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They Were Helping Me - Benjamin Gow

They Were Helping Me

Sometimes you get a moment to step back and take it all in. When every one of the refugees are dry, they have water, they know a bus is coming, it dawns on them that they can take a breath, and the mood lifts.

People hang their wet clothes wherever they can to try and dry them, the sound of idle chatter begins to take over from the “sallaams” and “bus, tickets” and “yalla” and instructions. You watch families sit down together on the pebbles, and it looks just as if they are spending a day off on the beach.

You hand out oranges to the kids and they smile, and you smile, and their families smile, and suddenly it’s a different world.

You should see the children when they get a lolly, it’s so funny. They start to swagger, the stick pokes out of their mouths with this cute attitude, and it’s like watching hope grow in front of you.

If you’ve done your job right everyone knows what’s going on, how long they may have to wait, and they have given you their trust, it can feel “happy”.

The sky was just beautiful that day, I was picking up rubbish as the sun set on a long day, and lots of the kids started to come up to me with handfuls of rubbish, and they ran around helping and their families encouraged them. They were helping me, and picking up the rubbish and putting it in my bin bag, and smiling.

See what I mean, they were helping me…

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