By Melissa Hekkers
I had initially made a conscious decision not to make this column about the soaring fire(s) that ruled our week. Notably not just for us in Cyprus, but for people all around the world and precisely because pain inflicted on anyone’s natural heritage is ultimately effortlessly heartfelt.
The firefighting is now over, the remains of the disaster are now merely an indicator of how we will deal with the consequences. Yet however much we have all sighed in relief that the crisis is over, I’m dubious about how we will deal with the frustration of the sight at hand. A frustration with regards to our incompetent infrastructure in dealing with such events, a frustration towards what kind of investment is going to be made to ‘repair’ the damage and how quickly moves will be made in this direction. And ultimately the frustration towards the mere sight we will have to bear in the months to come; a frustration that derives from hopelessness and the incapacity to do something about it, pronto.
Lessons then are many to learn, and perhaps too many to depict here. Yet, as in any crisis, what remains in my heart are the actions of those who selflessly made their way to help the situation in time of crisis. People we more than often refer to as volunteers.
Ever since my return from Lesvos as a ‘volunteer’ myself in a time of crisis, I have been battling with this name tag. For the very term volunteer refers to someone freely offering to do something. As human beings, I feel it is only natural to do this. Given that one has the time, the means and the physical strength to tackle a crisis, whether named a volunteer or merely a human doesn’t make much difference.
Unfortunately or fortunately should I say, it is when things get ugly that people bring out their ‘volunteering’ side, or should I say ‘human’ side, while the very act of volunteering is something that can and should be carried out year in, year out. But would everyone be satisfied if we got trained and looked after our mountains on a rota basis? Maybe not, even though we very much know that our leaders are the last ones to get their hands dirty when it comes to the crunch.