“Whoever saves one life saves the entire world,” said Itzhak Stern to Oskar Schindler in an emotive last scene of the movie Schindler’s List, after Oskar helped save the lives of over 1,000 Polish-Jewish refugees. That movie portrays the Holocaust of the 20th century. Some have correctly identified what’s happening right now in Aleppo as another holocaust, a genocide.
There is a video that made me break down in tears (see below). It features a Syrian mom, with her face covered in blood in the middle of a chaotic hospital, mourning her dead children after the government bombed their building in Aleppo and killed entire families.
“They did not die in vain,” says a boy, holding his dead brother between his arms.
I often wonder how, as a society, we can all just keep walking through life, ignoring that there are places burning in fire and people covered in blood every single day. Especially since we have the ability to do something about it.
That is why TRAC is not just a project, nor simply a cool initiative. What we are doing is trying to impact the lives of six real people. Even if that seems little compared to the millions crying for help, we know that each life is immensely worthy- especially from a Christian perspective, knowing that God loves them deeply.
I am Emilio Rodríguez, I am from El Salvador, and I believe that being a Christian demands to have your heart broken over and over again and to give every drop of your sweat serving where pain is present, over and over again. “One cannot be a Christian if he is not a revolutionary,” says Pope Francis, and I could not agree more: a Christian must be a revolutionary that seeks to transform those dark places through sharing Christ´s love.
I have found my passion and life purpose in giving all my efforts to social justice issues, inspired and guided by the integral, redemptive work of Jesus, rooted in intensive social science studies. My major is International Studies, and there is nothing else I would rather do than focusing on the different social issues in the world and how to address them.
This is why, when Jordie told me his “crazy idea” in late September 2016, I had no other words to say other than a huge “yes”. This was not the first time that he and I discussed ideas about how to change the world- I have the blessing of being his dorm mate for three semesters now. I remember that, starting in spring 2016 (my first semester at TWU), we used to have late night talks about future humanitarian projects, social issues, and politics.
“We are going to start an NGO someday,” I recall him saying as we talked about the idea of fostering coffee production in Central America by creating an organization that sold it to Canada- or something like that.
The dream of starting an organization came sooner than what I expected. Jordie returned from the summer with this amazing idea. We discussed it from the beginning, reading through the basic, initial drafts; and, finally, when the idea had more shape, we invited him to share it with the Social Justice Club. And from then on, TRAC grew exponentially to become what it is now.
My official role in the beginning was to be one of the Social Justice Club Liaisons, since I am the co-leader of the SJC, alongside Andrea Rodríguez. Our role was to manage the partnership between TRAC and the SJC, having our main responsibility in organizing the launch event that happened on February 2nd, 2017, in which members of the Social Justice Club were closely involved.
Now, I am TRAC´s journalist, leading the advocacy aspect of our campaign. One of my projects is called “TRAC stories”, which is a compilation of inspiring messages and personal profiles from people working for refugees and refugees themselves telling their stories- stay tuned and expect this soon.
I believe that we are called to raise our voices loud and clear against these injustices. Especially now that xenophobia is prevalent in North America, I find my mission in telling the stories of real people that are being affected by these ideas.
These are real people, not numbers; they are not running away from their countries because they want to steal your jobs, or because they want to terrorize your land. They are running away because they are being killed in their homelands. You only leave home like that, and beg for help, when home is the mouth of a shark.
My personal hope for the future, and through TRAC, is that we become a community that is aware of the suffering in the world and that is quick to share the love of Christ through compassion towards the “least of these”. As Christians, we must love deeply and fight for justice. We must allow our hearts to be broken, and out of that pain, find inspiration to make a change.
(warning: disturbing content)