Forced From Home Exhibition
Immigration is on everyone’s mind right now. As with so many current issues, knowledge of how this global social problem impacts individuals is misunderstood or even unknown. Recently I had the opportunity to tour the national exhibition, Forced From Home, presented by Doctors Without Borders during its stop in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was graciously given a tour of the exhibition that included interactive activities designed to convey the challenges facing the more than 68.5 million people currently forced from their homes. I saw a re-creation of a refugee’s journey demonstrating the dangers, deprivations, and uncertainties faced by men, women, and children in the millions worldwide every day.
My tour guides were Courtney Ridgway, Erin Ching, and Dr. George Record. As we walked between exhibit stations, they shared the purpose of the Forced From Home exhibition and answered all my questions. An audio podcast can’t fully reveal how moving this program was, so I hope you’ll visit the show notes for photos from the program and more information.
DETAILS: The Forced From Home exhibition offers free, one-hour guided tours with experienced Doctors Without Borders aid workers. Visitors travel through an immersive exhibition featuring a virtual reality (VR) experience, a 360-degree video dome, and interactive activities designed to convey the challenges facing the more than 68.5 million people currently forced from their homes.
Listen to the podcast, read the transcript or drop in at the time stamps below:
Janet: [00:00] Immigration is on everyone’s mind right now, as with so many current issues, knowledge of how this global social problem impacts individuals is misunderstood or even unknown. Recently, I had the opportunity to tour the national exhibition, Forced From Home, presented by Doctors Without Borders during its stop in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was graciously given a tour of the exhibition that included interactive activities designed to convey the challenges facing the more than 68 and a half million people currently forced from their homes. I saw a recreation of a refugee’s journey demonstrating the dangers, deprivations, and uncertainties faced by men, women, and children in the millions worldwide every day. Our tour guides were Courtney Ridgeway, Erin Ching, and Dr George Record, all experienced Doctors Without Borders, volunteers from international crisis songs. As we walked between the exhibit stations, they shared the purpose of the Forced From Home exhibition and answered all my questions and audio podcast. Can’t fully reveal how moving this program was. So I hope you’ll visit the show notes for photos from the program and for more information and now Get Social Health.
Announcer: [01:25] Welcome to Get Social Health. A conversation about social media and how it’s being used to help hospitals, social practices, healthcare practitioners and patients connect and engage via social media, Get Social Health, brings you conversations with professionals actively working in the field and provides real-life examples of healthcare, social media in action. Here is your host, Janet Kennedy.
Janet: [01:52] As I mentioned in the introduction, I got a slightly different kind of podcast for you today. It’s a live interview that was taken on the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina at the Forced From Home exhibition sponsored by Doctors Without Borders. Our interviews today are going to be with Courtney Ridgeway, George Record, and Erin Ching. As I walked through the exhibit, really trying to bring some awareness to our community about what it’s like to be a refugee from your home. I hope you enjoy the interview.
Courtney: [02:28] I’m Courtney Ridgeway. I’m the media coordinator for Doctors Without Borders. What are you doing in Charlotte, North Carolina? We’re here with the free interactive exhibition on the global refugee crisis and we’re trying to raise awareness and educate people about the 68 point 5 million people who are displaced around the globe.
Erin: [02:43] My name is Erin Ching and I’m the external relations manager for Forced From Home.
Janet: [02:47] So you’ve been on the road for a little while and you’ve got a few more stops. Tell me a bit about this road tour.
Erin: [02:53] So we are actually in our third year of this tour. So the first year we were mainly on the east coast last year on the West. This year we’re focusing on the mid-central region. So we’ve been in Minneapolis, Chicago. We’re currently here in Charlotte. And then we’ll be going to Atlanta and San Antonio after this.
Janet: [03:09] And how long are you at each location?
Erin: [03:10] We’re in each location for one week only, so it will be open here in Charlotte, October seventh through 14th and then finishing in San Antonio, November fourth through 11th.
Janet: [03:20] Now obviously you’re listening to a podcast, which means you can’t visualize what I’m seeing here. However, I am going to take some pictures so that you can look at it, but do me a favor and just describe it for people. What is this experience really like?
