Image by P. Wiggers via UNHCR     

Image by P. Wiggers via UNHCR



“Welcome to the country which has no flags and does not appear in maps, a country where tourists do not arrive. You do not need a passport or a visa to live there; you only need to have lost it all.”

This is the introduction of a documentary presented by UNHCR Spain in collaboration with director Fernando León de Aranoa and actress Elena Anaya. It is a window into the way of life within Ethiopian refugee camps, where thousands of Sudanese and Somalie refugees are sheltered.

As the trailer for the above documentary ends, a little girl voices to the audience "WELCOME TO MY COUNTRY". An imaginary country of over 45 million and increasing in numbers.

A country of mothers, children, fathers, brothers; separated from some of those whom they love, due to the need to flee from a highly dangerous situation. They find themselves in need of food, shelter and a way to communicate with those who were left behind.

Looking at the conditions of life and the stories behind each person, there are different possible reactions from someone who watches from afar.

One could be moved to pity and helplessly carry on, or one could identify their suffering with our own; allowing us to reach a level of compassion.

As I watched other stories from refugee camps around the world, I found images of people with similar living arrangements. Beautiful mothers holding their children, families playing together within their small shelter, children smiling as they held books or backpacks which would help them go to school (none of which would be possible, without the generosity of many).

Through each one of these images, I found myself and each one of you.

While we are all living different realities; based on individual circumstances, we do not live so distant from theirs, since we have all experienced suffering to some degree. Each mother knows the pain of seeing a little one cry, and a parent knows the pain of not being able to provide.

Each one of us knows; that despite of circumstances, there is always an opportunity to forge ahead, to grow and give to others.

Everyone can learn to experience true compassion; which does not seek pity as much as it seeks understanding. 

The documentary directed by Aranoa on Ethiopian camps showcases the great ongoing needs of refugees. Other camps have already created small businesses and commerce; such as the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, with a market avenue nicknamed Champs-Élysées , or the beauty salon in Uganda, which brings confidence and hope to Congolese refugee women.

Each one of us can be deeply compassionate and take action.

If you are in a position to help; move forward, if you are in a position to pray; do it. Each of us is in a position to act; no matter how small, there is always something that can be done. Even when there is not much to change, love and compassion are the great transforming virtues that allow us to live a beautiful life filled with dignity.


01. Do I feel the need to help, but pass on the opportunity thinking that someone else will do it in my place?

02. Do I realize that each one of us is called to be generous and take action?

03. Do I identify with the human pain of strangers in hard situations as I would with my close friends + family?


There is always a need for all refugees and at the moment there is a great immediate one for Syrian ones.

You may visit the following agencies for information on how to help:

UN Refugee Agency

(Syria Emergency)

World Vision

(3 facts you should know about the Syrian Refugee Crisis)

Refugees International