Many of you have probably just come back to reality after your big Comic Con cosplay adventures at the Salt Palace, fantasizing your role as a ruthless tyrant or a wide-eyed victim. It was a mighty con, all right. There were comic books to buy and get signed, with stories of people/creatures scrambling to flee a dark evil.
But the very same weekend, something very different was happening just up the street at the Salt Lake Library—a touring exhibit called Forced From Home presented by Doctors Without Borders.
It raised more than hair and goosebumps for those lucky enough to see it. Aid workers from around the world took visitors behind the headlines to show them what the global refugee crisis really looks like from their point of view.
The interactive outdoor displays were extra chilling. For example, there was one in which you climbed into an overcrowded rubber raft with only what you could carry in your arms—fleeing for your life in search of hope and freedom.
The group set up eight stations on the library plaza for a realistic, educational demonstration. You could feel their experience when asked to pick up a 10-gallon container of water (half empty but still heavy) and told to imagine that it's all the water your family has for a week and that you might have to carry it across a desert to then hopefully reach a refugee camp.
Tents and living situations recreated a refugee camp. Through VR goggles you could get 360-degree views of various placement centers, and watch people running or swimming for their lives.
The 10,000-square-foot space was manned by actual Doctors Without Borders staffers who talked not only about their basic needs, but also about the legal status of those forced to flee from their homelands, as well as their medical needs and the details of where they go and why. They also told stories about unaccompanied minors whose families are dead, and what they have to do to survive. It was heartbreaking and eye-opening.
There are 65 million people displaced around the world. Now, more than ever, we need to look beyond our own borders to help others in whatever way we can. The exhibit is traveling to many Western cities in the U.S., so go to forcedfromhome.com and see if you can take part in the experience.