Maynooth Community College

TY EPAS Student Article on Croatian Solidarity Initiative

TY EPAS Student Article on Croatian Solidarity Initiative

Our TY EPAS students took part in a Solidarity initiative with EPAS students from France, Spain & Croatia on Tuesday. This was in response to an appeal by European Parliament President David Sassoli who called on EPAS schools across Europe to get in touch with EPAS schools in Petrinja & Zagreb to express their solidarity. Their schools had been destroyed in an earthquake in Dec 2020.

Below is an article by Rawak Atmeh (TY) outlining his experience and knowledge gained about the recent Croatian earthquake:

Croatia: Petrinja/Zagreb Solidarity Initiative

On 22nd March 2021, a solidarity initiative was launched between EPAS (European Parliament Ambassador School) schools across Europe to show solidarity for people in Croatia after an earthquake struck the country. Several schools from France, Spain, Ireland and Croatia attended this online event. MEPs from these countries also attended the event. Students from Croatia talked about how their lives had changed because of this earthquake. One girl mentioned how she lives in constant fear of another earthquake devastating her life. Despite this earthquake, Croatian students in their final year of secondary education will still sit their Matura exams. Their entire school has been destroyed and many have had their lives badly impacted, yet still have the courage to get up and sit their exams, under all that stress.

The next section of the event had students from several schools asking the MEP’s questions about the EU response to this event. The MEPs mainly focused on the European solidarity fund, which allows emergency funds to be transferred from member states to a country that has been devastated by a disaster. The topic of coronavirus was raised and the importance of keeping a healthy mental state. Despite it being a struggle, the end was in sight as the European vaccine program ramped up.

After every school had asked the MEPs a question, an open discussion took place where each school could put questions to the students in Croatia. They talked about how their lives had been ruined and how they were forced to adapt to the post-earthquake circumstances. One student had been living with a friend and has to drive 30 minutes to get to her school. Many of these students will not return to see their school rebuilt as they are graduating shortly. The young people from Croatia also told us that the best way to support them is through a monetary contribution.

Although it is hard for us in Ireland to empathize with people in Croatia, as Ireland is a nation that does not experience natural disasters often, it's very important that we do. As a member of the European Union, our government is expected to send aid to Croatia, as Croatia is expected to help us when we need it. The least we can do is express solidarity with them.

Rawak Atmeh (TY)

Junior Ambassador for Europe

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