Thursday, 22 October 2015

Day 20

I take it all back. All the stuff about being happy and whatever else. I'm not happy here. I'm angry, upset, frustrated and tired of a situation I don't understand and can't resolve.

I've said it before: who do you think it is here trying to help refugees? The government? Superman? No... People like me and you, with no political influence or money. Just a pair of hands and a brain. We all know some dry clothes don't solve the problem, but what else can we do? It's out of our hands to open the camp areas where people have dry houses to sleep in. It's out of our hands to make it legal for refugees to take taxis and buses before they are legal in Europe. It's out of our hands to provide  a real boat for refugees to cross to Europe in. So clothes and shoes is all we can do for now. And it has to be enough. But it's not. 

The weather changed and it became 10 times worse than yesterday. As we travelled to the camp we expected the worse. 
People were using whatever they found to protect themselves from the rain. There's no seats at the camp and it was obvious that the older people had been standing for too long and were starting to get tired. 

Here's a guy using a bin bag to protect himself while he tries to talk with one of his friends who is living in the unnacompanied minors area. 

Here's the mide part of the camp. It used to be full of people, but the police changed the way things work and now people queue somewhere else. It looks like a war happened here. 

This is the area where he people go to after they cross the gates. There's usually around 30 people at the time inside that will have a photo taken and get given their paper that says they can say in Greece for one month before they apply for asylum. 

We spent most of the day handing out clothes and shoes. But how do you choose who to give clothes to wen everyone is soaking wet? And it's raining outside and you know they will be wet again in two minutes? 

This girl was around 9 years old and was walking around the camp like this. We found her some dry socks, shoes and a raincoat. 

The shoes this girl is wearing were way too big for her. But we had run out of shoes as socks at this point. She had to leave like this again. They were soaked!

At some point a girl came in with no shoes and I couldn't understand what she had on her feet. They looked like dried fruit. They had been wet for so long tht her toes were merging together and it didn't matter how much I dried the feet they were still wet. I didnt take a photo of that one. My priority was taking care of it. 

This baby just needed some dry clothes and a new diaper. He became instantly happy!! :)

There was another baby that came in with his family. They were all wet and we gave them new clothes. The baby was sleeping and the family put him in a chair while they changed. Something smelled really bad and I realised it was the baby. There were flies everywhere around him. It smelled of pee and poop. I gave the mother some new clothes and diapers. And then they left. 

Today was, by far, the hardest day I have had at the camp. 
I had to play the judge and say "no" no many people. People that asked me for a jacket or some shoes. Sometimes I said "no" because we didn't have any, but a lot of the times I said "no" because I had to prioritise and help someone else, or because I felt like that person didn't need it enough. But who am I to decide if one person needs it more than the other? Mother kept grabbing me and begging for shoes for their kids. Then some would be angry because the clothes were pink and they were for a boy. Then they wouldn't believe me when I said I had no more shoes. Then I had to say "no" when re kids clothes were wet but just a little. Then people kept shouting. Grabbing. Asking. And I felt like crying every time. And then the kids were crying. The police was shouting. The parents were tired. I was tired. Everyone was tired. 

And then I get to close the door. There's still a queue outside. I get to go home. They get to stay there. I try not to think about where these people will sleep. 
We walk home. We get stopped by two men on the street that ask us if we know of any hotel. They are refugees. I think they are Syrian but they say they are not. I wonder if they lied because they got refused help for being refugees. They explain that they are two families looking for somewhere to stay. Is 11pm but we give them the phone number to two hotels we have stayed at previously. They call. "No rooms" is always the answer. They thank us as continue the search. They go in the grocery shop where the locals are watching football. They politely ask if they know of any hotels. One person takes their eyes of the TV and says "no". They thank him and leave. 

Did I really say I was happy to be here? I need a dictionary and some help finding a better word. I'm infuriated that I need to be here. And as we learn from the people who have been working here for longer: tomorrow is another day. Let it go. 


Anonymous said...

Qd e impossivel de resolveres o que pretendes o esforco pode ser exasperante. Mas ninguem tem a capacidade de se transformar no que se pretende, um par de sapatos, uma peca de roupa seca.. nao, isto nao e uma piada.
O retrato real que fazes e pesado. A dura realidade por vezes e assim. Mas ensina-nos, ensina-nos muito.

O tema da emigracao e de dificil debate. O choque de culturas, a dificil integracao, os traumas. Tudo sao temas complexos. Podes ver pela situacao actual da Franca, onde ainda nao conseguem integrar o islamismo e que continuamente segregam pelas geracoes vindouras os problemas que o racismo e a violencia facilmente sublinham.

No final do dia ficam sempre as perguntas sem resposta.
Mas seremos sempre limitados.
Das vezes que sao um par de sapatos, menos mal.
Das vezes que sao da falta de capacidade de ajudar a transpor diferencas e dificuldades e sermos melhor como um todo, e terrivelmente pior.

Sendo pequeno como as limitacoes e condenador. E somos tantas vezes peritos em ressalva-las..

No teu caso talvez o sorriso e tua disposicao em certos momentos sejam bem mais reconfortantes. Nao te percas com o resto.
Ajudar pode ser de 1000 maneiras qd o coracao fala mais alto, a gestao de contingencias e ingrata mas nao tem de ser a tua luta.

Ricardo nz

karen said...

My husband and I are thinking that we may volunteer in Lesbos January this year. We are 65 and 55yrs respectively - are we too old, would we fit in, what would you advice be??? Thanks, Karen

Sara Sofia said...

Hi Karen ,

feel free to email me at to talk about this.
It all comes to finding an organisation that does work that suits your skills. You are definitely NOT too old.