08 May 2018

No matter how dark it may seem...

No matter how dark it may seem...
Easter message 2017 from INLIA director John W R van Tilborg


Recently somebody asked me: “Why do you shelter all these people without really knowing who they are, what their backgrounds are, without knowing the risks that they bring with them?”

I explained that we did know: these are people, yes: people. Just people but then from afar. Travelers who have given up much, and sometimes even everything; sometimes they have even lost themselves. Sometimes they are very innocent people and at other times they knock on our doors straight from prison. Sometimes they are very amiable people and at other times they are people that are not that easy to deal with. All of them have a history of their own. Yet, first and foremost they are people that need assistance.

Some are sick, seriously ill even: kidney diseases, cardiac failure, diabetes, psychoses, schizophrenia and I could go on. Others do not have faith anymore in a future; they do not see any prospects in their lives anymore, nor a way to resume their lives and they have given up. They blame themselves or others for this.

It is sometimes extremely tough, even for our team that shelter and guide these people. It touches me as well when I look at our staff when they, once again, sigh deeply. However, I also see those same colleagues usually enthusiastic, energetic, full of confidence and working professionally to help those amiable and less amiable people, our guests, along their way. To help them further, because standing still will not bring them anywhere. We want these people to be able to take their future into their hands by resettlement – in their own country or a third country – or by being admitted here in the Netherlands. In all cases, we want to move away from the hopeless, threatening existence of living on the streets ; unhealthy for them as well as for society as a whole.

Many – and truly not only extreme populist – politicians exclaim mainly what they think the public wants to hear: "They have to leave the country and so we should not shelter them, you are giving them false hope", etc. These are the same politicians who put these people on the streets. On the streets without money, without food, without shelter, without care and without guidance: the amiable and the less amiable. They behave like they have no idea what they are doing, not just to this people, but to all society, with this non-solution. To force people to survive of what the streets have to offer.

So what now, now that those people are out on the streets with nothing? How can I see them differently – my neighbours, my colleagues, you and your loved ones, the amiable and the less amiable people – than born out of a mother, creatures of the same King. And I am becoming despondent about the many politicians that want to score at the expense of others.

But then I remember: every year it will be Easter again and then we know that, no matter how dark it is, light will drive away the darkness.

John portrait Regine Pijning 24feb2017 nr 5302.jpg

John W R van Tilborg
Director INLIA


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