Over the last couple of weeks, we have teamed up with #LeaveNoOneBehind to raise awareness for their cause and to explore the topics of social responsibility, how to start a movement and the importance of slacktivism. We discussed why it is important to stay politically active during times of Corona and why we have to watch closely what our world leaders are doing. We talked about why we have to hold ourselves as well as politicians accountable and how one can do so by signing a petition. But some of you out there might feel like you are unheard and unseen, and that you can’t make a difference in the world anyway. So we decided to prove you wrong.
At the moment, a lot of things are out of our control. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot make a change. Some of you might feel like it doesn’t matter who you vote for or that signing a petition has never changed the course of action anyway. Of course, one could argue that a lot of movements were led by one person. The Rosa Parks and Greta Thunbergs of the world, but the reality is: behind each of these movements are millions of people whose names we don’t know. But yet they matter. They matter to those affected, to those who thought that no one knew, that no one cared. They matter to those who have the means to demand change and need support in doing so.
So in this article, we will introduce you to three people, to whom your support matters. We will show you three different perspectives of how something as simple as signing an online petition can have an impact. Therefore, we have interviewed three people who are all affected by #LeaveNoOnebehind, but in very different ways.
Haia, 26, student and part-time worker
Haia came to Vienna in 2015. Like many others at the time, she was fleeing from a war that had already been going on for years and yet, somehow was not acknowledged by the world. While others in the beginning of their twenties are having their most care-free years, Haia had a rather difficult time. She and her family were moving between Aleppo, Hasake and Damaskus to look for safety. This went on for five years before they decided that they would not be safe anywhere in their home country, so they came to Austria. As a Syrian living in Austria and knowing about the situation in the camps, like many of us do, she feels like governments around the world are not doing anything about the humanitarian crisis happening at European borders. But signing a petition is not only important because you show politicians that you care, it also shows people affected that you care:
“On another level, the petition will give Syrians all around the world hope that the world is going in the right direction.” – Haia
Silke Reiter, 37, anthropologist and volunteer in Lesvos
Silke is an anthropologist, who specialises on the topics of peace, conflict and humanitarian aid. She has volunteered in several refugee camps in Greece for different NGOs. The last one was the Swiss Organisation “One Happy Family”. One Happy Family has helped refugees by providing a safe space for about 1500 people daily between Camp Moria and Kara Tepe. Or at least they used to: on the 7th of March, the community center run by the organisation was set on fire by right-wing extremists. Now Silke is back in Vienna and due to the current situation, she is not able to travel to Lesvos to help the people she knows and cares about deeply. She follows the situation closely, knowing how bad the conditions in the camps are and also, that the Virus does not care about where you come from and where you need to go.
“I’ve joined the #LeaveNoOneBehind movement to raise awareness for the situation in Lesvos and to encourage others to join the movement too by f.e. writing letters to politicians or sharing the petition. To collect donations for aid organisations who are still working on the ground. This is the least I can do and it distracts myself from the helplessness and powerlessness of the situation. Solidarity and cohesion are needed now more than ever. And this movement is so much more than just signing a petition: it’s about active civic engagement through participation in various activities on the internet.” – Silke
Erik Marquardt, 32, serving Member of the European Parliament for the Alliance 90/Green Party
Erik is a member of the European Parliament and currently residing on Lesvos Island. He has worked as a photographic journalist in Afghanistan and is one of the initiators of #LeaveNoOneBehind. Erik urges the Members of the European Union to take concrete steps to help people on Lesvos, like paying for them to be accommodated on empty cruise ships or hotels – a solution that would prevent the Virus from spreading uncontrollably, and help the tourism industry. He is convinced that the problem is solvable. If governments wanted to help, they could. (Austrian leaders have clearly stated that they will not help and not take in any refugees.*) It is very obvious that there would be ways to help, if the European Union wanted to:
“The countries of the European Union need to decide whether or not they want to sacrifice hundreds of people. The European governments have to know that the people they govern will hold them accountable for their actions and they will face the consequences of their decisions in the next elections.” – Erik
Therefore petitions like #LeaveNoOneBehind play a very important role: they remind people about causes their governments should care about. They show how certain politicians think about human rights and who will act in times of need.
Something we should all bear in mind when voting in the upcoming elections in Vienna in October 2020.
If you want to help right now, sign the petition and share it amongst your friends, family and peers.
*At the same time there are people from other European countries treated in Austrian hospitals. Germany has so far agreed to take in 50 unaccompanied minors, while flying in 80.000 Romanians to harvest asparagus.
picture credits: unsplash.com