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BLOG LESVOS | A glimpse of the camp

It is just before 8 o’clock if we pass the police at the camp entrance. Quick hang the batch so they can see that we belong with EuroRelief and that we have a reason to enter the camp.

It is quit in the camp. The only inhabitants we see are some schoolkids and a few men and woman with a jerrycan water.

You cannot miss Eurorelief in the camp. Just follow the volunteers from various countries like USA, Germany, France, Spain, Swiss, Austria and The Netherlands. Especially the Mennonites are very recognizable, women are wearing caps and long skirts and dresses.

Before starting the job we have a day opening in which we sing, read the Bible and pray. It keeps very special to hear these sounds as one from all different nationalities:

'Fill this land with the Father's glory

Blaze, Spirit, blaze

Set our hearts on fire

Flow, river, flow

Flood the nations with grace and mercy

Send forth Your word

Lord, and let there be light'.

I hope this is a testimony for all the people in the camp. Also for ourselves this is a connection to start the day with. Especially when we feel weak we known that God is doing what He says: My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness’’. We notice that energy is given to us to bear the heat. Special to see the strength of the prayer. God is faithful.

We’ve heard the stories that some Afghans have come to faith and being baptized in the recent past. To know that they almost have no connection in their home country with the Christion religion it is wonderful to see how God led their lives. Normally they would not have the change back in Afghanistan to hear about Jesus, but because they are now in Greece, they get to know Him!

The camp looks like a small village. Between the tents are lines to dry washed clothes and some people even build a veranda. At the tent entrances are prams, they are used for everything! The Afghans are the biggest group but you’ll also find Syrians, Somalians and Congolese. The camp is divided in some coloured zones. The nationalities are put together to avoid friction.

We are staring our shift. Today’s honour is handing out tickets to women, with another volunteer. Tickets can be changed for hygiene articles. When we come by the first then we shout: ‘Salaam, this is EuroRelief!’ On the list we see that this woman is coming from Afghanistan. By greeting in their home language you make a faster connection. They really appreciate when you try to speak some words in Farsi, Arabic or French.

The woman is opening her tent with a sleepy face. It is 9 am and the day is long enough, why waking up early? On top of that, the night are really hot and the vans also do not really cool it down. The sun is shining on the tent the whole day, what makes the temperature rising fast.

We ask: ‘How are you?’ and she replies in her best English: ‘Good and you’. After some small talk we ask her police papers to be sure that we hand out the tickets to the right person. I can imagine that they get crazy for showing these papers so often. After handing out the tickets we greet with: ‘Gohdaahaafez’ what means ‘See you’ in Farsi.

At the next tent we see a family sitting in a circle with tea and bread. We’re getting invited to join. 'Hello my friend, come.. come. The hospitality and being together are central in the Afghan culture. We take off our shoes while entering the tent. They offer us Chai tea and fresh bread. In the meanwhile we try to have a conversation. Our hosts don’t speak good English and we use Google Translate to get along. If we are sitting down their son and his friend coming in. He tries to tell something in English. Kids are having English class at school. They usually be there a couple of hours per day.

The father is telling about ‘moes’. We don’t understand what he means, but with some help from hands and feet we found out that he means ‘mouse’. This family had mouses under their floor last night. This happens quite often. This week we also hear a story from a small boy which was bitten by a rat. This environment on top of all these people have already been gone thru.

After a half hour it is time to move on with our ticket round. After one week I know how to say thanks in Farsi: ‘Tashakor’.

Slowly the camp is coming to life. Trucks are coming and going and causes a lot of dust, but they improve the ways in the camp. At 1230 we decide to have a break. I went to an Aghan couple which is painting. You can buy canvas paintings or painted bags. So special to see these people at work. Their tent looks like a gallery! Some paintings are reflecting on the life in the camp, also by symbolics. Very creative!

In the meetings we hear a lot of stories. Like from a young Syrian women who is here alone with some kids. She lost her husband, mother and family. She tells us that she just her 4th rejection on her asylum application. She have no possibilities for appeal. She don’t know where to go 'Greece not good, Turkey not good and Syria not good'. This kind of situations causes a lot of stress.

In this meeting the label ‘refugee’ falls away and you have a meeting from human to human. Differences in culture and descent are getting to the background. At the end of our shift I notice that it’s not in the big things but just the small things that make a difference in life. A smile, a greet. In that we try to show something from Him who is the Light of the World.

Will you pray from the people in the camp and the volunteers?

My thoughts are going to that day. The day that there is a big crowd, nobody can count, from all nations, folks and languages, standing before the throne and the Lamp. I hope, pray and believe that also a lot of Afghans, Syrians, Somalians and Congolese will be there!

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