We met up with Omar this morning and he took us to see the Happy Family project – Wow – a great ngo based in Switzerland. They are trying to provide some normalcy to the refugees. They provide meals for up to 800 a day, they have a gym, a toddler play space, coffee/tea, a place to play games. They also have a barber, tailor, legal clinic and the German medical ngo Docmobile has clinic space there. They are treating sometimes 150 people a day out a 3 room shed turned into a clinic.
I also met Sherif, a Syrian from the UK, running a food project called Sultana. They drove a full-size luxury bus converted into a food kitchen from the UK to Greece.
The bus feeds a hot meal to 3-400 people three days a week, He told me they could feed more, but need more funds and volunteers. Today he was cooking cauliflower, potatoes, rice and tomato pasta. Smelled wonderful. Apparently the Moira camp has no hot food program and distributes what looks like military rations. The people all say the food is terrible and so this hot delicious food is coveted, hence the registration system. Omar has this at the warehouse too, these programs cannot serve everyone everyday.
We delivered all our donations of new underwear, warm fleeces, toothbrushes to the warehouse. 150 people were served today, so many of them got new underwear or a toasty fleece. Today was really cold. By noon we were outside the Moira camp and did what I can only describe as “gorilla medicine.”
We started with a tent visit to see an Iraqi man with a leg injury, it was bad. We undressed his wound and there was an obvious bone infection. Mark kept asking the translator to ask him how this happened. And the man kept saying something we finally concluded was “kaliznakof” — a Russian gun and that he was shot in the legs. That explained the holes in his leg. He also complained about the soles of his feet. We found out that while in an Iraqi prison, he was torurtured , the soles of his feet beaten.
It took only minutes for the word to be out that there was a Doctor. Several men came into the tent and people were standing outside. We decided the safest was to work out of the van and so we did. We folded up the back seats and used it as a counter. Tama did pharmacy from the middle seat. Karen was tasked with finding and delivering supplies. I triaged and Mark saw patients by the back door of the van, examining people in the back of the van while Brian kept the van running for a bit of heat and primarily as our safety net – if there was any unrest we could just jump in, close the doors and leave.
It seemed fine though today. People were grateful, somewhat patient, absolutely no sign of unrest or danger. But we heard stories, so many of these people have suffered unimaginable physical and mental abuses. There is so much ptsd, the greatest unmet medical need is for mental health. Some people have just gone crazy. We saw 28 patients and then the crowd was getting too big and the wind was blowing really cold. We gave out index cards with numbers and promised to return tomorrow.
We ended our gorilla clinic and did one more tent call, a 26 year old Syrian man had pneumonia and both ears were infected. He lived in a summer tent with 13 other people, sleeping on the floor in a light weight sleeping bag. I looked around the tent, there were such meager possessions, only day packs, unfull. Mark gave the man antibiotics and I gave him a liter of water.
There are people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, Camaroon, Republic of Congo. There
are over 65 million refugees in the world. This camp set up for 1500 now houses over 7000. It is unmanageable, bleak and surrounded by high wire fences. Women and children and families in metal boxes with only 2 showers. Toilets overflowing — just horrible conditions. Outside the tent in the olive groves are mostly men, some women and families, the overflow in overcrowded summer tents with UNHCR tarps. Medicines Without Borders has a tent outside the camp where they are doing kids and pregnant women and they are overwhelmed. We will visit with them today. It just seems there is not enough of anything and people have to queue up for food, medical care, clothing and not everyone gets what they need in a day but has to wait several days for anything. That is where the danger lies. People are desperate.
What did we learn????
Stay in the immediate, treat the immediate.
The challenge of balancing the heart with the task.
The need to stay centered. Breathing taking the breath and going on.
Translators essential and the challenges are the many languages.
Maintaining situational awareness for safety.
Essential team agreements. If one person says there is a situation or discomfort we accept this immediately, act and discuss later.
Finally back in the comfort of our bnb, how privileged we are, discussing the logistics of our gorilla medicine in a van and realizing that after the first 23 ptsd we were finding the rhythm. We are ready to do it again. We will limit the number of people we see each day, see emergencies and just continue.