Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

The Psychosocial Support Coordinator that I worked with in Greece led us through a revealing exercise at one of our team meetings.  First, we each wrote down a few of our core characteristics – the qualities that make us who we are.  My list included traveler, foodie, Latin dancer, introvert, and teacher.  She then asked us to consider which of these characteristics would be affected if we lived in a refugee camp like the ones we were volunteering it.  I looked at my list, and realized every thing on it would be.  Traveling, food, and dancing would be impossible.  Sharing a tent or cabin with a dozen people in an overcrowded camp with basic-to-dismal living conditions would tax my introverted tendencies.  Teaching might be possible, but that’s assuming both resources and my own mental health would be available in enough supply to set up some classes.

This exercise was meant to show us how being a refugee can really take away what defines a person.  She then asked us if losing some core parts of our being might cause us to behave differently.  Of course.  I know that if I could no longer travel, dance, or enjoy food, three of the things that make me most happy, I’d probably be terrible to be around.  This exercise really helped me better understand why some refugees in the camps are difficult to work with – they’re not their normal selves.

I described this experience to some of my best friends, and one of them raised an additional interpretation.  She said “Stephanie, you have all of those things in Minnesota, but you’re miserable there.  You go out to eat, you go dancing, and you travel.  But you’re so sad there.  You’re lonely and depressed, and you sleep all the time.”

She’s not wrong.

I was working in a refugee camp and hearing terrible stories about war and violence and suffering, but I was happy and fulfilled and not lonely.  In contrast, I have a cozy home, a good job, and a comfortable life in Minnesota, but I’ve spent more than half my time here battling depression and wondering if I will ever feel like I belong here.  Is it just that I haven’t found my tribe in the land of lakes yet?  Am I doing something wrong?  How long does it take to feel like you belong somewhere, and at what point do you accept a place isn’t a good fit?  And if Minnesota isn’t the place for me, where else should I go?  Or is Minnesota not really the problem?

Sigh. I don’t have answers to any of those questions.  All I know is that it seems kind of backwards that working in a refugee camp changed me for the better in many ways, and I wish I didn’t feel so lonely and out of place in Minnesota.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

More Refugee Snapshots

So far this year alone, over 4,000 refugees have arrived on Lesvos Island.  That’s not in all of Greece, that’s just on the island that I’m working on.  Most of these displaced people are from Syria, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but people arrive from several other countries too.  Each arrival means another life jacket added to the life vest dump, and another person bringing more stories.  I can’t take photos in the refugee camps, but I can share some verbal snapshots of the stories and observations I continue to collect here.

  • While working crowd control at the medical cabin one night, I chatted quite a bit with a 23-year-old Kurdish Iraqi man.  He had just arrived a few days earlier with his mother and 4 siblings.  (His youngest brother, 9, is special needs.  One of the doctors thinks he might have cerebral palsy.)  He described to me how their boat ride was supposed to take about an hour, but ended up taking 5 because the motor didn’t have enough horsepower to match the load of people it was carrying.  They left Turkey at 4 am and arrived on Lesvos at 9 am (he concentrated on the stars to get himself through the boat ride).  When I met him, his family had just been processed out of the new arrivals holding area and were placed in the tent they would now live in, where they recognized a woman who had been on their boat.  He told me that they all joked “we thought we might die together, but now we’re living together.”  I asked him how his English was so good, and he told me he mostly taught himself, using movies and TV shows to help (Game of Thrones is his favorite).  I recruited him to be one of our interpreters, and now I often see him at the medical cabin putting his Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish, and English skills to use.  He’s one of those people whose light shines especially bright – friendly, smart, hard-working, and resilient.  I think he has a good chance of moving himself and his family into a better life, and I sincerely hope he does.
  • A young Iraqi man named Mustafa came to see a doctor.  He indicated he had some head pain (which sometimes means a simple headache, sometimes means general aches and pains, and is sometimes code for psychological issues – it’s hard to know for sure when the patient doesn’t speak any English).  He was clearly in a bad mood about the wait, and kept saying things to me in Arabic even though we both knew I couldn’t understand him.  Eventually we each pulled out our phones and used Google translate to hold a conversation.  As we were better able to communicate, his attitude completely changed – he started joking and flirting and asking thoughtful questions.  At one point he asked me about my life dreams. I answered, then asked him the same question.  He looked thoughtful for a moment, then started typing.  And typing.  And typing.  I got busy with some new incoming patients, and the next thing I knew, Mustafa was gone.  I was really concerned because I didn’t see him leave and didn’t know if he was in a good or bad mood when he left.  He had come in for a medical (or psychological?) complaint and left without seeing a doctor.  I had just asked him about his life dreams, which could have been a painful topic for him.  I thought about him a lot after he left, and kept an eye out for him any time I was in the camp.  About a week later, he came in helping an acquaintance to the doctor. I think I startled him by remembering his name.  I then showed him the following Arabic translation on my phone:  “I was really worried about you.  We were talking about life dreams a few nights ago, then you disappeared.  Are you ok?” He was clearly touched, assured me he was ok, and thanked me for being concerned about him.  I’ve since seen him at the medical cabin a few more times and we always chat a tiny bit via Google translate, though the last time he actually said several English words and phrases.  I complimented him on his growing English.IMG_3528
  • A Syrian family of 3 brought their adorable Greek puppy, Max, when they came to see the doctor one afternoon.  I got to cuddle him while they went in to the clinic. This prompted another waiting patient to show me photos of the husky he used to have in Syria, and then the 9 or 10 parakeets he kept as pets, and then a beautiful scenic shot of Damascus, and then a shot of soldiers sorting through rubble.  He pantomimed that a building (possibly his house?) had previously stood there.  It’s sometimes hard to remember that so many people in the camp used to have normal lives with pets and houses and jobs and cars.
  • I’m surprised at how much sexual activity there appears to be in the camp.  There are several pregnant women here (granted some of them arrived pregnant, and that may be the reason they decided to flee their countries in the first place), but some get pregnant in the camp.  The doctors have told me some women ask for birth control, but the only thing we sometimes have available are condoms, and some women say their husbands won’t use those.  I KNOW this is a cultural difference and I’m viewing this through my liberal American lenses, but I am still shocked at how some Arab families don’t practice family planning.  Given the uncertainty of their futures right now, I have a really hard time understanding this.
  • I’ve heard that rape is quite common among the patients that doctors see here.  I guess a majority of the single African women, and several of the African men, were raped during their journey to Greece.  I witnessed one patient clutching his head in agony during a long wait to see a doctor.  Finally, too frustrated to wait any longer, he picked up one of our wheelchairs and slammed it on the ground, twice.  The other waiting patients immediately scattered, I had to call the police for assistance, and the doctors ultimately sedated him and called an ambulance to take him to the hospital.  I later learned he had been raped in Kuwait.  While his psychotic episode was disturbing to see, it’s not without reason.  I suspect rapes also currently happen in the camp, and have heard prostitution exists here as well.
IMG_2470

