GREECE UPDATE #2
Oh dear, what a fun-story filled few days we have had.
We got in the car on our way to our early morning shift we thanked god and said:
ANOTHER DAY.... (Pause).... another day?
So far I feel like that’s the ideal mindset to have while in camp. Taking it day by day remembering that new boats arrive & people who have been waiting months are also waiting another day to leave as well.
Our class has been doing a variety of different tasks & responsibilities.
In camp we work 8 ish (let’s go with 9 to be honest) hours some of us guard gates that are protecting vulnerable families & single women. Those sections are guarded 24/7 and you’d be surprised at how many people try to get in who aren’t allowed in and know it. Some of our guys have had those gate overnight shifts. There is some joy in that because the kids love to climb all over us, and to play games.
During the day some of us also work in the warehouse where they make packages or clothes for the new arrivals. Cortney described it as: organizing a super messy closet! Good thing our team kills it at organizing and pairing outfits. That is the first thing that gets handed to the refugees as most of them arrive and are wet from the boat crossing.
Speaking of boat. The one we live on... I actually don’t feel it rocking at night. Some
of us had some nice handfuls of gravol but that was from a mix of things such as the long travel, different country foods & drinks mixed with the boat sways.
More about the camp itself:
It’s a military base so the most we can do is stop & take mental pictures with our eyes haha..
You can google it, half the people in camp are on their phones and have posted videos online.
People sleep in different types of “housing”. You can imagine that trying to find space for a camp that is double it’s capacity is hard.. try like. Triple. That’s what it feels like when I walk around.
Stopping in Lesvos was supposed to be temporary for refugees until they get documents to go to Athens, unfortunately months go by and they are still waiting. That is why the camp initially had tents. They then added things that resemble school portables who also have become overpacked.
It seems brutal for families. “No room at the inn” is an understatement for the pregnant woman in camp. (I feels like 6/10 women I house are pregnant or have a new born under a year old) it’s literally impossible to accommodate everyone’s needs and... that is why they “hate us”.
Back to what we do during the day.
We count! The population of Moria is definitely growing, but it is important that we check their housing everyday Incase people have left, or people have attempted to move into a space that a family who just arrived is meant to go in.
Josh is so great at census, the guys for some reason don’t mind him knocking at the door compared to when us girls go. When we are friendly like him they just chat and it just makes the process easier, they don’t resist to showing us their cards then we are on our way to the next place.
What is funny is that I definitely have had people lie to me saying someone is sleeping in a bed in their room and then I find out from a different person that there is in fact a space but they couldn’t speak up in the presence of the rest of the room so they wanted to secretly tell me.
One of the hardest jobs we have had to do is breaking the news to people that are already tight on space that they have to make room for an incoming family who have been waiting since they got off the boat.
Day one Victor & Blayd has got assigned this task and I thanked God I wasn’t in their shoes.
You can imagine the anger and resistance that happens when we tell them they have no choice the family is on their way.
They call it “fighting ISO boxes” for a reason ...
If you think that’s hard, one of the other things we have to do is take down tents that people have purchased and set up in spots that have been assigned for future large tent building. When the time comes for our new tent to be built we not choice but to tear down their “little home” which also does not go well.
When it gets bad sometimes we ask the police to help...
STAY IN SCHOOL KIDS & LEARN A SECOND LANGUAGE.
If anything. I should have been studying Arabic this entire year, I would get yelled at a lot less.
There are a handful of us in the group who have knowledge in French! Translating has been my favourite part because it cuts time to answer a very simple question or request in half. The other day I spent 4 hours following the community representative of the Congo people as he tried to find housing for the new arrivals just relaying what he was saying to our organization leaders. Other times we get to speak French while standing at the info centre. People come for a variety of things, to ask questions or for supplies that we are critically low on or never even offered to start with.
I have learnt to say:
“Sorry we don’t have”
“Can I see your papers or ID Card”
“Sorry I speak English”
“Thank you & goodbye ”
In a few languages haha.
I was shocked. I walked by some of our guys who guard the gates and I swear I heard them speaking Arabic or Farsi. I was so proud! I guess We are learning the basic Moria key phrases.
There are times at the info desk where all the person really wants is to hang out and learn some English words to assist other people or for future use. One of the hardest words for them to figure out how to communicate is “tarp”.
Which we have very limited numbers of. Not knowing who and how many will arrive next means we are low on...everything 🙈.
I started making a list of the moments or things I did during the day because by the end it all sort of feels like a blur - I have no idea what day of the week. The perks of doing a day shift the when so many Congolese people arrived has meant I got to create some cool relationships with the women who are now in the vulnerable section.
Victor jokes that Kassie & I must be “in another camp” because we have so many fun moments with the people around Moria. But Hey, I also shovelled lots of sewage water today.
We played some INTENSE volleyball. One of my vball team members was a teen who wanted nothing to do with me yesterday because I moved his family, he surprisingly went from insulting us in his language to high fiving us for our serves. (No big deal, that’s what I call progress)
The best thing I have been asked to do so far is handing out little slips that say their paperwork went through and they are going to Athens. (Bye bye camp). One lady was so excited she cried, kissed us - then I cried lol.
One of my new friends in the vulnerable section told me the reason they were celebrating was because one woman was leaving. African celebrations are no joke. Singing, dancing, scarf waving and wine.
( I said no - don’t worry!) as they sent off their friend in hopes for a better life.
Blayd was guarding the gate and I know he really thought it was cool to see that little bit of joy and light first hand!
It’s nice to give them some hope with those slips of paper then I would ask how long they’ve been living in Moria, but it’s also tricky because people see us handing out the papers and ask “when me Athena?” My heart breaks when I have to say I really don’t know.
Yes. There is SO much hurt,
Sex trafficking, arguing, anger towards volunteers etc. But these are regular people (some engineers, doctors and business men) just trying to survive and provide for their people as they wait. They don’t mind a little smile, hello or even just attempting to help or hear them out which our group excels at!
Some women gave us love & marriage advice. Some of it was quite interesting but it ended with hugs and them saying we need to trust God during our single years.
They are counting down the days until our group leaves because they love everyone from Canada. Honestly saying you’re from Canada has come In handy for us. Kids stop pretending to shoot us with their hands when I say I’m from Canada not America.
“Canada good.” They say.
Wow, That was a long update but like I said so much happens and we have 14 different perspectives and stories amongst our team which will be so fun to hear about.
Ok, Things you can pray for:
Energy & perseverance: long hours overnight or in the sun are hard.
Safety: not trying so scare you but that’s the truth, we are doing things that could potentially put us in danger.
For the people in camp: Madi mentioned to pray on behalf of them!!
That’s all for now my friends :),
The internet is so slow so I use it pretty quickly & for limited amounts of time. Feel free to Facebook message me some updates on what’s going on back home, because loading anything on Instagram is painful.
talk to you soon,