On receiving this week’s Photo Challenge from Michelle at the WordPress website, MB started a trawl through his photo library for something suitable. He came across a really nice shot of some street pigeons eating bread crusts on a footpath in front of Lake Geneva in Montreux, Switzerland. It would have got lots of ‘likes’. He came across another cutie shot of a monkey in a forest park in Goa, India, eating a banana while holding her baby. For sure many ‘likes’ would have clocked up. There were many others that would equally have brought smiles to the faces of observers.
Then MB came to some pics he took in Istanbul on his last visit to that city in the Spring of 2015. And he saw some pics of Syrian refugees begging on the streets so that they might enjoy some occasional food, ‘dinnertime’ being a long forgotten concept. And but for the generosity of passers-by, which obviously fluctuates up and down, even ‘occasional food’ becomes even more occasional.
Turkey has some 2M Syrian war refugees at this stage. The refugee camps are places of horror, and hence many refugees prefer the indignity and awfulness of begging on the streets of the major Turkish cities, in all weather conditions, in preference.
The EU has recently promised Turkey some USD 3B to cater more easily with the refugee influx, but more critically from an EU point of view, to stop the refugee tide flowing into Europe from the Turkish mainland. A Turkish friend said to MB recently that we can expect about 10% of the cash to go to the migrants and about 90% to be syphoned off by Prime Minister Erdogan and his cronies. If you know anything of Turkish politics then you will know that such predictions mightn’t be too far off the mark. Incidentally, a Syrian acquaintance of MB’s in Doha, hailed the re-election of Erdogan some months back as “a great day for Islam“. MB nearly wept on hearing. Erdogan wraps himself in the Islamic flag for sure and plays the Islamic card very well. It doesn’t surprise MB one little bit that Erdogan’s major support base comes from the lesser educated sectors of the Turkish population.
And so MB comes to the end of his ‘preachy’ introduction to this weeks photo challenge. Please forgive the departure from the more pleasant norm. A little commentary follows on each of the pics.
MB is not expecting many likes!
The angelic faces of the two babies caught MB’s attention in particular. The shot was taken in the heart of Istanbul’s tourist area, approx 100m from the famous Blue Mosque and other iconic Istanbul attractions. A grotesque contrast if ever MB saw one.
This is not a nice photo, in the sense that it doesn’t convey anything nice. In fact it is very un-nice. MB is sure that when this young couple got married only a few years back, the world seemed full of great promise and all things good. Then their country and their region were engulfed in war. MB noticed that the father never lifted his eyes from the downward direction. He would raise his hand to beg money on hearing passers-by get close or on seeing their feet, but the shame of his new found refugee/begger status didn’t allow him to look strangers in the eye. The look on his wife face is even worse, and speaks a thousand words and more of her new-found situation also. To say that she is beginning to look more animal than human is not an exaggeration. What a world we live in.
The awful irony of this photo is that the two signs behind this hungry mother and child refugee beggar duo, on a hot Istanbul street, are advertising health supplements in the adjoining shop. The mother has positioned herself and child in the shadow of the tree trunk to avoid the sun’s heat and allow her child to get some easier sleep. She would raise her hand to passers-by for donations.