Twenty-eight refugees from Afghanistan

From Michael Mettler, Architect, Zürich. Furniture website at www.maude.info.

Yesterday I encountered a group of 28 refugees from Afghanistan on a train. After some initial hesitation, they started to unwrap their story, pulling out mobile phones and showing images and clips of an odyssey. The clan had been en route for six weeks passing through Iran, Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and finally Switzerland. The youngest member was barely a year old and sick, the oldest in his late sixties and traumatized by torture, the traces of which he readily unveiled.

The group seemed tired, worn down by the flu and in need of food but otherwise in surprisingly good spirits, with clean clothes and well taken care of personal hygiene. The resilience – namely of the kids – was unbelievable. The first thing one of the little ones did upon meeting my five-year-old son Milo was to offer him a chocolate bar, his only belonging.

We got them 28 sandwiches, offered to take the baby to a doctor. I hugged the old man and felt incredibly humbled. An encounter like this one stirs our humanity, puts things into perspective and unites us as humans. Out of everything, chance encounters and openness to things we can’t fathom in our daily lives helps keeping work and life in balance.

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