Personal Views

These people are like you and me

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7199.1707 (Published 19 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1707
  1. Celia Duff, consultant in public health medicine
  1. Cambridge

    The child squatted in the sunshine, a toddler perhaps no more than 18 months. He wore only underpants. He held a tin mug and concentrated on dropping stones in one by one, laughing at the noise. Not 50 yards away deep red poppies lit the field with colour. If you looked far into the distance the mountains of the border rose into the mist: a beautiful land, which should have been full of hope and promise. The child looked at me and smiled. I tried not to cry.

    This child's play area was about two square metres, the distance between his family's tent and the next. This tent was one in a line of 10, beside which were 40 more lines. Neat rows on a terraced hillside. The stones and grit laid the previous month to counter the mud were harsh on the feet and featureless. His mother swept the tent and hung the blankets on a line to air.

    “Every day is spent hoping for something that never happens”

    No holiday this, but one of eight refugee camps in Macedonia. …

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