Our Life in Sweden

Jonathan & Sofia Morgan

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Category: Refugees (page 1 of 2)

Links: The Refugee Crisis

We thought we’d follow up on our last post on the refugee crisis and what we can do about it by highlighting some thought provoking articles and projects…

  • First off, this excellent video giving an overview of the crisis:
  • We Should All Be Competing To Take In Refugees, by Daniel Altman. We don’t think the hospitality we offer refugees should be conditional on it making good business sense, but since there’s been a lot of negativity in the media about refugees causing economic strain, we thought we’d share this. It talks about the economic benefit of welcoming refugees.
  • Queen Rania Calls For Unity On Refugees. A great interview with Jordan’s Queen about the reasons we can’t expect Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to be the only ones caring for refugees.
  • The True Samaritans, by Steffen Huck. Another post about the hospitality that Jordan is offering to refugees right now, despite being in the midst of a water crisis.
  • The Icelandic government initially offered to house 50 refugees. Thankfully their population responded by offering space in 11,000 of their homes. Read about it here.
  • Hans Rosling is a very entertaining Swedish statistician who is trying to get the world, and the media in particular, to take statistics seriously. Here’s his short video about the distribution of Syrian refugees:
    If you like this, you should check out his TED Talk: How Not To Be Ignorant About The World
  • Speer’s daughter and the Syrian refugees, by Abby d’Arcy. The story of one lady, the daughter of Hitler’s architect, who has taken two refugees into her home. She talks about what a joy it is to have them stay with her.
  • Germany’s Refugees Welcome has been dubbed “Airbnb for Refugees”. People can offer a room in their house or apartment to a refugee, and the project will assist them with finding funding towards their rent. The concept is spreading to other countries in Europe too!

Do you have links you think we should know about? Add a comment below!

The Day We Woke Up

Yesterday Europe woke up to the reality of what’s happening in our waters.

The sight of a little boy washed up on Turkish shores, captured our attention in a way that a million high detail articles never could.

It was a moment even the most right wing newspapers sobered up from their racist stupors and saw the international refugee crisis for what it is.

People.

It’s little boys and little girls and mums and dads, grannies and grandpas, forced to leave homes and jobs and schools and friends and the entire sense of security they’ve always known.

And they don’t know what’s ahead of them.

Someone offers them the opportunity to leave the dusty refugee camps, to take their kids somewhere that has decent schools and job prospects, and they take it.

“It has to be better than this,” they think.


The Syrian refugee families we know all have friends or family members who are considering this perilous journey.

We tell them about the news articles, the risks, the many people who drown and never make it.

They say, “we know it’s dangerous, but what other option do they have?”

How do you answer that question?

After a while the idea of getting in a boat that stands some chance of getting to somewhere that just might be better than here starts to sound good.

“Sweden is beautiful. I’ve heard it’s the most beautiful place in the world. Almost as nice as Syria used to be.” 

“I hear the people are so friendly in Britain. I have an uncle there.” 

“I want Ahmed to be able to go to a good school, and to have a future.”

The mythology around the countries in Europe builds. People without hope look for every shred that they can find. For many, Europe or America, Canada or Australia seem like the closest chance.

For many, right now, these countries really are the closest chance at a future that’s safe and far away from their crumbling homes.


Our governments and NGOs can’t manage this immense task by themselves. They need us as ordinary citizens to get involved.

So, What can I do today?

We thought we would compile a list of ways that we can take action. It’s not exhaustive, but it should get you started…

World Wide

Anyone can make a donation to the UNHCR, or smaller organisations like Hope & Trust, who work with assisting refugees in the resettlement process.

At the moment the UNHCR budget is running so low that many of the refugee families we’ve met outside of the camps have had their food budgets cut.

For those of us who pray, the 24-7 Prayer network have organised a week of prayer. You can sign up for a 1 hour time slot on their website.

In the UK

Before today’s good news that Britain will be receiving ‘thousands’ more refugees, we were going to ask you to sign a petition. Instead we’ll look at some more practical ways that you can be involved with these amazing people.

Get in touch with UK based organisations like Bridges for Communities, who work at building understanding between people of different cultures.

Check out this extensive set of links on the Independent Online.

IN SWEDEN

This list gives some good suggestions of  NGOs that help refugees and have a connection to Sweden.

Among them are Medicines Sans Frontiers who do sea rescue missions, as well as working in the ports, where the refugees arrive first. you can donate here.


Please feel free to contact us if you want to discuss this more.

Wes Anderson – World Refugee Day

It’s World Refugee Day today!

Here’s is clip with one of our favorite movie directors, Wes Anderson, sharing a few wise thoughts on refugees. We recently went to see his latest movie, Grand Budapest Hotel, and absolutely loved it.

If you’d like to partner with us when we move to Jordan in August to study arabic and work with Syrian refugees please visit this site!

Why we’re moving to Jordan (and how you can be involved)

For a summary of this post, check out this video we made.

We’ve had refugees on our hearts for a long time.

