Our mornings are spent sitting on the balcony, looking out at the sea. An our or so of peace and quiet. A time to sort the things we have seen.
Today was a hygiene distribution. We’d gone to the 1 Euro store to purchase: deodorant mens/women’s, toothpaste (no need to purchase toothbrushes as our dentist Dr. John Harmon amazingly donated 465 toothbrushes!) , washing powder, pads, razors, sponges, shampoo and body wash yesterday and to day we met at the container area to load our vans.
Yesterday 3 of the interpreters/refugees who live in Vial went out into the 2 of the 4 areas and handed out 100 tickets to new arrivals. This could be a single man or woman or a family of 6, each equaled a ticket.
We arrived on the dirt road down the hill from the camp at almost 11:00am for the 11:00am distribution. There were 5 of us in the CTF-Team 60, a new volunteer from Norway and the 6 interpreters who we’ve been working with all week. Janne held a quick meeting, everyone went over their jobs.
I settled into the chair next to Janne to help her with inputting the info into her computer so that she can keep track that there is no duplicating of aid going out. Up the hill we can see one of the volunteers with about 4-6 people, waiting. We give a wave and they send the person/family down to us.
Handed to me are either the individual cards from the Greek government or the papers that are given to brand new arrivals. A 6 digit number is what Janne enters into her computer and I look/shuffle through the sheets of paper finding out if there is a wife or husband, any kids, ages of the kids. Sometimes there is an interpreter available to help, but with so many languages being spoken I often point to my left hand and wedding band to see if they are married, and mime rocking a baby to see if there are babies. Fingers are held up to tell the ages of the kids.
It’s a trail of humanity that stands in front of our little table. Our team had purchased 2 new stools for us to sit on so we had the other stool available for people to sit on if they wanted to. Tired moms, a grandpa with a crutch and sometimes little kids were on the stool. Janne and I make sure to make a connection, even if so very small, to everyone. Oohing at baby, smiling at their picture…….letting them know that we see them. Not just their number.
A couple hours into the day the stapled papers of new arrival was put in front of me. Smiling I looked up. A boy stood before me. A child. I quickly looked to see if there were more papers then the 2 assigned to every person. No, just 2 pages. He was alone.
I flipped to the 2nd page and held it up to Janne so she could input his name. I quickly scanned the sheet for his birthday. Did the math. He was 13. An unaccompanied minor. Alone.
What kind of world do we live in that a mother sends a child across countries in search of a better life? Or is there not a mother and the child see’s moving forward the only way to stay alive?
One of the interpreters came to sit on the stool near the end of distribution. He said “150”. “150 what” Janne asked. “150 people arrived last night” was his reply. It is as if a water hose has been turned up this past week. Instead of water, humanity. Men, women and children.
With so many new arrival Janne had us do an inventory at the container area, she ordered more hygiene items that we will pick up in the morning. Tomorrow we will double our distribution to 200.
It rained last night, we awoke to images on our phones sent to us from inside the camp of water running through the tents, between the buildings. Puddles the size of cars. We knew that most of those 150 people who arrived last night slept on the hard ground. No beds- just rivers of water. Rivers of misery.