Far from Home

Images of families fleeing their homes are sadly not that rare on our screens – from  Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan to name only a few from recent years. The events of the last week in Ukraine have brought the reality and the horror of such images much closer to home for many of us who live in the West.

It is hard to watch crying, frightened children and their desperate parents gathering all can they transport as they leave their beloved homes. Homes where it is now too dangerous to stay. It is hard to watch as older people mourn while the young seize weapons to defend their homeland. The fear and urgency felt by far away refugees now feels close at hand.

Being forced to flee one’s home is not only a crisis of this current moment but the crisis of our century. The causes vary – war, oppression, economic deprivation, natural disasters – but all result in people on the move. People often in great fear and without anywhere to go, and always displaced from the places they called home.

It was reflecting on this world crisis that prompted HRF to plan our next Expert Meeting, supported by the Social Trends Institute. The Home and Displaced People takes place in Washington DC this coming September. HRF Director and academic leader of the meeting, Professor Sophia Aguirre, has put together a prestigious international panel of contributors to address how people generate a home in the midst of unstable circumstances caused by displacement. Experts will share material relevant to understanding the role of home for displaced people, and be able to respond to this input in study and policy development in this area.

Meeting rooms and expert discussions can also feel very far away from the suffering we see on our screens. The aim of the meeting, and the continuing vision of HRF, is for the home to be at the heart of the global policies which affect each individual and wider society. Meeting, thinking and talking now can make the actions that follow of genuine benefit to the most disadvantaged – and displaced – in our world.

As we posted earlier this week: Home Renaissance Foundation wants to send a message of solidarity to all those driven from their homes and who are living in fear in their homes as a result of this war in Ukraine. We believe that the right to a secure home is a human right and cherishing the home is a sign of our humanity.

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Let’s develop empathy

We have been through many months of pain caused by a global pandemic that no one could have imagined. Here at Home Renaissance Foundation we have tried to share stories filled with hope, especially at a time of rapid and widespread vaccination. But just as we return to work after a period of rest, the international scenario is once again intensifying.

One cannot remain unmoved by the crisis facing the people of Afghanistan. It is impossible. Seeing people fleeing, no matter how far away they are, no matter how different their culture is, no matter how little we have in common with them, cannot prevent us from understanding their suffering. They are people.

In developed countries, we enjoy freedom, democracy, education, welfare, without valuing the effort it took to get here. We argue over meaningless issues, we fight over small details and we live our lives with our backs turned from the rest of the world. But it cannot go on like that.

My heart sinks at the thought of all those people fleeing their own country, having to leave behind family, home, parents, grandparents, maybe even children… But what kind of a world are we living in? How can this be possible in the 21st century? What are we doing wrong? We need to be self-critical and try to help those who need it most, perhaps without going too far away. Let’s develop a little empathy in our own neighbourhood.

In this blog, we try to give guidelines about the building of a home, about the fundamental pillars for a well functioning household, about how to face the difficulties (difficulties!) to keep a family strong and well managed. Yes, here, in countries where we appear to have everything but perhaps lack the most important thing.

Have you ever stopped to think what it would be like to be forced to leave your country, fleeing from barbarism, and start over again elsewhere? A place where you are the stranger, you do not know the language or have the means to start strong, where you feel lost because the customs are different and you are forced to build a new home in an unknown environment, without loving support around you or anyone who understands you, trying to minimize as much as possible the pain that your children may be feeling because no one, especially not at their age, deserves this.

This situation worries us and makes us aware that as a think tank we must delve deeper into the reality of what is happening not just today in Afghanistan, but witnessed a few years ago in Syria, and is a part of daily living in Venezuela and other places in the world. Being a refugee, exile or migrant, is never an ideal situation for anyone. We are already working on a future Experts Meeting that we will tell you about soon.