When we lived in Sweden, we chose to live in Rosengård, a community mainly comprised of people from North Africa and the Middle East. We loved the variety of people we came across and the warm hospitality of each culture.

During our time working in Cape Town, we’ve gravitated towards refugees, befriending Somalians, Zimbabweans and Malawians in the township where we worked.
As these friends shared their struggles with us, we got to see life from their perspective. We got to see what it’s like to live on the margins of society and to feel that your voice isn’t heard.

This stirred up something inside us. Over time we grew passionate about standing alongside asylum seekers and refugees in the midst of the many challenges they face.

 

 

So when the war in Syria began, with millions of people becoming refugees, we started looking for a way to get involved with those who have been displaced.

 

At the moment, 9,500 people a day are leaving their homes in search of somewhere safer, somewhere free of gunshots and mortar bombs.

In October we took a trip to the Middle East to spend time with some of these families and to find out what opportunities there are.

We sat and drank tea and heard tragic stories of loss, death, and destitution.

We experienced the warm hospitality and quiet dignity of these people.

At the moment there’s a great need for relief, with essentials like food, shelter and heat. The children are bored and eager for games and spaces to play.

In the long run the need will shift towards development.

We’ve decided that this is a group of people that we want to work with for the foreseeable future.

While we were there, we realised that to be of any real use in this region, and with these people we will need to learn Arabic.

Nelson Mandela said:

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.
If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

We’ve seen the importance of communicating in peoples’ heart languages while working in the townships of South Africa and know that it’s essential if you want to be effective in grassroots community development.

ArabicAlphabet

So in August we will begin 2 years of Arabic study.

Our studies will be full time and immersive, combining classroom learning with home visits. This is the best way to learn a language like Arabic, which is considered the 2nd hardest language in the world.

Our goal is to be able to have deep conversations, to counsel and even read and write in Arabic.

Jonathan will have to stop developing websites for the first two years, an income we have relied on for our living costs up until now. This is why we’re launching our fundraising campaign today.

Once we’re finished studying, we will use our newly acquired language skills to continue working with people from this region.

sofia-refugee-girls

Here are 3 ways you can be involved in our new adventure:

  1. Join our prayer team and pray for us every week by clicking here
  2. Give to us financially, on a monthly or one-off basis
  3. Share our GoFundMe campaign on Facebook and/or Twitter (click here)

Please don’t hesitate to email us if you have any questions.

Click Here To See Our Campaign

Things we’ve learned

This year we have some big changes ahead of us, which we’ll fill you in on in another blog post. All this talk of change got us reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned in the two and a half years since we left Europe. Here are some of the big ones:

Coaching vs Handouts

One of the big assumptions that we westerners make about the majority world is that they just need more stuff (money, clothes, etc). Oftentimes these places are rich in resources but poor in education and good leadership. Coaching encourages people to ask ‘what do I have’ instead of ‘what do I lack?’ and sets them on a course towards seeing themselves as agents of change.

Work yourself out of a job

It’s challenging to be surrounded by so much need and it’s easy to start to think that you are the answer, especially when you might have been privileged with education, experience and skills. We’ve learned that if you want to see lasting change, it’s better to go slow and make sure you pass on your knowledge to someone who’s going to be around long after your visa expires. Preferably someone from the community who speaks the language and knows the culture.

Never stop learning

When working in a culture that’s not our own we’ve realized it’s important to have the attitude of a learner. That means asking questions more than you try to give answers. It also means spending a lot of time hanging out with people, although it doesn’t always feel “productive.” One of the things we wish we’d done from day 1 is to have learned one of the local languages. Doing this would have helped us build deeper relationships and understand the culture better.

Bottom-up change

The best, most long lasting change is bottom-up, rather than top-down. It’s when people and communities take responsibility for the neighbours and circumstances around them. Top-down change is about coercion, about doing something because there’s a rule that says “you must…” Bottom-up change encourages communities to grow. It draws out leaders on a micro level.

Servant leadership

We’ve already touched on it a little, but our favourite type of leadership is servant leadership. It’s no mistake that Jesus told his disciples that the one who wants to be first should be the servant of all. He knew that leading through humility, through putting others first, has power. It speaks into people’s hearts rather than just their sense of obligation.

Have fun

It felt as if we moved to Kommetjie just at the right time. A hectic work season, intense house situation as well as having lived in a township – where you can’t escape the harshness of poverty, all got too much for us. Our surfing friends here inspired us to enjoy life to it’s full and we realized that we couldn’t sustain our work if we didn’t have an outlet. Now we try to look for fun and adventure wherever we go.

Pray a lot

We’ve prayed a lot more this year for the things that have been on our hearts. It’s been a wild journey and we’ve re-learned that change happens when we pray with passion. Although we’ve seen many answered prayers, circumstances changed dramatically, the best lesson has been that we’ve experienced a change inside of ourselves – new perspectives, clarity, peace, hope and joy have all come as a result of praying. God is good!

 

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