Sinan sessions - Part 3: Dignity, is more important than Oxygen for people in the Middle-East


In the third of three sessions, documentary maker and journalist Sinan Can talks to us about change-making and the refugee crisis.

With thousands of people still arriving each year to Europe in unsafe and vulnerable conditions – what role do organisations like Movement On The Ground play in terms of the future of the refugee crisis? How important is our work in the context of the situation on the Greek islands? Whose responsiblity is it to deal with the crisis? 

Making the world a better place 

For Sinan Can there is a clear moral call-to action for us all, grounded in our responsibility towards one another as human beings. “The refugee crisis, started with conflicts. But conflicts are nothing new in the Middle-East” says Sinan. Accepting the possibility that the refugee problem may be something we will always have to deal with, we should work together – people and countries – to share the responsibility, helping one another in places we can. “The most important thing you do as an individual, is to try to make the world a better place,” he adds. “Of course, you can't solve every problem. But you try to contribute.” 

“Making the world a better place” as a motto, has guided Sinan's own way of working throughout his career making documentaries. “Every time I film, I try to leave a small footprint. Two years ago, we started raising money for clothes for orphans in Kabul where we were filming. What we raised was small, I think 3,000 euros. We can all make some difference to help. It doesn't have to be big” he says.

The refugee crisis 

When it comes to the refugee crisis, Sinan argues, the most important thing we can do is to ensure the basic rights of people arriving to new countries. “What Movement does, is to take refugees serious as people and see them as equal as us. That difference they make, is a big difference,” Sinan says – for practical as well as moral reasons.

Sinan has seen people making the journey to Europe in Macedonia, Turkey and Greece. He's been at the heart of the conflict in Syria and Iraq and has seen people displaced from their homes and how they then settle in new communities. Ensuring new arrivals are given basic rights, is more than just about dealing with the refugee crisis now, it foresees more harmonious integration between communities in the future.

“Dignity – sounds a little bit crazy, is more important than oxygen for people in the Middle East.” says Sinan. “Let me say you give them humanity back, dignity back and then they move to another country, I think they will take that with them. Sometimes with the small things, you do something for the bigger picture.”

Sinan has seen this for himself, while making the documentary the Class of Elias. “Elias's father, also came from a Greek island, from Limnos. The village people were very kind and helpful to them. When he speaks about he gets emotional because of the humanity and dignity – he has now taken that with him to Holland and with that motivation is building a new life.”

Making the difference on Lesvos, with things as simple as making the camp a bit better for the environment, giving people hope, helping children – are ways in which Movement are succeeding in making positive change, in terms of the refugee crisis on the Greek islands. 

We know our work is far from over – that’s why our vision is about providing long term, sustainable solutions, so that we can ensure the dignity and well-being of those who arrive tomorrow, as well as today. 

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