Courtney: [03:32] It’s 10,000 square feet. It’s outdoor. We basically take you through a series of interactive activities. We have a 360-degree video dome that depicts scenes from refugee camps in migration routes. We have a replica boat from the Mediterranean that people use to try and escape northern Africa. We also have a little bit of a replica of a refugee camp as well as some of our medical facilities.
Janet: [03:55] Now I will say I found this exhibit because I was going to a conference in Charlotte with the Convention Center, which is down in the beautifully new rebuilt downtown area right next to the gorgeous NASCAR Hall of Fame. And I actually thought, Gee, what is that trashy setup? And that is because this is what people are really experiencing. This isn’t a beautiful interactive experience to try to build empathy, you’re going to walk through this and really feel what people feel. And as it happens, while I’ve been in Charlotte, it’s rained a few times and I think that actually adds to the appreciation and understanding for, for what’s happening here. So when it rains, does everybody scoot into the dry or what does it feel like here?
Speaker 4: [04:36] Yeah, well that was a very intentional thing when we built this exhibition was to have it outdoors. I, like you say, I think it’s empathy building. so when it does rain, we have umbrellas and ponchos for participants. The tour must go on.
Janet: [04:48] Now here’s something that we’re going to talk about in a little bit, but when I walked in there was the classic event Porta Johns and I thought, Hey, those look pretty nice, but my guess is that’s not what people are experiencing camps around the world.
Courtney: [05:01] No, you’re going to see a latrine here today that most people will share. I think maybe there might be one for every 40 people, even 400 people in some camps and you’re squatting. It’s not a very beautiful situation.
Janet: [05:14] Alright, check, check that visual. All right, we’re going to walk into the exhibit and then we’re going to look at a few things and talk again. Okay. So to experience this, we know that there are refugees from hundreds of countries around the world all going in different directions, ending up in different places. So much like the Titanic exhibit or the Holocaust Exhibit. I get to really experience through the eyes of someone, so I have been given a card and it says that I am from the Republic of Burundi. So what else does this tell me?
Courtney: [05:48] It’s telling you that you’re a refugee, which is the most important element of it. A refugee actually has more rights than an internally displaced person than a migrant and a stateless person. So being a refugee in this context, as horrible as it is, it means that you will have some protections.
Janet: [06:04] Now you could have in the same camp a refugee. And tell me the other two again?
Courtney: [06:09] An internally displaced person or an IDP. We also have migrants and then stateless people. So could all of those people end up in the same camp? Theoretically? Yes. So does that mean that I’m in the line for the good food and they’re over people over here who are what? Struggling to get a place over their head.
Erin: [06:28] We can look at that when we moved to the legal station portion, but I would like to focus on the five different countries that we feature in this exhibition. So you hear our refugee from Burundi, but we also have, Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Honduras because there are a refugee and displacement crisis is happening all over the world, and not just in one continent. So that’s something we really want to highlight by giving each participant and identity card and featuring these different contexts throughout the exhibition.
Janet: [06:58] All right, so trying to relate this to an experience, would we only be expecting a citizens of Honduras or would any of those countries theoretically ended up at the door of the US?
Erin: [07:11] Well, that’s. You used the word citizen, right? And so that’s one thing that we’re trying to raise awareness about is the different types of categories of the legal status of people. So not everybody even has citizenship. so we explore that in the legal section of our exhibition, where we talk about stateless people in certain countries, women don’t pass along their citizenship when they have children. So children actually born stateless without any rights of citizenship like you and I as citizens, which is something that a lot of s don’t realize.
Janet: [07:41] Because in America, part of some attitude is that people are coming here so they can have babies who can automatically be citizens. But you’re saying that’s not the case in other countries.
Courtney: [07:52] No, that’s, that’s not the case. And also, if we look at the top 10 countries that actually host refugees and asylum seekers, only one of those is a western country, which is Germany and that is very recent. Usually, when people are being displaced, they’re going and being hosted by countries that are closer to the crises that are already having weaker infrastructures to begin with. And we would see here in the US. So this narrative of like their people overflowing our borders is actually a false narrative.
