They Could Easily Become My Friends
… we were interacting with the refugees on a one-to-one basis
Written by Twila Bird
Photography by Christophe Mortier
Avery, an American student at the American School of Paris, joined the school service club Compassion Without Borders and has spent the last two years focused on humanitarian service as well as her studies.
My favorite activity was when we filled bags with personal toiletries and handed them out to people on the street. I think it’s because we were interacting with the refugees on a one-to-one basis. I was interested to see how individuals lived in these stressful conditions. It certainly made me feel grateful for what I have on an everyday basis. I don’t have to think about having enough food to eat or clothes to wear, but these people have to think about those things every day. It made me more aware of others and what their needs might be. Instead of being faceless refugees, they became people who could easily become my friends.
Our team members obtain informed consent from each individual before an interview takes place. Individuals dictate where their stories may be shared and what personal information they wish to keep private. In situations where the individual is at risk and/or wishes to remain anonymous, alias names are used and other identifying information is removed from interviews immediately after they are received by TSOS. We have also committed not to use refugee images or stories for fundraising purposes without explicit permission. Our top priority is to protect and honor the wishes of our interview subjects.