The power of a smile: Canadian aid worker shares experience of refugee camps in Germany

A man in a Red Cross vest sitting beside a young girl

Adeola is pictured here with the little girl he helped nurse back to health

Adeola Adebayo, a nurse in Halifax, recently returned from Germany where he assisted in the refugee response efforts. For a month, he worked in Feldkirchen and Erding refugee camps run by the German Red Cross.

Adeola helped in setting up the medical clinic, assisting registration and providing triage for medical care as refugees arrived each night, most traveling from Syria as well as Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Most, after assessing them medically, just needed to sleep, eat and shower,” said Adeola. “In my time there, I learned the power of a smile. When you smile, it breaks down barriers between people.”

This was Adeola’s first mission with the Canadian Red Cross as an Emergency Response Unit delegate; however, he has been a volunteer since 2008. He had also previously worked for the Red Cross in Nigeria prior to moving to Canada in 2006.

During his month in Germany, one of his most memorable experiences was with a four-year-old patient who hadn’t eaten in four days prior to arriving at the refugee camp with her family.

“She was very weak from not eating,” explained Adeola. “After giving her rehydration salts, I gave her a taste of a cookie and she took little bites here and there. Then I tried a chocolate drink which she drank. Then she drank another. She started smiling and walking. Her mother was so happy, she took our picture.”

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