my comfort and ease in life, immersed in a dominant culture?

These questions have been in my heart as I’ve worked on “A Hell so Close to Heaven: Children of Moria Refugee Camp” video collaboration over the past few months with my friend Lonaïs of SchooL with_OuT FrOntiers ¡, who lived, played and learned with and from people in Moria earlier this year.

We made this video to share the faces and voices of asylum seekers, showing their beautiful humanity beyond the stigma attached to the label “refugee”.

I don’t expect any definitive answers to my questions around privilege but somehow, this project has given me hope in humanity, seeing children be children no matter their circumstance.

It’s been a call into humility, hospitality, to more deeply appreciate what I have, continue to advocate for basic human rights and freedoms for others and keep showing up to listen and learn.

As Lonais says, “They don’t need pity. They don’t need charity. All we need is to give them a space to breathe and a chance to shine.”

Find out how you can help with the Europe Must Act movement address the refugee crisis in Europe.

To receive news from and support the unfolding situation of the thousands of people, still in limbo on Lesbos–right now, visit Wave Of Hope, a group of refugees and asylum seekers on the island of Lesvos (previous residents of Camp Moria) who work to address the educational needs of especially children, youth and women.

-Sierra