“This year, I’m going to do something that matters.” – Travel blogger Ruth Earley, Rambling Ruth, has decided to travel Europe to work with refugees and help make a real change in 2017.
Another New Year, another dry January, another promise to myself that I’m going to take up yoga and pound the pavements while consuming only the healthiest, heartiest of foods. I’ll stick to it this year. I will. No, really…
It’s everybody’s January, right?
Well this year, for the first time in my adult life, it’s not mine. Of course I’m starting the year by putting my best foot forward, but this year my resolution is to make a change. A real change. This year, I’m going to do something that matters.
It’s widely accepted that 2016 was a pretty rubbish year. The world seemed to go mad. I watched and I read and I listened in horror as the fabric of our society started to come apart at the seams.
Surely somebody was going to step in and do something about the rotting geopolitical landscape? Surely somebody was going to talk some sense into the British and the Americans? Surely somebody was going to negotiate peace in war-torn countries? Surely somebody was going to take care of the refugees across Europe? Surely somebody was going to fix it all?
I watched and I read and I listened. I waited. Nobody stepped in. Nobody fixed it. And slowly, it dawned on me – this was partly my fault. I had stood back and watched. I had waited. And while I did, while we all did, the world began to unravel.
So I’m making a change. It’s not earth shattering and it won’t save the world, but it’s the part I’m able to play. This January, I’m taking a one way trip to Europe to volunteer with refugee camps and organisations across the continent. My first stop is Calais, then Paris and further afield to Macedonia and on to Greece. My plans are deliberately loose because I don’t really know what will greet me and I’m keeping both my plans and my mind open to all possibilities. I haven’t set a return date.
I do have an ulterior motive. 2016, for me, was a year of coming face to face with inner demons and plenty of poor life choices. I found that I’d been chasing a career and a lifestyle that left me hollow. My life was too heavily peppered with people who left me hollow. My soul was broken. Worst of all, I had stopped writing, which is my biggest passion.
And so I stepped back and took a breath. I left my London apartment and all the gloss behind to come home to Ireland. I picked up my pen and I began to write again.
For a while, there has been a story nagging at me. I brushed thoughts of it away again and again. It was not a story I could write. One of the characters was a refugee in Europe. What did I know about refugees in Europe?
And as I watched and I read and I listened, the pieces of my own puzzle started to fit together and just as I had realised that I couldn’t wait for somebody else to do something good, I also realised that I couldn’t wait for somebody else to write this story. I will learn. I will continue to learn and I will write.
More importantly, I will take responsibility for being part of this world.
– Ruth Earley.