When humans are deprived of their freedom they can hardly feel as if they’re really human. When humans are deprived of their dignity they can hardly feel as if they’re really human. When humans are deprived of their rights they can hardly feel as if they’re really human.

I don’t understand why there are borders. I don’t understand why different rules apply to people coming from different countries. I don’t understand why being born in a certain place determines your life. I don’t understand why there are obscenely rich people in this world, while others struggle to survive. I don’t understand how one “person” can harm and is allowed to harm so many humans. I don’t understand how humanity accepts the atrocities of a dictator. I don’t understand how the situation in the world today could even be considered normal. Hopelessly, I keep wondering but I simply cannot understand. What I can understand is following your survival instincts. What I can understand is seeking freedom. What I can understand is demanding dignity. What I can understand is sacrificing your life for your rights as a human being.

I’ve been at the Serbian – Croatian border where thousands of refugees enter Croatia as they try to get closer to their finish line. As families with infants try to get closer to a safe home. As mothers try to get closer to peace and reunion with lost family members. As fathers try to get closer to beloved sons and daughters. It has been very emotional and hard to witness what these people are going through, but what I feel cannot even be compared to what these suffering refugees must be feeling.

Today I don’t want to talk about politics, that’s not the point of my story. I don’t want to talk about religion, race or nationalities either. Today I want to talk about humanity. The current refugee situation is inhuman. What’s going on in the Middle East is inhuman. What refugees have been through on their path to a normal life is inhuman. And even though one would never say that in a situation like that I could have witnessed humanity, that’s exactly what happened. In the most inhuman situation I have witnessed humanity. I have witnessed policemen from all over the country gathered at the refugee camp, the border and the train station. Policemen that work in 12 hour shifts welcoming the refugees, helping them and carrying candy in their pockets so they can make little children (that have been travelling on foot from another continent) smile for at least a moment. I have witnessed volunteers that try their best to help these tired, hungry and confused people. I have seen clowns that sing and make balloon animals to take little children’s minds off of what’s happening for at least a while.

In the people chasing a better tomorrow I have seen strength. I have seen desire in the ones going through less than desirable things. I have seen power in the people that could have easily felt powerless – considering how much they’ve already gone through and not knowing what awaits them. I have seen optimism from people going through things that cause sadness in most of us. I have heard laughter from children that didn’t have much to laugh about. I have seen hope in the eyes of those who could have easily felt hopeless.

The lessons life teaches us are funny, life is funny… In the most inhuman situations it reveals powerful traces of humanity. In the darkest of times it reveals bright rays of light. In the horrors of today’s world it reveals hope. That day I learned two things: that a firm handshake, a tap on the back, a strong hug, a big smile or a kind word can make a person deprived of his/her human rights feel human again – even if it is just for a second; and that less than desirable situations should never extinguish our desire for a better tomorrow, for safety, for peace, for happiness, for justice.


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