What Can I Say To Console Refugees? This Is War

  • By Netanel Nissim Nagar

 

War.

As someone born in 1996 in the United States but grew up here, in Israel, I never really understood what war meant. In our country, the surrounding regions are not usually at peace with us, so in turn, unfortunately, we have a lot of experience fighting. However, it is always one operation after another. It’s not a war of one nation against another nation, but a terrorist organization against a nation. There are missiles here, attacks there, and some operations, but it’s not really a war.

Netanel giving a Ukrainian refugee child a candy and some food

War.

When we reached the border we found people who left everything behind, children and their mothers without their husbands and fathers, and older parents without their sons, because men between the ages of 18-60 were recruited for the war. We saw mothers holding their babies with freezing hands, without strollers, without enough food and diapers and other necessities to last more than a day or two, if at all. Their main concern was just running far away and escaping the war, their main concern was to keep the members of their families safe, whoever they could. 

 

They turn around a moment after crossing the border out of Ukraine and start to cry. They cry for those who they had to leave behind. They cry because they had to leave everything to survive, and journey into the unknown. They don’t know where to go, where they will sleep, what they will eat, and who will take care of them. But in their hearts, they want to be happy. 

 

At this very moment, we enter the picture, we engulf the refugees in warm, comforting hugs, we give toys to the children, children who don’t understand why they ran away from their homes, why their mothers are crying, and why their fathers did not come with them.

 

We provide psychotrauma support and emotional stabilization. We provide medical treatment to those who need it. Some of them have been walking for days on end and waiting for hours in the freezing cold at the border until they were given entry to Moldova, so naturally, it takes a toll on their physical and mental wellbeing.

 

The story that was most difficult for me, is of a family that we met at the border who told us that when they had started to run away, the mother’s parents were a bit delayed and told them to hurry on ahead. After half an hour, a missile hit the area where they used to live, and they do not know if her parents survived or not.

 

And in my head echoes the voice of a little boy asking, ‘Where’s daddy, where’s mommy?’

Is he standing here? The boy is asking for just a little consolation.

And what should we tell him? 

War.

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