Janet: [08:19] Alright, so the first station, we’re at a, you said, mentioned each of the countries and I’m looking at, some cards with some imagery on it. And you can again see the picture in the, on the blog post that goes with this. But what is this telling me we call this station push factors and we’re discussing the different reasons people leave home. So the ideas that people never leave home lately, they might leave home because of political strife, economic insecurity, more commonly we’re seeing people forced out due to war, violence and ethnic and religious tension. we’re all very familiar with what’s happening in Syria today and that is taking a lot of these different factors and putting them all into one small place. I’m driving hundreds of thousands of people out of the border. How do I experience?
Erin: [09:03] So your tour guide, who is an experienced Doctors Without Borders field worker will tell you a little bit about each context, discuss the push factors, and we’ll give you 30 seconds to choose just five items which you have to decide in 30 seconds. You know, what are you going to take? Which is supposed to put you in the mindset of being forced to flee from your home. Are you going to take your passport? Are you going to take your family photos? Are you going to take your family heirlooms? Or maybe you need your medication because that you have a chronic disease and you need your medication to treat that. Are you going to take your animals? Are you going to take your cell phones? You have to choose between all of these things like you would have to if you were being forced to flee.
Janet: [09:40] You mentioned a cell phone and folks who know me know I’m a social media lover so I can’t live without my phone and I carry three backup power because I do not want to run out of power for my phone. I’m not sure that there’s a whole lot of extra electrical when you’re jumping on a raft or going on a hundred mile hike through the woods. So is a cell phone a really essential tool?
Courtney: [10:03] That, that is a common misconception. A cell phone is actually one of the most useful items for people on the move. It helps you stay connected to family and friends to check if people are safe. It provides a map so that you know where you’re going. It helps you get in touch with someone who might be able to help you across the border and once you get into a refugee camp, it can even connect you for employment opportunities or to share money with family and friends.
Janet: [10:26] One of the things we’re looking at is a boat that might be a fun little get around boat on the lake credibly could take about eight people, but in this refugee situation, how many people are going to try and squeeze into this little boat?
Courtney: [10:38] We often see 30 people, 30 adult men even trying to squeeze onto a boat that safely. We’ll take eight people on a flat lake and these people are trying to go across the entire Mediterranean in rough water.
Janet: [10:50] And how long would that trip take?
Courtney: [10:52] It really depends. Most of them in a matter of eight hours we’ll capsize and drown if no one is there to save them. Otherwise, they could be stranded for days at a time hoping that someone will come across them.
Erin: [11:03] One issue that we see here is because the boat is so small, they try and pack so many people in. One of the medical issues that we see here is that when you have gasoline, petrol that mixes with seawater, it creates a skin corrosive. So we see and treat a lot of our patients who have burns on their skin. And if left untreated, that can become a problem.
Janet: [11:26] As you can imagine, not being at home can be very, very difficult if you really don’t know what your legal status is. So one of the things that this exhibition is talking about is the many different kinds of status that you might have and what kind of rights, if any, come with that. So share a little bit with me, Courtney, what, what are the legal statuses that are involved?
Courtney: [11:46] A refugee is a protected status that’s recognized internationally. It’s someone who has left their country and been accepted as someone who has a credible fear of persecution from violence, political affiliation, gender, etc. and they are in another country now. They are basically allowed to get aid from the UNHCR, which is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. And the united nations is overseeing their protection and they’re also eligible in some instances for resettlement in countries like the United States.
Janet: [12:19] Can you actually become a refugee before you leave your own country?
Courtney: [12:23] No, you can not. Many people who leave their countries can seek asylum. So that’s the next status. Asylum seeker is someone who’s left their country, arrived at another and is asking for that kind of protection. So an asylum seeker can become a refugee or they can be denied and become a kind of person in limbo.
Janet: [12:42] All right, so you’re in a war situation and you just have to get your family out. What? Where would that fall?
