Given the topic of the refugee crisis, everyone was expecting a somewhat emotional Opening Plenary, but no one could predict that the heart and mind could both be touched simultaneously.
Ms. Doucet (Chief International Correspondent, BBC) caught everyone’s attention through the vivid description of stories of refugees’ hardships. Mr. Bouckaert (Emergencies Director, Human Rights Watch) shared the devastating numbers related to immigration while showing heartbreaking pictures of families’ arrival on the Greek and Italian coasts. Ms. Georgieva (Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, European Commission) was able to nurture some optimism by pointing out that in a period where hate and anger prevail, Foundations can amplify the voice of goodness.
But it was the ending of the Plenary that touched more than just hearts and minds. The music of the Dutch Eric Vloeimans and the Syrian born Kinan Azmeh made participants realize the soothing effect that art can have in periods of crisis.
Valia Fragkou, Senior Advisor, TIMA Charitable Foundation