Note from the NEJM Journal Watch staff — Ahmad Yousaf is currently on a trip to help care for refugees in Greece. He is sending daily updates to share his thoughts we will be posting them here daily.
Ahmad Yousaf, MD, is the 2015-16 Ambulatory Chief Resident in Internal Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
The discomforts of travel are real. Stress, related to the unknown: flight times, traffic to the airport, crying babies, ‘random’ security checks … Being alone, away from my wife and kid. It’s annoying. And uncomfortable. And a little sad.
Travel is frustrating … Even when you are the one who planned it. As I travel to Greece, I sit in the airplane thinking about the privilege of having those discomforts.
Greece is not the home of Syrian refugees either … but they didn’t plan the trip that got them there. Bombs and bullets booked their tickets. Flight times do not worry them; finding a safe place to live does. Traffic is not a concern; starvation and dirty water are. The sound of crying babies is not something they get annoyed by, it’s something they yearn for. The loneliness they feel is not as temporal as a planned itinerary, it has been made permanent. This is the reality of the Syrian refugees in Greece. Permanent travelers. Permanent strangers with seemingly permanently discomforts. Their homesickness is not like mine … Because I still have a home to return to.
I’m praying for the Syrian refugees. Praying for their homeland as it was and as it is now. It is the least I can do.
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