Summer is a time when many people take the chance to explore new, different places. They go beyond the border of their countries, and explore a different architecture, landscape and language. Life can dramatically change during a summer vacation, because the world is definitely not flat and there are a lot of challenges outside the home and routine activities. Sometimes famous people visit the “other side” – places which face extreme conditions, and the impact is that big on them that they commit to a cause, as Javier Bardem did after visiting refugee camps in Western Sahara. The Oscar winning actor now supports Todos con el Sahara.
Blogger Viento del Sur writes about the actor's solidarity with Sahrawi people. He says Bardem declared when visiting the refugee camps:
La situación empeora año tras año. El proceso de paz está bloqueado y eso afecta especialmente a los más débiles. Mujeres, niños y ancianos", señaló Bardem, recordando que hay 200.000 personas que fueron españolas "abandonadas en el desierto desde hace 33 años
The situation worsens year after year. The peace process is blocked and this especially affects the most vulnerable people – women, children and the elderly, said Bardem, reminding us that there are 200,000 people who were once from Spain and have since been abandoned in the desert 33 years ago
Indeed famous names attract attention to a cause. Artists such as Manu Chao, the writer Eduardo Galeano and other famous people have visited the refugee camps in the past, and committed to the cause, as Caminando en el desierto says:
Si estos compromisos públicos sirven para avanzar, aunque sólo sea un paso -que sirven, sin ninguna duda- bienvenidos sean. Y aunque me gustaría que los verdaderos progresos se lograsen con la suma de los pasos individuales de quienes somos simples ciudadanos, debemos reconocer el mérito indudable que tienen estos apoyos.
If such public statements are helping to advance the cause a little – they undoubtedly do- such comments are welcome. And even when I would like for real progress as a result of the sum of individual efforts of average citizens, we must truly recognize the merits of this support.
And in Spain many families host Sahrawi children to spend the summer in their homes, and share a different culture in a safer environment, (you can see for example, Sahrawi chilren in Cordoba ) but in September summer is over, and it is time to say goodbye to their host families as Amigos del Sahara says:
os niños saharauis han acabado sus vacaciones en extremadura y han vuelto a Tindouf.
Sahrawi children have ended their vacation in Extremadura and are back in Tindouf.
Two lovely initiatives capture the attention of many people on the Web. Pencils for Peace (Lápices para la Paz) supports children facing armed conflicts by providing them with pencils and education materials and they discover a nice story in a recycled can:
Y aquí mismo, a pesar de la situación de exilio permanente, están ellos, con sed de aprendizaje, sonriendo y siendo felices a pesar de todo. A pesar de que el suelo de la escuela no es uniforme y alguna mesa esté coja..,de que la pintura de las paredes se caiga por la tremenda erosión de este lugar…, ellos siguen pintando con sus ceras maravillosas, la palabra libertad.
En un rincón del aula veo un bote.
Es una lata de leche en polvo. Y de él salen unos bonitos brotes verdes. Pregunto qué es y los niños entusiasmados me dicen: – ¡¡Son lentejas, son lentejas!!.
El profesor sonríe: – "Es una forma de que ellos sepan que el mundo no es sólo desierto y un lugar donde apenas existen las plantas. Día a día todos los niños vigilan los brotes para que nunca les falte el agua. Siempre hay que tener presente la esperanza…"
And here, in spite of the permanent exile, they are hungry to learn, while smiling and being happy despite everything – despite the fact that the floor of the school is not even and some tables are not balanced … the paint on the walls is fading due to the tremendous erosion… they are still painting the word freedom with their wonderful crayons.
In a corner of the classroom I see a can.
It is a can of milk powder. And from it, beautiful green sticks with leaves are growing. I asked what it is, the children excitedly told me: They are lentils, lentils!!!!
The professor smiles: – "It's a way to let them know that the world is not just desert and a place where there are hardly any plants. Day after day the children have to take care of the plants so it will never lack water. One must always have hope … "
And the other initiative is Refugees Exhibition, which was hosted by volunteer Bars in Spain during the summer to collect funds and help Sahrawis.
During the summer some children have discovered Spain and shared life with their host families, others stayed behind in the refugee camps and were lucky enough to see Javier Bardem outside the big screen. These are baby steps to help them have a normal childhood in the middle of an armed conflict. And now they are back to school in the refugee camps, using their new pencils and learning about a whole world of words.