A Rude Awakening

how my vacation to Italy had a surprising affect 

On a recent trip to Italy with Joe, we encountered something that I had to talk about.  Of course, I planned on coming home to write a blog post on my travel beauty must-haves (like this one), but never imagined witnessing something that affected me so deeply I haven't stopped thinking about it.  It's not sitting well with me, and while I can't do much about the situation, I can raise awareness and try.  So here you go...

lake-como

After spending a few days in Lake Como, Joe and I pulled up to the train station to continue our travels to the Italian Riviera.  In front of the station, I noticed a camp site and as naive as I am, I seriously thought it was just that, a camp site.  After visiting George Clooney's villa and enjoying countless glasses of wine on the lake, I wondered why in the world people would want to camp in Como.  As we hopped out of our car service and the driver helped us with my bags, I threw my Louis Vuitton filled with my travel "must haves" over my shoulder proceeded to the station.  In that moment, I realized we just pulled up to a refugee camp and there were hundreds, maybe thousands of people including children who survived the journey from Syria and were trying to make it to Switzerland to claim asylum.

My heart dropped.  I felt like the entire situation smacked me across the face and it was very real. I watched as people guarded the little they had, slept in sleeping bags and took on the challenge for a better life. I watched two little boys, maybe about 10 years old, cross the platform in an attempt to hop on the next train heading towards Switzerland only to be chased off by policemen.  Even sadder, I found out that once they reach Switzerland, (if they make it that far), there are cops on the other side waiting to put them on the next train back to Como.  It really didn't look like there was any hope for these people.  

This BBC clip shows exactly what I saw.

I looked around the train station, heartbroken.  Thinking about the last few days I spent in Como and how lucky I am to live the life I lead, but also, questioning how I can help others.  I opened my suitcase in the middle of the station and gathered clothes, sneakers, and toiletries and brought it over to a group of children (four boys and three girls who were sleeping beside them) along with some food.  They were completely grateful and so excited to give one of the little girls my sneakers when she woke up.  And that was it... we left.  

I have to be honest.  I don't understand everything that's going on and while I watch the news and read the papers, the refugee situation hasn't really affected me until now.  It's sad yes, but I never looked at it with compassion before.  The scary, unfortunate truth about terrorists hiding among them made me pay little attention to what was actually happening.

While I left the situation, it hasn't left me.  I've been researching other ways to help and see that UNICEF and Save the Children are both raising funds to try to help the children so I donated, but feel that's unfortunately all I can do.