I think we can all agree that the past few years have not been great for ‘feelgood’ news. It barely seems like a day passes between stories of tragedy, war and human suffering and it’s something which weighs heavily on my mind during those idle moments when your brain wanders. Some of the images I’ve seen on TV and in newspapers in recent years will probably stick with me forever.
I heard a quote, a few years back, from American TV hero Fred Rodgers and I find it helpful to remember when the news gets too much. He said:
“For me, as for all children, the world could have come to seem a scary place to live. But I felt secure with my parents, and they let me know that we were safely together whenever I showed concern about accounts of alarming events in the world.
There was something else my mother did that I’ve always remembered: “Always look for the helpers,” she’d tell me. “There’s always someone who is trying to help.” I did, and I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbors and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong.”
I thought of this quote again when I heard about ESSN and their new way of helping refugees. The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is a programme that provides cash to the most vulnerable refugee families living in Turkey. They can spend the cash on whatever they decide is most important. It could be food, fuel, rent or medicine.
They’ve teamed up with twelve European illustrators have come together to produce delightful new work to portray how seemingly mundane items, from toothbrushes to teddy bears, mean so much to a refugee child. The series of illustrations aims to promote the work the European Union (EU) and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are doing with their ESSN (Emergency Social Safety Net) Programme, which helps the most vulnerable refugee families find their feet again. Here are some of my favourite illustrations from the collection:
Work like this is SO important; the mainstream media seems to go out of its way to completely dehumanise refugees, to the point where people were totally unmoved by images of dead children after their boat sank, escaping from Syria. It’s easier for people to be unwelcoming of these people than it is for them to contemplate the suffering and misery they must have endured to make them risk leaving their homes. These children are no different to our own and things like a book or a teddy or a skipping rope are just as important to them as they are to ANY little boy or girl.
If you’d like to know more about ESSN or would like to see some of the other artworks which have been created for this campaign, do head over to the site and take a look.