Same age but different worlds — Attleborough student’s Skype exchange into refugee crisis

A Syrian refugee
A Syrian refugee

“You have no choice, you either leave or you die.”

These are the words of Syrian refugee Abdulazez Dukhan, who although only 18 has already fled his homeland, has experienced life in a camp in Turkey and is now temporarily living in Athens. However, he hopes next to study computer science in Belgium.

Attleborough Academy Sixth Form students

Attleborough Academy Sixth Form students

He was speaking via Skype to another 18-year-old, Aaron Cahill,an Attleborough Academy student, who was moved to make contact with Abdulazez after the Sixth Formers heard what living conditions are really like for refugees from volunteer camp doctor Rachel Mannings.

Dr Mannings spoke of visiting a refugee camp in Greece where first there were about 500 migrants. It grew to 5000. “One thing that struck Rachel was how welcoming the Greek locals are to the refugees despite them losing business. In the UK a lot of people show hostility towards them, even though we are one of the countries least affected by the humanitarian crisis,” Aaron wrote in an account of her visit.

Dr Mannings spoke of treating refugees who had walked for days over mountain ranges to escape Afghanistan, and who had paid hundreds of euros to people smugglers but still feared for their lives as they journeyed by any means to get to Europe. Aaron wrote: “The message that most of the refugees wanted to get across was that they are just the same as the rest of us. They had good jobs (bankers, lawyers etc) but it is just circumstances that have made them refugees.

“They are upset that people are scared of them and they have constantly to be on their best behaviour to try and come across well. However, one person can make them all reflect badly.”

Rachel’s visit certainly opened students’ eyes to the fact that there is a lot more to the refugee crisis than the media report... it is our duty to help them start a new life here in Europe

Aaron Cahill, Attleborough Academy student

Dr Mannings also showed Dear Donald Trump, a video made by Abdulazez in which he speaks to the new US president about life as a refugee. In his Skype talk with Aaron, Abdulazez said his most important message was to get people to listen and understand what was happening in Syria. His words to President Trump were: “You can build your walls, you can ban Muslims from America but leave our country alone.”

Aaron concluded his account of Dr Mannings’ talk by writing: “Rachel’s visit certainly opened students’ eyes to the fact that there is a lot more to the refugee crisis than the media report... it is our duty to help them start a new life here in Europe.”

A Syrian refugee

A Syrian refugee