An Introduction to Humanity's Heart

Turkish police officer Mehmet Çıplak carries the body of Alan Kurdi. Photograph: AP

Turkish police officer Mehmet Çıplak carries the body of Alan Kurdi. Photograph: AP

Here, Tazeen Dhunna Ahmad, Humanity’s Heart’s Founder, gives her very personal account of why and how the initiative came into being.

It was the image of 3 year old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi being washed up lying face down on a beach in Turkey in September 2015 and learning that he was part of a historic flow of refugees from the Middle East to Europe that started it all for me.  I found myself caught in a place of disbelief and helplessness. Disbelief at the crisis’ scale and what was happening on our doorstep; helplessness from wanting to stop the wars causing these people to flee their homes but feeling powerless in how to best help them.

Watching barbed-wire fencing rising in Calais and also on Europe’s eastern borders coupled with refugee camps growing larger as hundreds of thousands of migrants continued to make the dangerous Mediterranean crossing, leaving thousands perished at sea, left me more motivated than ever to help.

Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

Calais from above. Photograph: Reuters

Calais from above. Photograph: Reuters

In June 2016, I embarked on a volunteering trip to Calais with family and friends who also wanted to help the refugees.

Humanitys Heart

The trip was followed by world events such as the Orlando attacks, the Brexit vote, attacks in France and Belgium, and the continual bombing of Syria.

Reflecting on everything happening in the world, the same questions kept coming to heart and mind.

Why are individuals, despite the rise in fascism, xenophobia and fear, still choosing to turn up and help?

What do the Syrian and other refugees from Afghanistan, Sudan and other war torn countries, most desire?

And ultimately, what lessons are being offered to humanity in the largest crisis since WWII?

Pink caravan at a refugee camp
Refugees group together in a tent
A young boy being photographed

Travelling with cameraman, JC, through the UK, Calais, Lebanon & Greece, we met volunteers, refugees, local residents, spiritual leaders and politicians seeking answers to some of the above questions and learning more about the deep complexities this human flow of traffic brings to our time.

What we witnessed has been life changing. In the midst of all the tragedy and the abject suffering, we also witnessed an opening of hearts which continues to give hope that humanity is very much alive. The inspiration provided by the many who are turning up to simply do their part brought to heart the words of the greatest non-violent communicator:

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
— Mahatma Gandhi

Humanity Heart aims to witness and share information on the refugee crisis and connecting those wishing to help with the different charities and initiatives helping at this time.

As part of one human family the realization that we need to act together collectively and be the change has never felt clearer to me. May our recognition of Unity allow us to appreciate our differences.

In the spirit of One and with deep gratitude.

A note of thanks:

I would like to finish this personal account with a note of thanks: I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to the many refugees, volunteers, friends and all those who have helped with Humanity’s Heart’s creation and in particular my husband, who helped make this work possible and has supported it from its initial conception.

A heartfelt prayer extends to all those who shared their stories with us - refugees, volunteers and locals. Through sharing them may we be in service to the One from whom we all came and to whom we will return.