From the grassroots
I came for the Syrians, i received so much from the Iraqis and than i fell in love with the Afghans.
To summarize the last few days here on Lesvos i would need a long scroll, one very fancy scroll to emphasize the richness in experiences and encountering i made. Days where the landscape was changing eye after eye blink, and days where i had to blink twice to reassure myself that everything was still there where it was.
The landscape i’m talking about is the Moria camp, a landscape of vandalized olive trees, long queues and sparks of hope. We had many thousands guests arriving the last days, vulnerable members of our planet, seeking for a better life, elswhere, where the heavy laws of violence and persecution are just in the news, where you press the red button and the world becomes purple again.
Profound is the word i need to describe each encountering taking place in or out of our Tea tent. Without knowing it, with our tent we created a platform to bring back the missing human aspects in this crisis, i found myself thinking about the meaning of humanitarian organisation, searching for the humanitarian aspects in the bigger organisation i failed, what i found are just numbers and statistics, the same numbers you can find in the stock market and the same analytical approach a physicist would use to solve a problem. Real humanitarian help grows from within, grows from the people for the people, it cant be just planted there with large amounts of money and clever ideas brought to you by the clever folks behind the desks. Real humanitarian help happens when you empower the victims, when you take them out of the queue, when they receive a name and when they finally become human again, thats what the word is for.
Me and Helena, we have been working very hard the last days, i still don’t know what drives us and keeps us going, and personally i don’t know what kind of resources i’m tapping in to keep on going.
What i know is that when i take a minute within this strong currents, i can hear thousands of hearths beating loud, i look around and i can see 1000 people gathering on the hill and trustfully waiting for their faith to unfold, I can hear my hearth beating loud among the thousands and i cant hear any difference.
The only very obvious difference i see is the privilege to come from a well resourced country and to be able to share some of it here in Moria. And thanks to your donations me and Helena managed to set up a very beautiful tea tent that became much more. We have just been in the right place at the right moment and managed to get permission to hammer down the picks. What was initially intended to be a place to hand out hot drinks for the long and cold nights, very quickly escalated to become a semi kitchen with three gas stoves, a large amount of foods and snacks and a very important social gathering point for guests and volunteers. I was able to prepare hundreds of cups of lentils soup along with thousands of liters of hot tea, ginger tea, wild sage tea, ginger cloves and sage tea…and of course 3 bags of sugar if you don’t want to find your cup thrown in to the bush, yes arab countries love that sweet chai.
The work is very organic and while i’m trying to take care of the infrastructure, the goods, the politics and the cooking itself, Helena is bringing in her great skills and takes care of coordinating the other volunteers working with us, holding the space, and helps us to stay focused to keep our visions clear.
My visions are, as i mentioned before empowering the guests, to make them work with us, they beg for it. For three days now we had Mohammed Ali, Mohammed and Hameed working with us, amazing workers running the joint, sleeping in the tent to secure it overnight and serving the goods to their brothers during the day. They grew in our heart and it was a difficult goodbye tonight when they left with their relatives to Athens. Yesterday i took them to the hot springs for a bath and a relaxing break and we provided them backpacks, tends and blankets as a compensation for their hard work.
Also helped Hussein from Iraq traveling with his two daughters and wife, stranded with no money i fixed him as a translator in the medical tent for two days and bought him the ferry tickets for his onward journey, the incredible thing is that when i arrived one morning at 6 am in the camp he was already awake and cleaning up the litter without anyone asking him to do it, i was deeply touched realizing that we have so much to learn from those people, but the only thing we are able to do is putting immense labels of fear and ignorance, fences and borders to keep us separated. There is so much potential to grow as humankind if encountering can take place and we are totally screwing up this unique chance now.
I have more stories where my focus is on specific cases and where i tap in the donated money to make a small difference, and i wish you to see the faces of gratitude i’m able to see.
Tomorrow we have delivered a professional storm proof tend, to feel a bit safer during apocalyptic nights like the one we had 3 days ago…but thats another story.