[Curator’s note] Alkasem was a doctor student in Syria, but had to flee the country for obvious reasons. He studied for four years at the university, but on arriving here he couldn’t continue his studies because of his status of refugee in Europe. Still he came to the workshop in Brussels and we are all really thankful for his disruptive thinking and propositions that helped us think out of the box and see our Western society from another perspective.
About alternatives to our healthcare system:
In Syria we have an ‘islamic solidarity’ in society that creates a kind of health system without organization, like you have to give a part of your money to the poor, you have social care system that is organized by the people itself. If you haven’t fastened for one day, you have to give food to 64 people. Every doctor works one day a week for free. That is how we can survive under a dictatorship. We are already prepared for any kind of chaos, it is made for any kind of situation and is part of our cultural heritage.
I want to see the whole of society as one body, but here everybody lives in his box, I call this “boxpeople”. You live together but you don’t really live together. You are online, but not connected, we have to discuss, to see each other more. This is my new society, so i want to care as much about this now then how I cared about my society in Syria.
For exemple the old people are separated from the rest of the adults, they don’t have a connection. Why do you do that? We don’t talk about generational society, we don’t attach value to the older people here and that makes me worry. I hear a lot about that here we work a lot about societal diversity, but not generational diversity
About people sleeping in the streets:
One of the first things I noticed in Brussels is that a lot of people are living in the streets. Why are they living in the streets, don’t they have families to take care of them? Where are the families of the homeless people? I never saw anyone homeless in Syria, or living on a mattress. How did it happen?
Some of the participants responded later on:
- the core family concept has been broken down - after uni and growing up you have to support yourself; so there is no glue which keeps family together
- in North Africa systems are weak - so there has always been a cultural support; whereas in the West the system is supposed to take care of everything
- "Free, but alone." vs. "Belonging, but coerced" Comparing systems-based vs. family-based cultures of care (twitter link)
Everything moves around friendship. I have the feeling that a lot of people in western society start of with mistrust. If you start with mistrust it is difficult to create trust. And without trust no skill can be shared. How can we create a better health system if we need all kind of difficult systems to create the trust that isn’t there really.
In less then one day, Alkasem showed us that the things we find sometimes really obvious aren’t at all for everybody. He inpacted a lot of the discussions with his point of views and made it obvious that sometimes we are still a bit too etnocentric about the way we want to design solutions. Having completly different cultural heritages at the table makes a discussions so much richer.