Season’s greetings. Let’s ‘share the journey’ in 2018

“How do we respond? Do we open our hearts, our eyes and our homes? Or do we give in to fear and lock our doors and our borders?” In his Season’s greetings, Cordaid CEO Kees Zevenbergen, calls for solidarity with migrants and refugees.

“Celebrating Christmas in fragile and conflict-affected countries, is rather different than celebrating it in the calm and security of The Hague, Cordaid’s base in the Netherlands.

Kees Zevenbergen, embracing the Share the Journey campaign in September 2017.

In Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, in Iraq, Syria and South Sudan, and in many other places, people are being persecuted. They try to escape war and violence, or natural disasters. They have lost their belongings. Many have lost loved ones. They seek refuge and protection, shelter, food and jobs.

Their stories remind us how Jesus, Mary and Joseph were forced to flee for emperor Herod’s army and to seek safer grounds in Egypt, some 2000 years ago.

Today, over 65 million people are on the run. They too are excluded and vulnerable.

Countering the ‘globalization of indifference’

How do we respond? Do we open our hearts, our eyes and our homes? Do we respond with care, acceptance and love to our fellow brothers and sisters? Or do we give in to fear and lock our doors, our borders, our hearts?

May 2018 bring us one step closer to a world where the basics of a life in dignity are available to all.

Last September, Pope Francis launched the 2-year Caritas campaign called Share the Journey. This campaign aims to promote a culture of encounter, of generosity. It counters what the Pope calls ‘the globalization of indifference’. It urges us to override fear and mistrust.

Pope Francis calls on all of us to show solidarity with migrants and refugees. To build more welcoming communities and more just societies. He suggests that our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.

It is in a spirit of solidarity and of ‘sharing the journey’, that I wish all the communities we work with and for, our partners and our supporters, a Merry Christmas.

These four verbs are relevant to Cordaid’s work with refugees, internally displaced persons and local communities in countries like South Sudan, DR Congo, the Central African Republic, Iraq and Afghanistan. We provide shelter, food and healthcare. We offer means to improve livelihoods and work towards safer and more secure environments. We create income opportunities for refugees as well as the communities which welcome them.

It would be great if these four verbs – to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate – would also become guiding principles of EU and  Dutch policies on migration.

It is in a spirit of solidarity and of ‘sharing the journey’, that I wish all the communities we work with and for, as well as our partners and our supporters, a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. May 2018 bring us one step closer to a world where the basics of a life in dignity are available to all.”

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