Courtney: [12:47] You’re going to be an asylum seeker in that instance, and it really just depends on the country that you land in. We’re seeing this happen at our own borders and in some instances, you’re turned away. People don’t feel that you have enough proof that you had a credible fear to leave home.
Janet: [13:02] What about proving who you are as a person?
Courtney: [13:05] That can be difficult to. If you have 30 seconds to take everything that you want to, you don’t always get to take your identification. Your identification might also not mean anything at the place that you land. Everyone has a passport here in the United States. So if you were to suddenly end up in Cuba or Mexico, someone could easily say, we don’t recognize this id driver’s license that you’re carrying.
Janet: [13:30] Okay? It looks like I’m in the kitchen or the bathroom or all in about six square feet of space. So where am I?
Erin: [13:37] Right? So this is what we call our basic needs set section of our exhibition. And right here we are trying to visualize for participants, you know, what a refugee camp setting might look like. So one thing about this exhibition is we really want to try and put s into the position of comparing, you know, our life Here versus what somebody forced to flee would face. So if you look here for your guests, maybe you can post a picture of this. If you look here, we have these Jerrycans here. so right here we have 90 gallons, which is the average consumption water consumption for an uses in one day here in just one day. Can we have two gallons of water, which is the who minimum threshold for one person for one consumption per day? So if you can see the visual comparison, it’s a lot, you know, think about when you flush the toilet here, how much clean water we use in one flush versus in a refugee camp if you’re only allowed two gallons of water per day, you have to use that for Cooking, for washing, for cleaning, if you have a baby as well, and not only do you have just so little water, but you have to carry that to the water point to where you’re living.
Erin: [14:42] So just again, trying to put people in the comparative experience of, look, this is what we have here and this is what somebody that is living in a refugee camp might face. so we talked earlier the latrine as well, so you can see this latrine here. What does that look like to you?
Janet: [14:55] My, my guess is that’s a ditch dug in the ground.
Erin: [14:59] Water and sanitation needs are one of the greatest needs in these situations just because you have large numbers of people living so closely together. and if you have a poor water situation or a war poor sanitation situation, you can have outbreaks of communicable diseases like cholera, that can spread very quickly. so it’s really important that when we’re in these settings responding, that we have adequate water and sanitation facilities.
Janet: [15:23] So where is the water coming from?
Erin: [15:26] That’s a great question. It depends on the setting that we’re in. Sometimes it comes from a lake far further away. sometimes it’s trucked in, and sometimes it’s treated so existing water that’s been treated by chlorine systems, or filtration systems. And we have. One of the things that people don’t realize about Doctors Without Borders is that we have a substantial number of our staff that are non-medical professionals as well. Some of those, like myself in the field, our logisticians, who exclusively work on the supply chain of drugs and the treatment of the water systems as well as electrical supply as well.
Janet: [16:04] Sanitation is just a really frightening thing. I’m not crazy about going into a porta-john. and they’re pretty fancy now, but what you just showed me was absolutely frightening. It’s literally a place for your feet and a ditch in the ground and you could have how many people in a refugee area?
Erin: [16:23] Well, it really depends on the size of the refugee camp. you know, we work in bend two in South Sudan that has many refugees and, but right now I’m actually in Bangladesh with the Rohingya that is fleeing. It has now become the largest refugee camp in the world, larger than even Dadaab in Kenya. so we’re seeing refugee camps with upwards of hundreds of thousands of people living together in one camp setting. That’s mind-boggling.
Janet: [16:50] One of the things that I feel very guilty about is the fact that my water pressure at home is a little weak. So I was in a hotel this morning and I really enjoyed my shower, however, I’ve come over here and now what we’re looking at is a series of plastic Jerrycans, what you might use to tote water. And so over here on the right-hand side, how big are these Jerrycans?
Erin: [17:11] Yeah. So here we have two comparisons. I’m the who minimum standard for one person per day is two gallons of water, which you can see is just not even up to the halfway mark of one jerrycan versus the consumption of one average per day, which is over 90 gallons. so when you think about two gallons a day and that’S for your washing, your cooking, your cleaning. and we really want people to experience the difference. You know, what we’re used to versus what somebody in this situation might be facing. And it’s dark.
