We were a bit slow to start this morning and when we arrived 30 min late we had people waiting. We were really happy to see the Africans waiting to see us. Most are from the Congo and Cameroon, some from Senegal, Eritrea, Gambia, and Sudan. Brian is fluent in French and they really liked speaking to him. Their stories were of torture and beatings as almost everyone in the camp. The Africans seem to have the hardest time and they stick together I don’t see much interaction between the Africans and Arabs.
What really shocks us all is the number of repressive regimes that people are fleeing from. It just feels like the world is in such chaos.
Today was a long day. We saw 80+ patients. People kept coming and our gorilla van was surrounded. It was hard to keep people back, they were on top of Mark in the back of the van. Brian was trying to manage and hold the line. It was difficult. At one point there was some mild arguments between the Africans and the Arabs about the line. Most were understanding but it was the stress of another line waiting for a service. And how nice for them when they finally get to Mark and he asks “How can I serve you?” Our translator was a lovely Syrian man in his early 50’s who was a professor of Literature who taught English. He was so gentle and helpful. I don’t know more of his story because we worked so long today.
A young man in his twenties came to see us. He had previous heart surgery, he was so weak, he was tachcadic, sad and alone. I wonder if he will make it through this experience. So hard to make sense of this sufferring.
And an elder woman who was brought by her daughter. She had huge lymph nodes and Mark thought this could be lymphoma. Will she at the end of her life be a homeless refugee?
On the other end of that we saw a pregnant woman, maybe 8 months pregnant. Where will her baby be born? There are apparently many pregnant woman living inside the wire.
On the other side of the camp Medicines San Borders runs a clinic for women and kids, especially pregnant woman. They also have a sexual violence program. Apparently there are incidences of rape and violence towards women in the camp. I have not seen any of that.
We saw many more children today, most with just colds, viruses a few with pneumonia. One sweet little 8 month old had a big infection on his face. People love their children. And despite this situation the children were cared for as best they could be. Thanks to Omar’s Refugee for Refugees, they had shoes and sweaters and coats. The babies were wrapped in warm blankets.
We met up with Omar and he told us he had 150 beds he wanted to deliver to the olive grove camp but the mayor would not let him. People are sleeping inside the tents on the cold ground. It is forecasted to rain in 2 days – how will they stay dry? I didn’t understand what the issue was but the beds are not being distributed today.
Showing up here is really important. Letting people know we are here for them, that we care about them, we know they are here. And to let them tell us their stories.
Today we were so busy there were only snippets of stories and later we tried to put them together. We again are too tired to go back to the camp tonight. This work is really exhausting. We joke about ourselves being the oldest relief workers here. The boys and younger men call us Mom.
I admit I am stuck in the appalling conditions for these fellow human beings but what I have not been portraying is that this is freedom for them. Freedom from political prisons, bombs blasting, war, repressive regimes, realities where they constantly fear for their lives. I think there is a relief for them in being here. Although this Moria camp is often referred to as a prison. And they have hope it is short term. What lies ahead for them I don’t know. I see the process is slow and some get deported back. When we go to Athens to work with Docmobile we will see the next step,