Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months, you will know that the Ebola virus has flooded West Africa; at present numbers affected have reached over 10,000 confirmed cases and 5,000 deaths. The world has been rocked by the spread of the virus and leaders across the globe are coming together to halt further spread of the disease.
Yet, the most disturbing thing I’ve read about recently concerns the atrocities that we in the UK are committing. I’ve read that illegal immigrants here in the UK, originally from affected areas, have been sent home to face the virus with the full knowledge that they are at a high risk of contracting Ebola. Many more are terrified they will be sent home to face a similar fate. Now, to me, it’s just immoral, regardless of the fact that they have made the decision to come here illegally.
This however, is probably not the thing that has shocked me the most. I was at work the other day and the team started to talk about the Ebola virus, much like the rest of the world, and how dangerous it seemed. At this point, obviously keen to express my own opinions, I described to them the scenario above, expecting shock or dismay. How very wrong I was!
‘Serves them right, there are too many immigrants here anyway.’
‘They shouldn’t have tried to come here in the first place then, should they?’
Now, I am not condoning that people try to come to the UK illegally, and I recognise the strains that illegal immigration causes. But I sat back at my desk and simply thought, where is the love?
What happened to us all working together? What happened to the milk of human kindness? I was, and still am so hurt by how my team mates reacted to the fate of these people, in a strange and foreign country, clearly having made a desperate journey to get here, now effectively being dealt a death sentence by our own government. What if it was your mother, brother, or daughter?
We can only imagine the horror that people who have made the perilous journey here have experienced besides Ebola; I’ve watched on TV, and read the most heart-breaking stories of desperate families just trying to find safety and shelter. Why can’t we be more understanding, or forgiving, or at least offer people shelter and safety when their own homelands are ravaged by disease and danger?
The thing is we are all afraid these days. There’s a real sense of “them” and “us”; it’s evident from the rise of parties such as UKIP that the population are deeply mistrusting of immigrants, here either illegally or not. And all I’ve ever seen is a media trying to make that divide even deeper.
But we must always remember that “they” are just them same as “us” – fellow human beings, with the same loves, hopes, fears and ambitions. I am personally proud to live in a country that has offered a safe home for thousands of people from across the globe where they can create a new life and realise some of their dreams! Yet time and time again I have reached out to those around me and I am yet to find someone willing to open their heart to the world
Yes, people will always try to come here illegally and will pay any price for a better life, and we can’t open our doors to everyone. But when it comes to sending people home to face the very real threat of Ebola, can’t we reach out with a hand of help to another human being and share the love?
By Rachel Pallett