George: [17:43] Hi, I’m George Record. I’ve been working as a general surgeon for Doctors Without Borders since 2006.
Janet: [17:52] How many places have you been around the world?
George: [17:54] Seven or eight. And what made you become a doctor without a border?
George: [18:00] Well, a lot of that is what may become a doctor ever since working in the peace corps is a young man, living in a foreign country, you can get a little bit under your blood and if you live in a low resource country, you realize how precious the basic medical needs that we take for granted are. So it was as soon as my kids grew up, I took advantage of the fact that I, I had some time and money to allow me to work for Doctors Without Borders.
Janet: [18:31] Oh, that’s amazing. Now, when you’ve gone to a foreign country and you’ve been in a situation are, are they all high energy crisis or is there’s kind of a business as usual feeling about around a refugee camp?
George: [18:56] It’s all over the map. Working in post-earthquake, Haiti is definitely a high energy crisis working in Sri Lanka where there’s a smoldering civil war and we’re waiting for the next shoe to drop. It’s not so high energy. It’s treading water and until something bad happens.
Janet: [19:05] So as a surgeon in an area like this, what is your day like?
George: [19:11] It varies highly, but generally I work in a hospital and my doctor friends and I, and we say it’s really not Doctors Without Borders is doctors out doctors because most of the organization is involved in actually setting up the hospital, which is a tour de force. Good. Good water, good sanitation. So when I come, what we’re looking at has already been set up and we’ll start off in the morning. One of us might make rounds and the other will go to the operating room and pretty much operate all day long. A lot of Verne’s, chronic wounds, gunshot wounds, machete wounds, crocodile hippopotamus bites, complicated obstetrics, open fractures, a highly diverse set of problems.
Janet: [19:54] Sounds like you’re running an emergency department. Does that mean that chronic illness and/or just run of the mill feeling bad sort of gets pushed to the side?
George: [20:04] It depends on the context. Most of the time as a general surgeon, we work in areas of armed conflict, areas of natural disaster and we are oftentimes unfortunately limited to taking care of emergencies and chronic diseases such as, for example, a longstanding or hernia, which we just don’t have the time and manpower to take care of.
Janet: [20:30] Now we talk a lot about Doctors Without Borders, but I know you’re not doing this without a nurses, medics, LPNs, so how big is the medical force and what do you usually put together as as a team of professionals?
George: [20:44] There is no one standard. We 300 bed hospitals which have a full compliment of general surgeons, orthopedists, nurses, recovery room nurses, lab technicians, x ray technicians down to a one surgeon on one nurse, small emergency facility. It’s very much context dependent.
Janet: [21:08] And obviously geography dependent, how accessible it is.
George: [21:12] That’s correct. As you’ve been in the peace corps many years ago and now back in the field.
Janet: [21:18] I’m gonna take a wild guess that things seem a lot worse now than probably when you were in the Peace Corps?
George: [21:25] Well, It was different, but, the world has changed a lot.
Janet: [21:29] What keeps you motivated to keep facing these difficult situations?
George: [21:35] That’s an easy one to answer. The patients. The endurance of our patients is a prime motivator. I’ll tell you a story that’s always moved me. Our former president, James Urbanski was working during the Rwandan genocide. He was taking care of a woman with a huge chest wound and he just couldn’t stand it anymore and he started crying. And this woman looked at him and said, “Courage, Courage, Doctor.” And so it’s our patients that inspire us and, I’m inspired by the people I work alongside of. It’s really, a very dedicated, energetic workforce and we feed off each other’s energy and commitment.
Janet: [22:23] You’ve been boots on the ground for a long time and now you’re talking to citizens who in many respects don’t have a very good understanding of what anyone’s experiences. Like. What do you tell people? How do you try to convey the seriousness of what’s happening elsewhere and why we should care?
George: [22:42] The same way I’m talking to you. Your perspective just depends on where you’re living and I’ve, I’ve, since getting back from the Peace Corps, we all have stories of the disconnect we feel. I remember, as a 22-year-old getting, getting home from two years in Nepal and my best friend’s mother, all she could talk about was what an amazing plane trip that must have been – 22 hours on the plane! That’s just amazing. But people, if you don’t have some common knowledge, common experience, you connect with whomever you can. Questions like those are asked with the best of intentions.
