We learned a lot our first day here and learned there is much to unravel ahead to understand the complexity of it all. Maneuvered the flight, upgrading to a van, visit to the local police station to register, met up with Omar in the morning and drove to Skila in the north.
Our discussions with Omar started to make the situation clear and the unique dangers. He is an amazing 23 year old man who swam from Turkey to Greece, made it to Germany and then returned here to form the ngo Refugee for Refugees. He works tirelessly. We drove to Skila – a really cozy little old town – beautiful drive to the north of the island. The sea is so blue,
The sea is very turbulent these days and it is cold. No snow but chilling, boats are not coming now. So we are going to work at the Moria camp or rather outside the camp where the overflow is. The camp has over 7,000 people and was built for 2,500. Outside the camp are summer tents – hundreds of them with families living in them and people camping in the olive groves. These are the people that have fallen through every crack in the universe, they have nothing. And they have nowhere to go.
There is a huge tent, bigger than a banquet tent, that houses the Africans. They are trapped and have been living 150 people in this tent for over three years. There are ethnic clusters: Iraqi, Iranian, Kurdish, Afghani, Syrian.
Omar was going to set up a medical tent for us but he is concerned about our safety. He thought many hundreds of people could show up. He said if people come and think they are not going to be seen or get medicines there could be a riot. We talked about having 10 refugee volunteers as our security. We are discussing how to see patients. We think we may go tent to tent with backpacks of medicines and our trauma bag, carry what we need and refill from the van. Karen and Brian will do physio and massage together but we are meeting with docmobile first thing tomorrow and may work with them in their mobile van. That would be best. We have discussed and agreed to safety awareness and planned meeting place if we got separated or there was any unrest.
We are talking about protecting our hearts so we can do this work. It is really devastating to see this end of the human spectrum — who are these refugees? I hope we get to hear some stories of who they are and what their life was. What happens when your world disintegrates, literally. It is a much more dangerous situation then we imagined. The desperation . . . .
I am having some waves of fatigue, too much to process and too much work to do to get caught up in the process. We will do what we can. We all have recommitted to this. Our situational awareness is heightened and our hearts are open.
We are in a sweet apartment in Mytiliene and will look for a house to rent in the hills We hear they are really nice really cheap and 15 min from the camp. Our first world problem is it is almost 10 pm and there is no milk for morning coffee.