When a train takes much longer and it is hot, it goes without saying that water is dispensed.
If there is a storm in a village in Germany and houses are flooded, the fire brigade feels responsible to help.
If there is a storm in a village in Germany and houses are flooded, the fire brigade naturally feels responsible to help. If someone falls over on the street or in a supermarket, an ambulance arrives within a few minutes. Access to water in the hospital is the most normal thing in the world and anything else would be bizarre. When a child starves, a wealthier person feels responsible to give everything possible to save a life. It goes without saying that families with newborn children cannot live in a tent without access to water or food, money or clothes. In Europe. Here: it is against every human right and against every understanding of equality and morality that Europe so adorns itself with. There was a storm, quite heavy rain. I wake up in the morning and it is fresh. On the terrace I want to take my clean clothes off the leash, everything wet and cold, crap. Still drunk asleep I leave the apartment, on the way I order coffee to the laundry where I meet Sarah and then go up to camp. Distribute tickets to the laundry. Since so many new people have arrived in the last weeks and the number of people in the camp has increased by another 1000 (which alone exceeds the actual capacity of the camp), we had to develop a new concept. New arrivals often bring dripping laundry from the boat trip, or were not able to wash laundry for ages on the run. On the other hand, we currently need more than two months to wash the whole camp laundry, also an eternity.
Due to the rain that penetrates each of these single layer summer tents, pretty much everyone’s clothes are wet. In a meeting we try to find a solution, there is none. It’s horrible either way.
The rain that pours through each of these single-ply summer tents makes pretty much everyone’s clothes wet. In a meeting we try to find a solution, there is none. It’s horrible either way. Just be precise, nobody double wash their laundry. So today we go to “extended area 2”, also called “the jungle” by the residents. The road leading to the camp separates two areas on the mountain. Above tents are squeezed close to each other, this area has been overcrowded for a long time. Almost exclusively Africans live here. The lower area is wider, less protected and stonier. Here live mainly Afghans and Iranians, many families. The Kidsactivities and the morning reading circle are also taking place here at the moment. There are no toilets and no access to water. Most of the tents are self-purchased tents from the “Chinashop”. They are the same, colorful, single-layer summer tents. Here and there you will find a pile of garbage, an area that was clearly designated as a toilet or an outdoor living room consisting of a tarpaulin, an old sofa and cardboard carpet, a clothesline, children playing the most exciting game amidst the garbage. We walk up silently, freezing people come towards us. Unlike usual so early in the morning, the whole camp seems to have been awake for hours. Arriving at the top, we take the exit to that “jungle”. Many people on the way stop us, the storm, the rain, the tent, it’s terrible and so cold. Can we please issue a ticket? Just a bag, just a sleeping bag. No, we can’t, we’re sorry, we have to say and walk on.
It is indeed cold, I wear all the warm clothes I have, a scarf, a hood and sturdy shoes and the wind goes through everything.
At the moment we are alternately in the African area and the Afghan area where the new arrivals are. We are quickly surrounded by French-speaking men and two women. Sarah is fluent in French, so she does most of the communication. She is sorry, she says, but she must ask everyone to form a snake. We are all laughing because they see that we are different and they do not want to work them off like an assembly line, they will all be treated the same and everyone gets there until we let them know that we have to come back the next day.
People tremble, pointing at the tents, some of which are completely torn apart, taken apart by the wind. They shake their heads, still smile, make jokes about the absurdity.
Every day the people impress me again with their warm nature, patience, understanding and humour.
We are surprised that not everyone goes crazy. People gather in groups, it looks like plans are being made how to build a home by evening without money and resources. Sarah and I walk around trying to secretly capture these images as evidence to show them to everyone. A crowd of children comes towards me, about 15 boys aged 3 to 12. They
call “Malaka, Malaka, Malaka”, the Greek swear word everyone here knows.
I write to the Kidsactivities group why there is no reading circle. In the morning everyone was gathered at the place and clearly busy with other things, they had to turn around. A bunch of people gather around us, in French I can understand a few rags, that’s not normal they say again and again, that’s not human.
“Why don’t they just let us leave this island? We are not animals.
Why don’t they just let us leave this island? We are not animals. That’s not normal, is it? We assure them that nothing is normal here. That it is not human and that they are more than entitled to get upset about it. A man calmly explains to me that the problems would be solved if the borders were simply opened. What is so difficult about that? A newcomer, Congolese, whom I met a few days ago with his fifteen-year-old brother in the Alpha Centre, comes to me. Now we have also lost the tent and no money for a new one. No dry clothes and no food. Nothing, but it’s okay. No big problem, he says with a smile on his lips. All I can offer you is a warm cup of tea, warm up, I say. I am so sorry, they thank you.
In the evening I talk to an Iranian psychologist, he says that he now has to wait for the next month, until the monthly 90 euros come, to then buy the third tent here on Samos. He says he’s okay. He says he’s an adult man, he’s stable and can do a lot of things. He just can’t imagine how the families are doing. He can’t imagine what it’s like to lie in a tent with your child in your arms and hear the storm. What do you do then? What do the children do? The damage is so great, that’s not okay, pregnant women, children of all ages. It’s not okay, but he can handle it, no problem.
“Ali Reza is sitting between us waiting for his daddy. A boy about seven years old, as old as my brother, as gentle and bold as he is. I know that he also lives in “Djungle”.”
Ali Reza is sitting between us waiting for his daddy. A boy about seven years old, as old as my brother, as gentle and bold as he is. I know that he also lives in “Djungle”.
Later, Irshad, a Pakistani community volunteer, tells me that around 200 people have gathered in front of the camp management’s office and are on a sit-in strike.
What exactly can I not find out for, his English is bumpy, but I can imagine it.
“Five hours of food queuing and not enough food for everyone, no tent serving, no blankets, no clothes to be served, all toilets in the camp are broken, everything is overcrowded and you (the camp staff) decided a few days ago that people outside the fence in the extended area are not allowed to “smuggle” water canisters out of the camp.
Five hours of food queuing and not enough food for everyone, no tent serving, no blankets, no clothes to be served, all toilets in the camp are broken, everything is overcrowded and you (the camp staff) decided a few days ago that people outside the fence in the extended area are not allowed to “smuggle” water canisters out of the camp. I don’t have the words.
At home some volunteers gather in the kitchen of a shared flat. Also a volunteer of the medical team. She is an Englishwoman with Iranian roots and translates. She tells that she was in hospital today. With a baby and its father, the baby has had fever for days and the medical team no longer had a certain drug. She tells that the nurses in the hospital complain why he didn’t show up for his appointment. She remains calm and explains that he can’t understand Greek, let alone read it, so he didn’t know he had an appointment.
“She explains that the baby needs medicine. And quickly. You have to wait hours.
She explains that the baby needs medicine. And fast. You have to wait hours. At some point they get to it. The doctor gives the medicine to the voluntary doctor.
Meanwhile she gives the child a small dose of paracetamol as the fever rises again. The doctor yells at the volunteer.