Voices: What refugees need most this winter is kindness

·2-min read
Families displaced by crises in countries such as Afghanistan and Syria will face yet another season of suffering  (AFP via Getty)
Families displaced by crises in countries such as Afghanistan and Syria will face yet another season of suffering (AFP via Getty)

“He’s my kind of guy. She’s my kind of woman,” or “Thank you, that’s so kind.” Kind is a word that’s kind of thrown about. But think about what it really means and where it comes from: kin. It’s about seeing people as our people. Our kin. And treating them as we would treat someone close to us.

This winter, I am asking everyone to see beyond just their immediate family, or circle, or town, or country, and extend kindness to someone they don’t – and may never – know. Someone forced to flee war and persecution. Someone seeking refuge.

Refugees aren’t some other kind of people. They’re our kind. Our kin. They’re actors, doctors, builders, parents, children, grandparents. People who had to abandon their normal lives. People just like us.

Families displaced by crises in countries such as Afghanistan and Syria will face yet another season of the unkindest of circumstances. Separated from many of their friends and family, they live in the very harshest of conditions: freezing snow, floods and bitter winds.

This is another hardship on top of those they’ve already had to face, for years in many cases. Older men and women struggle to keep their grandchildren warm. Grandchildren like nine-year-old Nagham who, despite having seen war and suffering, has one bigger fear: the cold.

Mevan Babakar, who fled Iraq with her parents as a child before settling in London, said earlier this year: “A refugee is holding on to the idea that even in the darkest of times there will always be shining acts of kindness.”

That is what is needed most this winter. In the darkest of times, simple basics like a warm jumper, a blanket, fuel for cooking, or a sheet to insulate a tent can amount to a shining act of kindness.

Five UK artists have helped amplify the voices of refugees and what acts of kindness mean to them, with wrapping paper that shows what it means to be wrapped in kindness.

This winter will be hard for many people, up and down the UK, for many reasons. But if you are lucky enough to be wrapped up warm with your loved ones and wrapping gifts for them, please consider extending a shining act of kindness to someone you don’t know, who really needs one. The kindness of strangers will mean everything to them.

David Morrissey is a British actor and a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees goodwill ambassador

Download the wrapping paper designs or donate to support #WrappedInKindness

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting