Christian Long

Cameron Sinclair: The Refugees of Boom and Bust

In TED Talks on April 11, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Reflection by CAROLINE M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc

Cameron Sinclair:  The Refugees of Boom and Bust

“Currently, right now, thousands of workers are abandoned. There is no way back home. And there is no way, and no proof of arrival. These are the boom-and-bust refugees.”

Cameron Sinclair is an architect who is part of a non-profit organization called Architecture for Humanity. They provide homes and various other building for those in need. This video is not so much about the organization he is involved in but about the people they try to help.

Just over one million workers are brought to construction sites all over the world, and are then left with no money, no home, and no job. These displaced laborers pay money to receive the opportunity to work on these sites where they find that they are without many basic human rights.They are placed in labor camps with little food, rarely any safe drinking water, and no air conditioning. Not only are some of their rights taken away but also their passports as to prohibit them from the leaving the construction site to go home, like prisoners. During the “boom” of architectural construction many workers were required however the financial crisis occurred and money for building began to run low. Therefore, projects all over were halted. For example 300 skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates in just the last six months were stopped leaving all of its workers without a job. After losing their job they are often without their passport, a ticket home, and any sort of income. These victims of the economic crisis are in far worse situations than those that you or I may be familiar with. There are many organizations trying to help these workers and refugees, “…who are truly dying to work.”

This Tedx video about the refugees of the rise and fall of the economy is something I have never been introduced to.

It’s horrible to think that everyday I sit in my home and classroom and take it all for granted. Workers around the world, even in the United States, help to build the things that they themselves can end up without. It is hard for me to understand how someone can be so cruel as to treat human beings as nothing more than a way to achieve a profit. Where has the basic understanding of humanity gone in today’s society? Our rights as human beings aid to define who we are and separate us from being just another species on this planet. When they are taken away we are nothing more than barbaric animals.

I take slight comfort in knowing that in this world we have the self-centered, power hungry people and in their counterpart we have people like Sinclair who help to erase their mistakes. It is easy for me as a high school student to sit behind a computer and describe everything that I find wrong with the world and do nothing about it, but one day I hope I can follow behind the ethical and environmental footsteps of people like Sinclair and try to help benefit this world instead of destroy it.


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