Fares about his work as Cultural Mediator on Board

Halbtotale von Fares mit blauen SOS Humanity T-Shirt an Bord der Humanity 1 mit weißem Hintergrund und Ausblick auf den blauen Himmel und das Meer
Max Hirzel / SOS Humanity

As Cultural Mediator, Fares was an important part of the crew of Humanity 1 during the last rotation. He ensured a safe and respectful time for the survivors and the crew on board, he lessened the language barrier, took on conflict management and created understanding and awareness for cultural differences. It was already the second time Fares had taken on these tasks. After his last assignment on board in October and November 2022, we asked about his motivations, political demands and wishes.

Why are you here and what motivates you?

I came to Italy in 2007. Therefore, when the revolution in Syria started, I was watching from far away and couldn’t do anything. That did hurt. I was even dreaming about it, and I was too far away to do my part in it.

In a social centre that I regularly visited, they told me: “If you want to help people, you can also do that here, with your language! You can become a cultural mediator for people arriving in Europe.” From there I did a training and got more and more involved and worked in this field until I was able and experienced enough to be part of this rotation onboard the Humanity 1.

Fares, Cultural Mediator an Bord der Humanity 1 ,bei der Arbeit auf dem Schiff.
Max Hirzel / SOS Humanity

I didn’t participate in the most important years in my home country, and I feel guilty because of that.
With my job I want to make up for what I have missed out on in ways of committing to society during the revolution. Basically, I felt the need to do something. That’s why it is a bit selfish.

Here on the ship, I have especially the feeling that I can be helpful because it’s the closest humanitarian emergency where I can help people from where I come from. It’s the first step for the people fleeing from there and I try to help them arriving, explain them everything I know.
The ship itself is not important for me, supporting the people on this path is.

What does humanity mean for you?

It sounds like a cliché but the first word which comes into my mind is tolerance.
I was so happy to read it on the papers that are posted in different places on deck, sharing the values onboard Humanity 1 with the those rescued. Just put yourself in the shoes of other people before giving advice or speaking.

What are your political and/or humanitarian demands?

If I could create a utopia, there would be no politicians and no borders. In my eyes, they are both completely useless. They do more harm than good. In this ideal world there is no need for a politician, there will be no borders.

Borders are an artificial construct created by humans. It is pure luck where you were born. It is not fair.

When you were born in the US, you can go everywhere. My only realistic demand is that it stops getting worse. 100 years back, people from northern Turkey could take a train and go until Jemen in the south, without the need of showing any ID. They could work and go back home without the need to justify that. It is not like that anymore. It is constantly getting worse.

We treat strangers like criminals before they do anything bad. It should be the other way around. I trust you without knowing you, before you do anything wrong you have my trust. Just if you do something wrong, then we must talk.

What do you wish for 2023?

To be realistic, I don’t think that everything can be fixed, but I wish that it is not getting worse. Whether it’s about the war in Ukraine, the crisis in Iran or just in general about people that need to move but are stopped. I just hope that the conditions for all those people do not get even worse.

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