While the coffe gets cold

RealStar’s volunteer Ida Kjellberg Stjernström writes about her experiences from a refugeecamp in Lebanon. 

”It was night and dark outside. We walked through the mountains with smugglers. We had no food and no water. Many of my friends did not survive. I was afraid”

My friend told me this when I asked him how he came to Sweden. I choose not to write his name.

I pour a cup of coffee. I sit down and start thinking what I want to write about, but I realize that the subject was given to me. I will talk about something that one usually forgets when one discusses human trafficking. A subject that you can’t miss.

For many years people have been forced to leave their countries, their families and their whole life to escape a life they didn´t choose. It´s people like you and me.

Why do I want to write about the refugee crisis here? What does it have to do with human trafficking? Human trafficking is, for example, when you transport people to other places and you exploit another person’s vulnerable situation. Imagine that a war breaks out where you live. Everything that you own disappears and you have nothing left. You are desperate and weak.

This is when the smugglers come in the picture. In this case, smugglers who transport people to other countries. Smugglers who earns tons of money from it. This could be seen as something good as the people often end up in a better place. But that’s not the case for everybody.

I didn´t realise this before. My brain had not linked the refugee crisis to human trafficking. Many of these refugees desperate situation will be mistreated and many of them will also be sexually abused.

A couple of months ago I decided that I wanted to learn more about this situation. I decided to go down to Lebanon. One of  the largest refugee camps is in Lebanon. Lebanon used to have around four million inhabitants, but in a few years it has grown up to six millions. These two million are political refugees.

When in Lebanon I realized that there were many people, mostly children, that didn´t live inside the camps. They were street children. Children that are sold by their own families or smugglers. Children that are put into forced labour and sexually exploited. Their eyes were so shiny and dark that I couldn´t look into them.

I couldn´t understand this. I started to ask questions. I asked if there was a project or organisation that helped them.

These answers were hard to get and nothing I wanted to hear- ”it´s too dangerous”. My thoughts started to confuse me and my reaction was that if it´s dangerous it’s a problem that needs to be solved.

I just wanted to hug them, tell them how valuable they are and give them love. I started to do that and now when I´m writing I still want to do it, but I realized that there is a hard boundary between how much I, as an individual, can actually accomplish.

If I started to help them with short term things such as food and clothes I would suddenly contribute to the crime that the children already are exposed to. I would show their parents and their pimps and traffickers that they can earn good money by putting them on the street.

I still have a difficult time accepting this hard boundary and I still think about how one can help these unprotected individuals. But it´s hard. This is why this forum is a good place to spread this message and knowledge of what’s really going on in this world.

You can´t click you fingers and expect all the bad things to just go away, but through informing we will increase the chances that these children will have a bright future and discover what you and me might have discovered and that´s fair sex.