Refugees and responsibility

photo courtesy of and Flickr


I’m going to a concert this Saturday. Nothing unusual in that but this is a special one as all proceeds from the evening will go to charities supporting those affected by the refugee crisis including Migrant Offshore Aid Station, an organisation carrying out search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, and Anaya Aid, a UK based humanitarian organisation providing aid inside Syria.

The concert itself (at St Paul’s Church, Dorking) consists of Italian opera favourites. Beautiful arias and ensembles by Mozart, Puccini, Handel and more, performed by a multi-national cast of professional singers and pianists. With insights into the pieces, their lyrics and composers from Matteo Dalle Fratte, Italian Tenor, Coach at the Royal Opera House, and Italian Coach for Sir John Eliot Gardiner. – tickets from

Sounds like a good evening to me – but it made me think about some of the people we tend to forget as we focus on our own concerns. I wrote this poem some while ago, angered by some of the attitudes in the UK press…

Have I?


Have I ever woken to gunfire in the night?

Known that it was foolish to even try to fight?

Have I held my infant children as I tried to scale a fence

though the top was rimmed with barbed wire and the drop beyond immense?


Have I paid all my life savings to a bunch of drunken thieves

who told me where to be when the next sailing leaves?

Have I thrown my empty stomach on the rolling, churning waves?

Have I fought and cried and struggled for the freedom we all crave?


Am I naked, weak and lonely, am I hungry, cold, bereft?

Am I victim of all horrors from violence to theft?

Have I struggled to jump on and hide behind some load?

Have I spent a thousand nights on the unforgiving road?


Have I any understanding of hunger, thirst or fright?

Am I comfy here in England? Can I really sleep at night?

Tony Earnshaw

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