What does justPeople mean to you? In today’s post, one of us justPeople-people tells the personal story of how it all began.
The world is coming to us
I am a human Geography student. I learn about the world around us: the beautiful things, the amazing things but also the ugly things. A lot of ugliness is happening around us and I felt powerless about it, I wanted to help but I could only canalize my desire to help through papers, essays and not much else. When I heard that Heumensoord was to be opened around the corner, I realized that the world is coming to us. It created this great opportunity to help and to learn. No matter how many articles, essays or newspapers you read about the refugee influx, talking to them is the best way to learn.
Gather with likeminded people and get active
Like many in Nijmegen when the news came about Heumensoord, I wanted to help. I organized a brainstorm session and together with about 40 enthusiastic likeminded we talked and the seed that grew into JustPeople was planted. We didn’t know much, only that we have found likeminded people with a burning desire to help, learn and talk.
The welcoming: sincere smiles, an unifinished camp and sensational media
Our first event was the welcoming of the refugees, together with about 100 other people from Nijmegen; We had banners and coffee and tea to welcome them. It was emotionally intense: their sincere smiles, the realization of their incredible journey, their hardships but most importantly looking at the camp they would live in that was not finished. Anger, confusion, tears. We all did not know what was happening. The national media, like sharks, smelled blood and jumped on it to create this sensational story. Completely out of context, I felt again powerless. Realizing that the media is not eager to cover the truth but is driven by sensationalism and hits on sites. On the arrival day, in the front of these journalists the first refugees, later becoming our dearest friends, joined us for coffee and bread with hummus. A positive story not heard in the national media, only engraved in our memory. Enriching us all to talk to our new friends from Heumensoord.
A new community that makes a difference
Fast forwarding a couple of months, this initial contact with tea and coffee grew into this beautiful community I enjoy every day. I have made new friends, learned so many things and think we have made a difference. The national ombudsman is checking the situation, some fruitful demo’s have been organized and most importantly smiles on all faces. Thank you all my Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean friends for enriching my life and all the best coming years with the asylum procedure in the Netherlands. Remember, there is always tea and coffee waiting for you in Nijmegen.