City Beach resident learns first hand about Syria

Smoke rises as Syrian opponents attack Assad Regime's positions in Jobar district of Damascus, Syria. Picture: Ammar Al Bushy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Smoke rises as Syrian opponents attack Assad Regime's positions in Jobar district of Damascus, Syria. Picture: Ammar Al Bushy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

FOR Gabi Nind, writing about the refugee situation in Syria just did not feel right without knowing about it properly.

Graduating from Notre Dame University recently with a degree in arts majoring in politics and international relations, the City Beach resident decided now was the time to take action and see it for herself.

“I wanted to write about the Syrian refugee crisis in one of my units, but I realised how little I knew,” she said.

“I had no experience in the field, so I withdrew from my Master in Philosophy degree.”

Next Tuesday, the 22-year-old will embark on a journey travelling around Europe for two months, before arriving at Chios, an island off Greece but nearer to Turkey, to start work as a refugee volunteer.

“Only a few months ago, the beaches were pristine and it still looked like a holiday destination,” she said.

“Now, there are tents all along the beach and thousands more refugees than originally anticipated.”

In March, more than 825 asylum seekers, mostly Syrians, arrived from Turkey. In April, another 600 arrived.

At least 3000 refugees are housed in two overcrowded camps, making it undeniable that Chios is in a crisis.

“At first, I’ll be observing boat arrivals, visas, food rounds and what I’m most passionate about, the women’s and children’s centre, then it will be decided where I go, which I do get a say in,” she said.

The former John XXIII College student said travelling to India as part of the College’s pilgrimage program in 2011 opened her eyes to volunteering.

“The pilgrimage had a big impact on me as we were able to see the situation firsthand,” she said.

“My sister also volunteered in Fiji as well as India working in childcare and absolutely loved it.”

Miss Nind has been fundraising and so far has raised enough to cover her food and accommodation costs while in Chios.

“I held a fundraiser recently and it was overwhelming to see how many people donated,” she said.

“I also have enough to hopefully implement a program and provide resources for women’s health, as there is a lack of basic sanitary items that every woman should have access to.”

Miss Nind hopes to complete her Master of Philosophy when she returns to Perth.

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