Friday, September 4, 2015

Hiatus Apology, and Refugees

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

A month before we moved to Greece, I was hit with a kidney stone and ended up in the ER for a morning. Since then, I've been dealing with recurring attacks of renal colic, probably from new stones. We've been trying to figure out the cause, but it's put a damper on a lot of our adventures, not to mention our blogging. I was hit with another episode this week, and was so bad yesterday, I almost went to the hospital to get the good drugs. Phil was able to talk to the Med Clinic at his work, and figure out a combination of Naproxen and Acetaminophen that dulled the pain enough to be tolerable. I'm doing better today.

We might be tempting fate, but we're leaving in a few hours for a weekend trip to an island. The trip was organized a few months ago, and we've already paid. Best case scenario, we'll be able to show you pictures from kayaking and snorkeling and beaching. Worst case scenario is, I guess, both of us dying. But, if that happened, neither of us would have to worry about kidney stones again.

Bella will be staying behind with a dog sitter.
She's really torn up about it.

The island we're going to is on the west side of Greece. Hopefully you've heard about what's been happening on the islands to the east. Lots and lots of refugees have been arriving in Europe this summer. A big chunk of people are from Syria, though there are people coming from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa, too. They travel from Turkey across the Mediterranean to Greece and Italy, and then upwards toward Hungary, with a goal of landing in Germany, and other economically strong countries.

I have opinions about the crisis, and about the international response, but I don't know enough to go on a rant without sounding stupid. There are two things I do know, that I want to make sure you know. The first comes from this article describing how the crisis has been reported by the media. This New York Times article is a short, interesting piece about the difference between a "migrant" and a "refugee." While you should definitely read it for yourself, the main takeaway is that refugees must be afforded assistance under legal conventions, while migrants don't get the same protections. Many leaders and media outlets are referring to this as an influx of "migrants," rather than "refugees," even though it's clear that most of the people who are coming are refugees. Public opinion has changed a bit in the past week, with the picture of the dead baby on the beach (that I will not include here), but in a lot of ways it's still being looked at as a nuisance rather than a humanitarian crisis.

The second thing I want to tell you is that there are concrete things you can do to help refugees, even if you're not on the ground in Europe. If you're horrified by what you've seen on the news, take a minute to look up organizations that provide direct services to refugees in your community. There are plenty of ways you can get involved, especially in the United States. The US is the world's top resettlement country. There are resettlement agencies in most large metropolitan areas in the States. Here's a list of the bigger organizations. 

We'll keep you posted on everything that's happening, both renal-y and regionally, hopefully without too many more gaps in coverage.

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