During the Congress of Young Europeans in Budapest, which took place between 3rd and 6th of September 2015, the subject of refugees was a burning one for the participants. Some decided to help out as they could – by sharing food and drinks in the area of Keleti station where the refugees stayed. One of the participants, Manon Dervin, shared her impressions with us.
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Photos by Anna Klymänen.
Last piece of advice and I go with all the hope and goodness of youth at nightfall to the Keleti railway station. A few drinks and some food to distribute with comrades. The desire to do our part, so humble and small as it is. We come from countries where war is an old and far memory, where the exodus is a tale in history books, old photos in black and white, inscriptions on gravestones. Died for his country, fell in battle.
Those are alive and rush in hundreds. Tents. Bags. Plastic bags. Young men, family fathers, children. First come, first served. Words fail us at this time to transcribe this strange scene. Two worlds are facing them, observing each other, we have nothing more to give them. Where do they come from? Where are they going? What is their story? So many questions I do not dare ask. We are so few and they are so many. The Keleti railway station and its surroundings turned into a human anthill, large urban space that exudes idleness, wandering, tiredness but still hope. The police prowl, scatter, block the road.
A young man approaches me and asks for a cigarette, muttering the little English he knows. The sizzle of a cigarette that lights, I feel that he wants to speak.
– Where are you from?
– You’re here for how long?
– 10 days I think.
– You’re with your family?
– I am alone. They are over there.
– What is your name?
– Mine is Manon.
– Your age? 25?
– No, 20.
– Me, 21.
– And you come from?
– Oh, so you know the way? Bulgaria is safe? Then Germany? Which town? France for me, good?
– I do not know. I do not know the exact way to go…
(Silence….) Words fail him, the cigarette is over.
– I have to go Ergül, my friends are leaving. Goodbye… and hold on.
– Thank you.
Ergül, I could only offer you a cigarette and a few minutes of my time. You wanted to know the way to follow to survive and I did not have the courage to answer you that for convenience I came by plane, so I do not know in what direction you should walk. You wanted to know what my country and the whole of Europe is ready to offer you and I did not have the courage to tell you that our governments do not know yet if this is a good thing to save your lives.
Ergül, neither you nor I are responsible for what happens to you; But tonight I sleep at the hotel and you gonna spend another night out, near the Keleti railway station. Sunday, I would take a plane while still surely you will wait for a train heading west. We were born the same year, we share the same human condition and the same time passing on earth… But our stories are already so different. I shook your hand as hard as I felt small and powerless. I will never know that you have become but meeting you marked my existence forever.
Get Prepared, Ergül. Humanism is dying and the world gets crazy. It honors the dead and forget the living. Get Prepared. Because the lesson you just gave me is nothing compared to what you gonna have to face. Get Prepared.