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Compassion Fatigue? Not In Our Name

Photo: Glen Matthews

It was odd to read the recent news commentary reporting 'compassion fatigue' over Syria. I do not know a single person who is not disturbed by the Syrian crisis. I hear so many ask, how can I help?

Earlier this year, from March to May, as iguacu's CEO, I had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of people about Syria along the route of a 600mile walk from London to Geneva for

At the time, there were many concerns about the flow of refugees into Europe and fears of terrorism reported in the media. Walking through England, France and Switzerland, speaking to ordinary people 1 to 1, this was not what I saw.

On each occasion, I explained I was gathering messages for peace to take to the head of the Syrian peace talks in Geneva. I was a stranger walking in off the highway.

I spoke to waiters, shop-owners, market stall-holders, people working in grocery stores and small hotels by the side of highways, small businesses in the towns and cities. It was off season for tourists and for many, business was slow. There were fears of joblessness and not being able to pay bills. Many restaurants and cafes were largely empty.

Everyone I spoke to about message4peace however stopped what they were doing. Routinely, they would turn and look me in the eyes and speak of their sadness for the Syrian people. It was incredibly moving. The vast majority also took the time to write messages for peace. It was a chance to witness the human heart. Our online site received messages from 40 countries.

I do not recognise this compassion fatigue. What I have seen is that we are all connected and deeply moved by this horrendous war. When you think we do not care, please speak for yourself, you are not speaking for us.

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