A flag showing solidarity on its way from Croatia to Syria

تم النشر: 21 أغسطس 2013 16:59 CET

It may just be a piece of cloth, but it is painted with passion and shows solidarity. It’s a flag of support from Croatian Red Cross youth volunteers at the Croatian Red Cross to their colleagues at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. The colourful messages end with a one-liner: “Hang in there, brother”.

The story of the flag started a year ago at the Red Cross Red Crescent Mediterranean youth camp Atlantis, which was held in Andorra. Croatian Red Cross youth volunteer Kristina Repusic met with former Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and listened to their experiences of the ongoing crisis in their country.

“They showed us a Red Crescent vest with a bullet hole and talked to us about the volunteers who had lost their lives. At that moment, I knew we had to support the Red Crescent volunteers in Syria and to let them know how inspiring we find their commitment,” recalls 22-year-old Kristina, who has been a volunteer since the age of 13.

“I was only a child during the war in Croatia, but the stories told by the Syrian delegation reminded me of that time and affected me a lot.”

Kristina shared the Red Crescent volunteers’ stories about the crisis with the 150 participants at the Osijek branch youth summer camp of the Croatian Red Cross. Everyone was so moved and wanted to show their support, and they came up with the idea of a flag with messages of peace, support and encouragement.

A reminder of something bigger

“But it is also a reminder that we are a part of something bigger, we are not only individuals,” explains Kristina.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the flag really became part of something bigger when Kristina took it with her to the Atlantis youth camp, which was held in Jahorina, in south-western Bosnia and Herzegovina. There the participants and the Centre for the Cooperation in the Mediterranean (CCM) decided to do everything possible to deliver the flag to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

“Raising awareness of the challenges and the losses that our partner National Societies are facing – as well as the communities they serve – is a priority,” explains Ariana Potrafki, Acting Director of CCM.

“This is why we welcome and support Kristina’s initiative, both as awareness-raising and as a clear example of Red Cross Red Crescent youth mobilization. This also shows that the training provided during Atlantis empowers young people to be active leaders and dynamic models of change for their local communities,” says Ariana.

“Back in 2007, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent hosted the third edition of Atlantis under the title ‘A space to develop young humanity’. The flag is sending a message of support, not only during the present Crisis, but also as hope for a context in which humanitarian assistance is delivered free from threat,” she adds.

Values cross borders and cultural differences

“The most important aspect of Red Cross Red Crescent international youth gatherings is that you realize that although we come from different countries and cultures, we share the same values. Our values cross borders and cultural differences,” says Kristina.

In the western Balkans region, people know what the internal fighting and crisis mean. But they also know that the healing process is possible.

“Somebody is from Sarajevo, somebody from Montenegro or Serbia, but here we sit all together and listen to each other’s stories from the war, feeling bad for each of them. There is not one ounce of hate among us, ” concludes Kristina.

The request made by the Croatian Red Cross youth delegation in Atlantis will be fulfilled and, with the support of partner National Societies, the flag will reach its final destination: Syria.