4 shifts left!!!! **tear**
I am finally taking a second to write and I cannot believe that I only have 4 shifts left! 😩 That seems so unbelievably crazy to me. Its been a full few weeks and gotten to the point where in many ways I feel like this place is a part of me. The work is exhausting both physically and emotionally but the people and the community that comes with it are equally beautiful and fulfilling.
|Mytilene, Lesvos, Greece|
In most of my travels it's the dichotomy of the situations I get myself into that often impact me the most and Greece has been no exception. Here we have this beautiful country with thrilling landscapes around every corner and in the middle of it all is the Moria Refugee Camp, a military base and very prisonesque, which now houses 2,000ish men from around the world as they anxiously await their decision on asylum, a place many were told would be a few day stop on their journey but has become their home for months, and a place where hope gradually and continually deteriorates.
I haven't posted a lot unfortunately mostly because I come home exhausted and get up with just enough time to hit the pavement for another day. But partially because being here has required a lot of processing and I want to be careful not to unintentionally paint a darker picture of the experience than it deserves. Like most things in life it is often easier to lose sight of the great things that are occurring as they fade behind the issues we face.
My role at EuroRelief is different everyday it seems which is a bit of an adventure in itself but lets me see if I can list a few of the more dominant roles I have played.
- Security - My first days and a couple times this last week I spent watching gates, this is just a security tool for the residents making sure that people who aren't housed on the level aren't getting on, it also means distributing food to the different rooms, but mostly it is just hanging out with the guys, speaking broken english/farsi/arabic/french etc and laughing at their antics. I also find this a great opportunity to set spiritual atmosphere and in my heart I pray hope over each of them as they come in and out of the gate. Its also often super quiet so I get a lot of reflection here too. It can also be a bit crazy as people get moved around.
- Driver - For a time I was the only volunteer with an international license so that kind of solidified me in my role as a main driver for the volunteers. It adds time to my day which if you've been here would likely have heard me complain about, and if you're doddling at the end of your shift have likely experienced #GrumpyDave but all in all the role really added to my experience. I get to spend time with most of Euro's volunteers and as a result have seen the awesome hearts and spirits of these people who are truly an exceptional bunch.
- Warehouse personnel - sounds fancy but really I just move boxes, and boxes, and boxes, oh and then some pallets :-P Managing clothing is one of EuroReliefs roles on the camp and in the ever continuing efforts to improve processes they have been doing a lot of work with organizing the donations they receive. And then in the middle of it all they received 24 pallets of winter gear and have to sort what is worth keeping for next year (as it is spring here now) and what to get rid of. Let me tell ya that was a fun few days haha but with a view like below its tough to complain too much.
View from on top of EuroRelief warehouse
- Info Staff - Sounds simple... hahaha not so much, this is where daily random adventures begin. Yes it can be slow at times but more often than not the words "I need someone for a job" ring out from the shift leader and you get drafted in for an adventure. Usually it involves moving people from one housing unit to another or checking some simple information or tracking down a resident other times the adventure is much greater. One of my favourites was the distribution of 120ish bunkbeds into the big tents. Prior to this the guys were sleeping on the floor so you would expect that actual beds would be greeted with joy. Not so much though as many of these guys had built quite comfortable quarters for themselves and were not excited to destroy their current accommodation to make room for the new. Add in some trust issues that the beds were actually coming and the short notice and boom EXCITEMENT haha. Once they saw the beds and we started bringing them in MORE EXCITEMENT as we can only bring in 10 at a time and theres always a bit of concern that not everyone will get one. And then once word has gotten out that the area has beds others who aren't supposed to be in the tent have come in to try and lay claim to them creating a shortage. MORE EXCITEMENT. But like most things in Moria the excitement is short lived and the next day everything had returned to calm. These men live in a state of limbo so I understand completely why they get upset when things get shaken a bit as they are simply trying to hold on to any resemblance of a normal life.
So thats a brief look at my day to day. I'll try and post again in the next few days as my processing of this experience continues. I head to Turkey on Wednesday which will allow me some recuperation time as well as an opportunity to dialogue with friends outside the situation which will undoubtedly provide new levels of revelation.
I also NEED to do a post specifically devoted to my Panagiouda Crew! My trip would not have been complete with out these guys they are truly kindred spirits to my adventurous heart and I have been so ABSOLUTELY blessed to have them in my life.
As this chapter closes I definitely do not want to leave though. I have gotten to see a change in Moria over the past few weeks and am proud for my tiny part in it. There is so much brokenness but as things are improving my hope is the men will see the hope ahead as well.
Please continue to pray for Moria, for the hearts of the men inside who fight hopelessness, for our world leaders to see refugees as an opportunity not a penance, for the workers in the field that energy would hold for the ones who are here and more would answer the call to this incredible experience.