Today, on my way to treat myself to a frothy cappuchino (different from the ubiquitous and flat café con leche), I narrowly escaped talking to a canvasser. But then, as I headed back down the street distracted by the grocery list cycling through my head, he caught me. Ugh. Those conversations are so uncomfortable! To be confronted, with gentle directness and in English, by someone actually doing something to help refugees, when all I had on my mind was shopping? I promised him I would make a donation to the UN Refugee Agency, and I did.
I don’t know anything about the settlement of refugees in southern Spain. I do see black skinned men in the city center selling umbrellas, selfie sticks, and travel packs of Kleenex and, when they can’t get that desperate gig, holding a paper cup outside grocery stores. And I read that last week a group of 33 people from sub-Saharan Africa was rescued off the coast south of Granada. They were in a small boat and, fortunately (miraculously?), unhurt.
Because I’m in a place where I can barely speak the language, where I have to rely on the kindness of strangers to help me do things I take for granted at home, I have even greater empathy for people who have been forced by economic circumstances and security threats to leave their countries (and who, let’s assume, have almost no financial resources). And I’m glad that canvasser reminded me that actions, not feelings, are what will help them.