Friday, 6 November 2015

Debriefing part 1

NOTE: I'm sorry if none of this makes sense. It's an attempt to analyse what's been on my mind for the last few weeks. It's messy and confusing. As it should be.

Sitting at the airport between England and Greece is hardly the ideal moment and place to analyse the last few days. But things are racing though my mind and it's hard to stop it from happening.

I realise now, that my days were nothing but normal. I mean... They were normal in that context, but looking back... It was so messed up. I don't think it's normal to spend my days making posters for missing people and stick them around towns. It's not normal to rescue people off boats and hugging them as we all cry. It's not normal for me to say no to people that want warm clothes. It's not normal for children to tell me they are hungry and I can't do anything about it. But here... All of this happens daily. IT IS THE NORM.

I can't give many details about a few things that happen in the last couple days. It involves people that are missing in the sea and me getting involved in helping the families finding news about them. Before I came here I really thought that shocking people with details about the horror stories were a great way to get attention to the problem. Now I see it as disrespectful towards the families. They aren't just a family looking for a missing family member. They are my friends, looking for a son, an uncle, a brother... And they all have names. And a face and a story.

One of the things I most enjoyed doing while in Moria was go out of the gates and meet the people that were still queueing. So, on my last day I armed myself with 10 packs of biscuits and headed there. I always make an effort to look happy and smile, not because I want to undermine how serious the situation is but because I want them to know people are nice around here and we want to help. Sometimes I'm silly and I take it too far. Maybe I'm recreating something I learned during my time working at a hotel, but I sometimes said "I hope you had a good trip". But although the answers at the hotel ranged from "yes I did" to "oh a lot of traffic", here they go from "horrible" to "very horrible". Yesterday a man told me that his boat had to return to Turkey twice because the boat was too flooded to continue all the way to Greece. On the third attempt they made it. The boats flood because they are too heavy from too many people inside. They are almost levelled with the water when they go in the sea. There's kerosene from the engine that mixes with the water inside the boat and makes chemical burns on the skin of the refugees without them noticing until it's too late.

On a piece of good news: on Monday Jack was walking around town, talking to me on the phone and I hear someone calling his name. He put it on speaker phone and guess who it was!!! The guys that were rescued from the boat on Sunday night. I hung up the phone and met them at the port. It was nice to see them well and ready to continue the trip. I wish it meant it was finished, but Lesvos is just one of the many stages they have to face. We exchange contact details and promise to keep in touch. I hope they email me in a few months to say how happy they are in Europe.

Last night we were invited for dinner over at the Holland team's house. They are a group of two doctors, a nurse, a social worker and a psychologist sent by Doctors of the World Holland to work at the medical points in Moria.

Did you ever had to say goodbye to someone whilst knowing that if you didn't have to be apart, you would become best friends?
I admire these people and I wanted to be around them for days to come. They inspired me to follow something I have been thinking about for a while and I observed them closely to learn about their easy way to make someone feel safe and cared for.
I've grown very fond of them (aka I really really like them!).

I used to think of doctors and nurses as real life super heroes. But since I met the Doctors of the World team I realised that it's actually very mean to call them that.
Super heroes were only 'super' because they had super powers! These guys are awesome even though they don't have super powers! They are normal people that push themselves to be amazing.
And hey, let's not mention how easy going, compassionate and nice they all are!
I was thinking about all of this while having dinner and I knew that this was going to be the hardest part about leaving: you arrive to a new place without knowing anyone. You get a taxi from the airport to some weird ass room. And when it comes to leave, the longer you stay the harder it gets. You hug people goodbye. You hug them for 3 seconds, you hug some for way longer and you don't want to let go. You don't get the public transport to the airport. Someone takes you and during the whole ride you think about how hard it will be to say goodbye.

To be continued.

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