Janet: [23:22] Well, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, Doctor.
Janet: [23:27] One of the things that we’re looking at here is really a, a pictograph of what I assume are some kind of symptoms for something, but what am I looking at?
Erin: [23:35] So you asked earlier about what our teams in the field are composed of m and a lot of our projects, we use health promotion teams to actually convey information, projects, symptoms, et cetera to the populations and people that we’re working with. So what you’re looking at here is a health promotion board from one of our projects in Tanzania.
Janet: [23:55] All right. I can figure out the top. I don’t know what’s happening here in, in picture number five,.
Erin: [24:02] What we’re trying to explain to people is the disease themselves and the symptoms that they might experience in many populations that we’re working in. people may not know how to read. so we have to convey that information through pictures, which is what you’re seeing here. So here you can see a mosquito here and somebody’s sleeping, and then you see somebody that is now throwing up who has diarrhea, who might not feel well. Shivers, fever, aching pains, denying of wanting food, lack of hunger. and then you should see a series of these people who have experienced these symptoms come into our health center. So we’re trying to explain that. If you experience these symptoms, you can come and seek treatment at our health center.
Janet: [24:45] Excellent. What kind of issues are people bringing into a refugee camp and what kind of issues medically speaking, do you worry about once you have a lot of people in a tight situation?
George: [24:58] Prime one is measles. Measles killed 100,000 children a year and a malnourished anemic refugee. Children are particularly susceptible to measles. The refugee population has very rarely been vaccinated in their childhood. As soon as we see one case of measles in a congested area, we will begin a mass measles vaccination program, and once again, our logisticians, that is one of their real expertise is, is bringing in temperature-sensitive vaccines from a long ways away and what’s called a cold chain such that critical temperature roughly between 35 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit is never exceeded and this team can vaccinate as many as a thousand children a day.
Janet: [25:48] I assume it must be something like malaria, but there are probably other common diseases that you have to deal with?
George: [25:55] Malaria is probably number two. We have something called point of care testing for malaria. There’s a ninety-cent device where with a drop of blood, very similar to analyzing someone’s blood sugar with a drop of blood, we can tell if they’re infected with, falciparum malaria or not. It takes 15 minutes and that way we can accurately diagnose someone with symptoms like headache, chills, and vomiting and give them appropriate treatment.
Janet: [26:25] Even though you’re giving care and you have medical stations set up, the chance of something turning into an epidemic must be a daily issue you deal with.
George: [26:36] For me as a surgeon, no, it’s not a daily issue, but that’s, I mean that’s the big picture and that’s the big worry. I have a friend who has worked for a long time with Doctors Without Borders all over the world. He’s, he’s been in hospitals in Pakistan where he’s been bombed on an almost daily basis. And he told me that the scariest thing in his career was last April in Bangladesh in the Rohingya refugee camp where the first couple of cases of whooping cough or dip theory or were diagnosed and he was scared stiff there’d be a devastating outbreak of that. Thank God it was averted.
Janet: [27:18] Well, let me ask you a question about cultural differences. You’re bringing western medicine, western attitudes, western knowledge to a lot of different cultural environments. Do you ever have difficulty explaining the importance of some of the issues that you’re dealing with?
Erin: [27:34] Yes, yes. so that’s why we have health promotion teams like I spoke of earlier, to kind of emphasize why different health practices are important in terms of preventing malaria or preventing cholera. So the second health promotion board we have here talks about how to prevent these outbreaks from happening or how to protect yourself against even contracting malaria in the first place. So health promotion teams play an integral role in these refugee camps settings to translate the knowledge into something that is understandable locally.
Courtney: [28:05] We also employ 90 percent, national staff, meaning that while we think of Doctors Without Borders is being ex-pats here from the United States, going abroad and bringing a western perspective, the large majority of our staff is actually people that are born and raised in that country. And that helps us also learn from them what, what ways we can overcome different cultural differences and make sure that we’re being really sensitive to people’s differences and also helping kind of mesh those two worlds to give them the best care possible.
