Sunday, 18 October 2015

Day 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17

I have to apologise for the lack of news these days but I do have good reasons for my absence.

I was ill for two days and that meant I stayed in bed most of the time. I kept myself very very busy researching into news things and opportunities and even gave an interview. Wooohooo exciting!

Then on Saturday I was finally ready to go to Moria again and work on the camp but the day was chaotic for the Doctors of the World team and it was impossible to get someone to pick us up. We decided to spend the day at the port with our good old friend the soap bubbles. We cheered up some kids and played a bit. We saw a Norwegian boat arrive to the port and it had many refugees aboard. We waved as they went past and they seemed relieved for arriving to Greece. We tried to figure out the official version of what had happened but didn't find it. We assume they rescued the refugees from the rubber boats. It may be that the engine stopped working, the boat turned, who knows. 

Then today, Sunday, is the official day off for all volunteers. 
We met with some other people from the team that we usually don't get to spend time with outside "duty hours". 
The weather wasn't that good but we decided to go for a swim because it was Jolijn's last free day and we knew of a good spot. We hadn't swam until today because the whole idea seemed out of place. Swimming at a beach full of life jackets and rubber boats at the same time some refugees hide from the sun under trees and we sunbathe. It just seemed off. But I think by now we understand how thins work, we understand we aren't being disrespectful and our heads are, maybe, more organised. And it made sense to go in the sea today. 

We also met a Greek woman called Maria that had lived in England many years ago. She was swimming at the same beach and gave me her flippers to swim with. We spoke for some time with her about life expectations, refugees, being away from your culture, immigrate. All this while the sun warms your body. I felt blessed and happy. 

We are now staying at a new house. A great guy called Manolis that is a scouts leader, has let us stay at his home for free for a few days. We are so thankful! All the hotels were booked!

On our way to dinner I had sudden feeling I had to talk to my grandma and I called her right then. She didn't answer her home number. I tried her mobile even though it would be bloody expensive. I just knew I had to talk to her. And so she answered and we talked and I was in the middle of explaining the refugee registration process and how we hand in clothes etc and I hear someone saying in Portuguese "did you say clothes!????" and I feel a hand grabbing my arm. I was so confused. It was an old lady. I didn't understand what she was on about and it took me a few seconds to realise she heard me talking Portuguese on the phone and ran to see who I was. She was Portuguese too. She saw my "doctors of the world" badge and starts hugging me and Jack and saying "thank you for coming and help!!!" She introduces herself as I'm still talking to my grandma on the phone and walks with us. I say bye to my grandma and this lady says "I bet I'm older than your grandma. I'm 80!" And she grabs my arm as starts walking with us like she knows where we are going and she is coming with. We walk past some refugees. She takes some boxes of pastries of her bag, thins she clearly bought for herself, and gives it to a family of refugees that were sitting on a bench. Not because she felt they were hungry, but as a love gesture. And they honestly appreciated it. She walks 5m and starts sobbing. I don't understand what's happening. I hug her and she pushes me back so she can look me in the eyes while saying "you don't understand. It breaks my heart and soul when I hear people talking about refugees like they are rubbish and not worthy of help. How can some people think like that? Do they not see that these people have NOTHING?" She talks and cries. I feel powerless. 
We walk a few meters.
Her mood changes. She tells me many things about her life. She shared them like precious secrets. She speaks English to Jack, Portuguese to me and Greek to a friend that was with us. This woman is special.
She wants our help. She wants to volunteer her time to help the refugees but doesn't know how to because she is the carer of her husband who is very ill and in bed all the time.
We say goodbye while sharing our phone numbers. I ask her if it's ok to visit her before I leave. She says "I bloody well hope you call me more than once before you leave! I want to see you many times before that day!" :) and how can you not smile at this?
 I think about her for the rest of the night. Then, at 11pm as I am having dinner with other volunteers (by the way, that's normal Greek time for dinner), I get a call. "Hi, it's me. Can you come for lunch this Wednesday? Please! I really want you to come!" And there's only one answer you can give to this lady that has just become your best friend in the entire world 3h before! "Yes, what time?" :)

Bring on another week. I'm so happy here. 


Rui Guimarães said...

Loved this post... :)
It's amazing to meet these people when you least expect it...

kiri said...

Ola! Encontrei o teu blog por acaso e na verdade nao sabia que havia tantos portugueses por lesbos. Vivo tambem em Mytilini. Pena que nao vos tenha apanhado a falar pelas ruas!