The Washington Post summed up Aylan’s plight:
“…As refugees from the Islamic State and other turbulent parts of the world besiege Eurostar trains, crowd the French port of Calais, and die on the shores of Libya or in trucks in Austria, it’s clear that Aylan is just one of countless many[i].”
The tragedy of losing this little boy is the stark result of political upheaval, war and suffering in our neighbouring countries. These are ordinary people, like us, who have left behind families, jobs and homes they loved, due to dreadful circumstances way beyond their control. However, in trying to flee their nations, they risk losing their lives. In Syria, the crisis has reached monumental proportions – the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre states that half of the country’s 22 million population is either displaced within its borders or has fled overseas[ii].
European heads of government face the immediate and seemingly insurmountable task of accommodating thousands of desperate people arriving daily on flimsy dinghies at Greek shores. However, because communication lines are broken, it’s easy to forget that there are millions more displaced in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan. Here, communities are torn apart by war, persecution and unimaginable misery and having fled their homes, still remain in their home countries.
The International Rescue Committee depicted the experience of displacement by documenting refugees’ possessions in photos as they arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos. One 17 year-old Afghan boy simply had a change of clothes (shorts, a t-shirt and lightweight trainers), a small amount of Turkish Lira, SIM cards, a comb, bandages and, shamefully, face whitening cream and hair gel. He thought that by whitening his skin and spiking up his hair, the authorities wouldn’t know he’s a refugee and therefore, he wouldn’t be arrested[iii].
Can any of us really appreciate what it is like to be driven from home in a matter of hours, to then have your last remaining valuables stolen at checkpoints before another fifty-mile trek to relative safety? This is a typical experience relayed to Cardinal Vincent Nichols (Archbishop of Westminster) when he met displaced Christians living in makeshift camps in Erbil, Iraq, seeking refuge from ISIS violence. He is at pains to emphasise that it is crucial for these people in order to preserve their dignity by giving them a home, however makeshift and temporary it may be[iv].
Thankfully, this fate is extremely unlikely to beset those of us living in Europe, which is why we are in a position to help. Whilst David Cameron, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin thrash out the political complexities within war-torn countries, the average person reflects, shelving the minutiae of day-to-day life to consider how their actions can make a difference.
Cardinal Nichols touched upon a very human element intrinsic to each and every one of the millions of displaced and resettling people around the world – the preservation of dignity is not only humane, it’s imperative. So, it follows that all of the items supplied to those in need have enormous value, however big and however small. In stable countries, everyday items including toiletries and oral health adjuncts are just taken for granted. But, what would it be like if we had no means to access those products for ourselves, if we no longer had the freedom to cater for the daily routines to which we’re accustomed?
The Humble Smile Foundation and Humble Brush teams are dedicated to providing eco friendly, sustainable, efficient toothbrushes wherever peoples’ needs are the greatest. There can be no argument that the displaced, in many cases only possessing the clothes on their backs, have needs that reach far beyond the imagination. In support of the work the charity Assyrians Without Borders undertakes, aiming to assess the mental health, understand the trauma and address health conditions for refugees both in Northern Iraq, Syria and Turkey, the Humble Smile Foundation has donated over 100,000 toothbrushes. Of course, oral care is just one example of the unending building blocks involved in establishing some semblance of normality.
The non-profit Humble Smile Foundation gives a toothbrush or equivalent oral care to an underprivileged child for every sale of a Humble Brush, made from biodegradable natural bamboo. It’s well documented that taking care of our teeth and gums assists in our general wellbeing. Whether the recipients of these brushes are living in basic refugee camps or in remote parts of our world with no access to dental assistance, nurturing their teeth is a good place to start with bettering their lives.
To order please contact the exclusive distributor Quintess Denta www.quintesshumblebrush.co.uk
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[i] The Washington Post. Aylan’s Story: How Desperation Left A 3 Year-Old Boy Washed Up On A Turkish Beach by Justin Wm. Moyer, September 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/09/03/a-desperate-refugee-family-a-capsized-boat-and-3-year-old-dead-on-a-beach-in-turkey/ (Accessed 29/9/2015)
[ii] http://www.internal-displacement.org/middle-east-and-north-africa/syria/ (accessed 30/9/2015)
[iii] Fast Company Magazine. What’s In A Refugee’s Bag? See What People Carry As They Flee: Heartbreaking Photos Of The Things People Take When They Have Nothing Left. http://www.fastcoexist.com/3050993/whats-in-a-refugees-bag-see-what-people-carry-as-they-flee#3 (Accessed 30/9/2015)
[iv] ITV report – Cardinal Nichols: Erbil’s Displaced Refugees ‘Need Our Help’, April 2015. http://www.itv.com/news/2015-04-12/cardinal-nichols-calls-for-more-to-be-done-to-help-erbils-displaced-refuge (Accessed 29/9/2015)