Janet: [28:35] So think about the worst camping trip you’ve ever been on and that is probably luxury incarnate compared to some of the samples of the tenting situations that we see here. And when I say tent, it’s really a loosely designed series of tarps, kind of like stacked on top of frames of all different sorts. There are some tents, there are some more sophisticated things, but for the most part it looks like you’re just barely keeping ahead of rain and drips. And definitely the thing I hate about camping more than anything else, I just hate my feet being wet. I hate the floor being muddy. Just can’t stand it. I would not be very good in this environment.
Courtney: [29:18] Yeah. So what you’re seeing here are some different structures. These are examples from three specific locations, including Somalia, Iraq, and Bosnia. The sad reality is that these are conditions that people will live in for up to 10 and 20 years even they might raise five children in a tent that would normally sleep one to two Americans in the woods for a weekend and you have to obviously get really crafty people are often cooking and educating their children in these tents. They might be raising teenage boys. I’m next to a family of, you know, young women and there’s a lot of different issues that can arise in these settings so people have to get really creative with how they approach their lives.
Janet: [30:01] So we’re at the last station of the Forced From Home exhibition that’s touring the United States right now, and it’s called Seeking Safety. So tell me a little bit about what this is all about.
Erin: [30:11] We’re at the final destinations portion, which is the last part of the exhibition, which is called Forced From Home. I’m in. What we really want to emphasize here is that when refugees and people who are seeking safety in depth in their country where they have arrived, it’s often times not the end of their journey, right? The experiences that they faced along the way are very traumatic and these traumas can last for years to come. So if you look at this map here, it shows the top 10 countries of origin and the top 10 countries of arrivals. So if you look at the top 10 countries of arrival, it’s Turkey, Pakistan, Uganda, Lebanon, Iran, Germany, Bangladesh, Sudan and Ethiopia and Jordan. These countries, first of all, the only western country is Germany. If you have a population, for example, in Lebanon, a population of three point five to 4 million, they’ve taken in over a million refugees. This narrative of people flooding our borders here in the us is really not the case. When people are fleeing these situations, they’re often fleeing into countries that are close and neighboring to the conflicts themselves. For example, Afghanistan into Iran and Pakistan, Iran, Iran has taken almost a million refugees. Pakistan is taken one point 4 million refugees and when you compare that to here in the us, which we’re on track to receive under 30,000 refugees this year, you know, the number is really stark.
Janet: [31:31] So this has been a very moving experience for me. Very eye-opening. I am amazed. I am appalled. I am hopeful, but I am also frightened for the millions of people who just don’t have alternatives that are humane. I wonder as this exhibit has toured the United States and you have a few more to go to. What exactly do you want people to think or do when they’re done with their experience here?
Erin: [31:58] What I hope that people realize is that most people don’t leave their homes willingly. Most people don’t choose to leave their homes. And the reason they’re leaving is because they’re fleeing violence. They’re fleeing persecution, they’re fleeing war. And really we want people to understand that these people who are fleeing their seeking safety in seeking safety isn’t a crime, shouldn’t be a crime. Seeking safety is not a crime. So I hope that people understand that when they go through this exhibition and get involved as part of the last exhibition station, it’s called take action. So we do highlight several organizations that work here locally to support refugee resettlement and integration into the community and encourage people to involved that way. But mostly I hope that people just understand and empathize, and recognize that seeking safety is not a crime.
Janet: [32:46] Well, I couldn’t have said it better myself and that’s obviously why you all are doing this amazing tour. So again, you probably will have missed it by the time you hear this, your next two locations that you’re going or where?
Erin: [32:59] Atlanta and San Antonio.
Janet: [33:01] All right, so you’re very lucky. Atlanta and San Antonio, you are going to experience something really amazing. However, have no fear. I will put at the end of the blog post for this podcast, a lot of information about how to find them in social media, what the websites are that you go to and how you can become a part of standing with rescue.
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Music Attribution-Lee Rosevere: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/