This year’s political hot topic seems (once again) to be migration. We are all familiar with the storyline. In 2015 we saw a rise in refugees and migrants coming to Europe. Some have left their home country because of war, while others have left because of poverty with hopes for a better life elsewhere. Ever since the member states of the EU have all tried in their own ways to limit their share of the responsibility. In fact it has become a global trend to close down borders and build fences and walls to keep the lesser privileged out.
For three years a harsh debate between the ones who believes in tighter control and the ones wanting to help the ones in need has roared. This hasn’t produced the needed results, and today we find that the problems have only grown to become so big that it threatens the very existence of the EU – a union designed to keep the European continent peaceful.
I hope 2018 will be the year for transnational solutions to the refugee and migrant crisis. The high pressure on our elected European state leaders gives hope, as nothing is higher on the agenda for quite a few of them. The combination will neither be walls nor open arms. Because letting people die at the foot of Fortress Europe is just as short sighted as welcoming everyone from Africa – the worlds poorest continent projected by the UN to reach a dizzying 3.4 billion people by the end of the century.
And this is where GAME enters the stage. One of the reasons why I feel so proud working for GAME is because we provide a small, but nonetheless important part of the solution through youth-led initiatives evolving around the passion for street sports. This is done by promoting social cohesion and providing lifesaving relief to improve the lives of the ones who haven’t left for Europe yet – and help them lead decent lives at or close to home. And for the ones already in Europe, we help them get a good start and make new friends, which is crucial for their integration. After living two years in Beirut, Lebanon, I know how many skilled organizations and people are working towards these goals every day, but at the same time I’ve also seen how much bigger the need is than what is currently being done.
I hope this model with youth-led social change both at home and abroad can inspire our European leaders to see the importance of developing more initiatives and structures, that will allow everyone to lead decent lives on both sides of the fence. Because as the American author and social entrepreneur Wes Moore puts it in his book The Work, “our passion, influence, and responsibility can never end at our borders”. Only then will we succeed.