Mark is recovering but still coughing and resting.

Something we have noticed in ourselves and as a team is that we have experienced a shift, we are less raw, less emotional somehow coping with the constant state of heartbreak, the shock of the crisis. Being here witnessing and serving consumed us. We learned to maneuver ourselves within this humanitarian crisis. First we had to steel ourselves to do the work, fight back tears and now we just do it. We still hear their stories, we still see their tragedies, it is still painful, our hearts are still open but we are not breaking down the way we did. We can talk about it, we can breathe. In 12 days of hands on medical care we are still moved and outraged by every story but no longer shocked and somehow able to say “next.”

Is it that we have moved into task mode? Focusing on how to get things done, just keep moving, solving, serving? The shift, seems to be that now when we are away from the work we find comfortable normalcy in the things we are privleged to do. Initially we could barley breathe even when we were not working. We are still outraged, it is an unimaginable human tragedy, but we move easily back to our comforts. So how does one sustain the outrage of this unbearable suffering? What is the obligation of bearing witness? How do we hold this experience, share it and not let the magnitude of this crisis slip from our awareness? What is our responsibility? What does it look like to walk away and how do we carry this experience?

It will be a challenge to reconcile where we have been and the experiene with coming home. What is the global political action needed to change this? How do we face the responsibility, the consequences of destabilizing despot regimes and the business of war?

[email protected] at Happy Family we spoke with Fabian, a young Austrian man, a senior coordinator who has been here 11 months. This ngo has created a center of normalcy and provides a multitude of services (library, computer room with scheduled access and classes, small movie space, legal services, rotating 2 hour kindergarten,daycare, coffee and tea shop, boutique, free meals for up to 800 daily, gym, yoga classes, barber services and more). Refugees themselves “work” here alongside foreign volunteers. There is a paper money system where each refugee gets paper tickets, and they use this to spend on services such as the barber, the boutique, coffee or tea etc. It is dignified, it is a community center.

Fabian is positive and has a can-do will-do attitude. His outrage at the injustice, the failures of the EU, the mismanagement the human rights violations come through strongly in conversation. We would like to have another conversation with him about the next steps and returning. He is returning in a month to go back to school in Lucerne.