Day 9: Lesbos, Greece

 I hit the wall today and so did Mark. Exhaustion and heartbreak. We saw 67+ patients and closed up, found the medicinal hot springs for a soak. It was lovely, but my whole body was just rubber when I got out, I could barely walk to the car. Came back to our bnb and went to bed, slept until 4 am.

Tama and I up drinking coffee at 5 am working out the plan for today. We have to pick up some more meds and thanks to all of you we can get the antibiotics so needed. So much pneumonia. We are also on the hunt for more vitamins. Our gorilla van was parked by the African tents again and everyone found us. We are seeing many Iraqis, escaping years of continued war.

We were parked near the food distribution area and watched a scuffle as the food ran out. There were MANY left on the line and this food is distributed once a day.  Some people are able to buy some vegetables and some go fishing for food that they cook. But not many. The Africans have a bent up funky pot they cook in. I saw a farm truck parked by the gates the other day they must be selling veggies or it would have been swarmed.  Brian went into the “Bush” to see the men’s shower. It was a hose in a tree of cold water. A makeshift shower and there is only this one for so many people.

Who are these refugees and why such a multi country group here in Greece? I have asked this and here is what I have come to understand, though I am not sure I am totally correct.

In 2015 a mass exodus from Syria began and the EU had an open migration policy, there were no quotas. People were allowed into Germany, Norway, Sweden, some in France and the UK. People from many repressive regimes, particularly the Congo and Cameroon, also were fleeing into Europe. So this mass exodus of over 3 million Syrians plus Iraqis and Africans flood the EU and they feel overwhelmed by the “other”.  Borders start to close, some borders become armed. Turkey imprisons people. Greece keeps its borders open but is overwhelmed with caring for these massive numbers of people. So even though Moria camp is like a prison and deplorable conditions it is a safe house and it  is only one of many in Greece. The refugees complain about the conditions in the camp because they are harsh, it is cold, basic needs are barely met and they thought they were heading for relief only to find another kind of suffering.

Now many people have families who managed to settle in the EU when the borders were open and they are waiting, hoping to be given asylum in the country where their family members are. But it seems the EU is not allowing this. Greece will grant asylum and refugees can move on to Athens but there are no jobs,  I will not say much about the Athens situation now as we are going there to work for a few days next week and I will see. Also, apparently if one is given asylum in Greece they cannot apply for asylum anywhere else.

Nowhere did I hear America was granting any of these people asylum. And yet we have much responsibility in the destruction of these countries. People we meet from the EU here are also upset with their government because they recognize their goverments’ responsibility in the creation of this disaster by past colonizations, participating in wars (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria) and particularly their involvement in Africa.

And yet Greece, an EU poor country is sympathetic and continues to manage, it is hard to criticize Greece. It seems they are doing what they can. And as I said, the conditions are deplorable yet they keep their borders open and more people keep arriving. We met some police in the hot springs yesterday from Greece and Holland. They were sympathetic, not hostile. The police say they are there just to maintain order in the camp. They knew who we were and have seen our gorilla van.

This is a global issue that we must all solve together. The refugees are people just like you and me they have had honorable lives, honorable jobs in their countries. Their lives destroyed by resource wars, of greedy countries and repressive regimes.
As I said before, their pain is our pain.
Everyone’s life matters.

We are planning a return in September and are looking for volunteers, med people, massage and those who can do some work at happy family ngo doing art, cooking, etc.
Think about this. It is hard, it is heart wrenching, but it is necessary.

By | 2018-02-02T02:13:58+00:00 January 31st, 2018|Categories: Lesbos, refugee|1 Comment

About the Author:

Valerie works endlessly toward her lifetime goal: To build a stronger, healthier, equitable and peaceful global community.

One Comment

  1. Barb February 3, 2018 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    Hope Mark feels better real soon! 💕

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