Recounted: Refugee Camps
Today was one for the books.
I spent the entire day at the camp, into the night. This brand new camp hit the 2,000 mark today, which is celebrated compared to the 15,000+ that are currently waning, aching to survive the tragedy that is called Idomeni (the Greece/Macedonia border).
I was able to have dozens of conversations today with Afghans, Syrians, and Iraqis, which made my heart come alive and was a great opportunity for me to practice Farsi and Arabic. I also spent a large portion of my morning with children, bringing some joy. Kurdish, Iraqi, Syrian, Afghan refugee children all frolicking together as one, too young to realize that their peoples do not get along. The blissful and innocent state of naiveness spoke volumes even to onlookers as this ‘even more undignified than this’ conglomeration of ethnicities danced rather than clashed together today.
I was invited into a Syrian family’s tent (see previous post). I also spent a large portion of my day with a Syrian Kurdish family, treated as their own. I sat by a fire in the night with a family from Aleppo, as they told me their gut wrenching story of bombs, snipers, drownings, and war. I heard more stories than I can possibly count of beheadings and the way that these people’s lives crumbled under the weight of bombshells and evil. I acted as a liaison for the refugees, helping them as they came to me for help. I was so very humbled. Even now they suffer in conditions that are unthinkable.
I didn’t want to only take, so I did what I could to give back. I gave them several polaroids of their family as a keepsake, since they were forced to leave Syria without the opportunity to bring precious photos with them. By the awe upon their faces as they gawked at the photos, which they held so tenderly in their palms, I could tell that these small tokens of mere paper and ink meant something to them that just can’t be translated.
Today, there were planned to be 2 buses full of refugees being relocated from Idomeni to the camp I am serving in, Diavata. One bus arrived around 3, with about 55+ people. I was able to escort these people to get food and blankets before being led to their tent, which will now serve as their permentate home for the next foreseeable months.
Once the other bus arrived, however, the refugees refused to get off the bus, as they were promised that they would be going to a ‘hotel’ by someone. When they realized that in fact they weren’t being dropped off at a hotel, but into another camp, they refused to get off. The sad reality is that they will be going back to Idomeni, which is the worst thing that could happen. These people have not only undergone unfathomable amounts of trauma, but they are now being gravely mistreated and lied to, then left to dwell inside dangerous and frankly unlivable corridors–with no where to go back to and no where to advance forward to.
Today the goodness of Jesus and the gospel was shared! Hallelujah.