New blog | Myrthe on Lesvos
We’ve done so many things since the three weeks that I’m working in the camp, it feels that I’m here much longer. Handing out shoes, dancing with an Afghan family, invited to have Syrian food and hearing a lot of stories, you name it…
My respect for the people who live in the camp is growing every day. Some are living here for a few months, others already more than two years. Here live young families which are rejected already twice or more. Youth who don’t see a future ahead of them. Lone mothers who must go back to their homeland again.
The first days I had the feeling of walking in a warzone. From my well trusted bubble in The Netherlands to this completely unknown world. I knew the camp from the news and the stories of relatives who went here before. I didn’t and don’t understand how the people keep hanging on for so many years.
6000 humans lived in the camp three weeks ago. This week I heard that the camp have now 4600 inhabitants. A lot of refugees left the camp the last few weeks, they are underway to Germany, France or Athens. Legal or illegal. There is now a lot of throughput in the camp and not many people are coming in. The camp is a village on his. A barber is giving haircuts for free, food shops are selling their stuff and even handmade paintings and bags are for sale in the camp. The camp is actually a working village under inhuman circumstances.
This story of a young men really moved my. During our lunch break with a few volunteers we had a conversation about the fact that there is a lot of lies about peoples living. People are moving in the camp but room or tent mates don’t let us know that there is new room available in the tent or rubhall. A young men joined us in the conversation and asked us if we know why people lied about this. Calm and friendly he explained that if new people joined the tent or rubhall often stuff like phone or ID card are stolen. As long as you live with people you trust, you know that your goods are more or less safe. He also told us that there is no privacy, people are living too close together and that irritations occur often. We asked where he came from, he had worked in Afghanistan as journalist and he had to write articles for the government. If he refused to do that, he would be killed. A lot of his colleagues are murdered because they didn’t do what the government asked them to do. There is a lot of corruption in Afghanistan and no freedom of speak. He did not see his family in months. This were silenced and didn’t know how to react. A young men, end twenties, told relaxed his life story. A story we cannot imagine.
A lot of Syrian refugees heard this week that they definitive have to leave the camp. Back to Syria or Turkey. I was sitting next to an 18 year old girl who just got this news, she was sad and shocked. She asked us what she had to do.. "Turkey no good, Syria no good, Greece no good." They also do not have a future in Turkey because they will not get a passport. No rights on a job or income. Many are living on the streets. This girl will not receive normal education, she don’t know if she ever can study.
Things which are very normal to me will be never normal for her.
However thru all this, you see much beauty in the camp. Little kids are happy with a balloon. Hanging out with little cats and play with everything they see. Neighbours who become family and help and support each other. "Eurorelief is good, my friend." People are thankful for the little things they receive. It is very great to see that if you have visited a family one day, they recognize you the next day and invite you for tea again. They appreciate the regularly visits and the fact that you listen to them. The people are very hospitable, it doesn’t matter how long they have waited in the food line, if you pass by, you have to eat the just received croissant and banana.
The people in the camp have learning me respect and thankfulness. Living from day to day, hoping for the day they will receive a 'positive decision'. So many people together, with all their own story and trauma. We can learn so much of them.