This statue commemorates Lesvos’ history of receiving refugees from Turkey. As one of the Greek islands closest to Turkey, immigrants have been arriving here for over a century.

  • The family camp, Kara Tepe, has a dance party every Friday night.  I finally went to one and it was fun to see.  I enjoyed watching the men (and occasionally some of the younger women) dance to Middle Eastern music, though it bothered me a bit to see that most of the Middle Eastern women only watched.  (I know, I know, biased lenses here.)  They played some Congolese music as well, and it was interesting to see how differently the African women and children danced.  But my favorite part was watching all the little kids dance to everything.  You could literally watch them experimenting with the different dance moves they were seeing, no matter what kind of music was playing.  It was a truly cross-cultural dance party.
  • Kara Tepe is the nice camp where families live.  In addition to the weekly dance parties, you can find children’s activities, music lessons, soccer practice, game nights, arts and crafts and more there.  However, things aren’t perfect in Kara Tepe and we recently had a reminder of that.  Our group received a call to provide emergency childcare.   While a boy and his father were at the hospital (we don’t know why) the mother of the family attempted suicide.  Fortunately, it was a neighbor rather than her 3 younger kids who found her.  But, those kids needed supervision while the family got help for a couple days.  It’s easy to forget that, despite the summer camp feel in Kara Tepe, the people living there have experienced a lot of loss and trauma, just like in the rougher camps.
  • Some common vocabulary sprouts up when people from several different countries live together.  No matter how limited their English is, everyone knows the following phrases:  Moria no good, big problem, no problem, my friend, finish (meaning “finished” or “all gone”) and crazy (which I used to think was used jokingly to tease friends or mock oneself, but have learned, by witnessing psychotic episodes and seeing medical files filled with notes on psychological trauma, that there’s often quite a bit of truth behind this word).  Everyone also uses the phrase Ali Baba, which means “thief” or “stolen.”  These common words reveal a bit of what life is like as they are the ideas that residents most need to communicate with one another.  Refugee camps and alternative shelters vary greatly, but they each seem to develop a little subculture of their own.

Read Full Post »

Generosity

I have been repeatedly impressed by the generosity I’ve seen so far during my first month of volunteering at refugee camps in Greece.  It’s amazing how some people, especially those who have so little to begin with, show such a willingness to give and to help others.  Some examples:

  • Patients are asked to bring a translator (a friend or neighbor) when they visit the medical cabin in Moria if they don’t speak English themselves.  A lot of people don’t do this.  There are refugees who volunteer to work as translators for my NGO, but they are free to come and go as they wish (we don’t want to put any demands on them).  So sometimes a refugee who doesn’t speak English wants to see a doctor, and we don’t have any Arabic/Farsi/French translators available.  Sometimes there are other patients waiting who speak some English, and they agree to translate for another patient (someone they don’t even know).  I’ve seen this happen several times, including one incredibly sweet young man (Mustafa) who majored in English in Syria and then left his country after graduating.  After getting sucked in to helping 4 or 5 patients (besides himself), he finally asked, during a lull in patients, “Can we go now?  My wife has been waiting for me for an hour.”  (He has since volunteered to be an official translator with our organization.)
  • When I do a social shift in Moria, which means walking through the camp and chatting with refugees for a couple hours in the evening, some of them have offered me tea, or even food (some of them cook their own dinners over open campfires because they don’t like the admittedly undesirable food given out in the camp).  They are crammed 20 adults into a shipping container cabin and receive about $100 a month from the Greek government, yet they still want to show me some hospitality.  I’m amazed (and I always refuse, as graciously as possible).
  • I was waiting at a food truck outside Moria Camp (yes, some refugee camps have food trucks outside them) one night to join the medical team on a night shift.  The temperature had dropped into the 70s and a wind had picked up.  A man offered me his jacket.  I assume he was a refugee (and not a volunteer) because that’s the primary clientele at these food trucks, and also the more likely population to think a jacket is necessary in 70-degree weather.  I didn’t need a jacket, but I was touched nonetheless that he was willing to lend me one.
  • Speaking of food trucks, the medical team working the evening shift usually eats dinner at Stratos’s food truck.  Stratos is a gray-haired, friendly Greek man (who makes delicious falafel!).  He never charges our medical team for bottled water.  He also provides several electrical outlets so refugees can charge their phones there.
IMG_2495

Stratos, taking an order from one of our doctors.

IMG_1962

My volunteer team patronized Nikos’s restaurant one day to help support him and his charities.

  • In the better camp, Kara Tepe, NGOs give out snacks every day.  Once, while I was working a shift on kids activities, popsicles were given out.  Fareed, an incredibly friendly 16-year-old who often comes to board games in the evenings, brought me a popsicle.  THESE ARE MEANT FOR REFUGEE CHILDREN!!  He wouldn’t let me refuse it.  (I took it and then gave it to a little girl when he left.)  This is the same young man who volunteers to coach soccer for little kids in the camp, and whose sister gives basic Farsi lessons to volunteers.
  • I helped out on a self-care campaign in Kara Tepe, handing out pamphlets advising refugee families how to take care of themselves.  A Turkish/Kurdish family lived in one of the cabins I visited.  I told the woman of the house that her earrings were çok güzel (Turkish for “very beautiful”).  She said she made them in the camp and then started TAKING THEM OUT OF HER EARS TO GIVE TO ME.  I told her teşekkürler (thank you) many times, but refused to let her give me her earrings.

I’ve written before about encountering the kindness of strangers while abroad, but this is a whole other level.  The medical volunteers are using their vacation time and expertise to offer badly needed help at refugee camp clinics.  Greek locals are providing services to help refugees in their communities.  And, what I find particularly impressive, is the refugees themselves.  They are displaced people seeking asylum to start a new life in a new country.  They have little money, few possessions, and every reason to be self-interested with concern for their own questionable futures. But still, they have such big hearts.

Read Full Post »

Thousands of refugees have arrived on Lesvos island in the past couple of years.  The beaches where they land get littered with life jackets, rubber rafts, wooden boats, and other debris.  Tourism is a huge part of the Greek island economy, so the municipality of Lesvos keeps their coastlines cleaner by moving all of the rubbish to a dump site down an unmarked gravel road in the north of the island.  I went to see it the other day with a few of the doctors volunteering with me.  One of them commented “Every life vest is a story.”

I’ve been hearing a lot of stories as I talk with refugees during my volunteering shifts, so I thought I would share some of the anecdotes I’ve gathered so far.  I think the collection might personalize what life is like as a refugee and help humanize a few of the stories that each life vest holds.

IMG_2250

A Syrian man I often see around Moria Camp was waiting to see a doctor one night. He showed me the side of his right calf, riddled with scars, and indicated that the scars continue all the way up his leg.  He also does not have a right hand.  His explanation:  “Bomb.”

IMG_2252

A Kurdish teenager in Kara Tepe Camp told me she and her family received their asylum papers and will move to mainland Greece in a month.  She doesn’t want to go.  When I asked her why, she said she has a lot of friends here in the camp (and I suspect an Afghani boy of interest is also a factor).  I’m guessing she’s probably moved a lot in her life, and is facing yet another move to an unknown place.  In the camp, she knows what life is like.  She has friends and activities and fun, even if she’s living in a refugee camp.

IMG_2256

A man from the Democratic Republic of Congo explained to me (and later showed me on my phone) how he took a 20-minute boat ride from Kinshasa across the border to Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.  From there he made his way up to Turkey, and eventually to Moria Camp here in Greece.  He stressed how rich the DRC is, full of diamonds, copper, tin, wood, and other resources I couldn’t understand in French, and he lamented all of the problems his country is facing with war, famine, economics, and corruption.  There’s just no opportunity there.

IMG_2258

I spoke with a charming young man in Moria Camp.  He was a personal trainer, body building champion, and gym owner in Afghanistan.  He told me about the car and motorcycles he owned, and that his family had 3 houses.  The Taliban killed his father, so his family decided to leave.  They are now in Turkey running a restaurant, but he is trying to get to Europe so he can open a gym there. While waiting for his paperwork to be processed, he volunteers with a couple NGOs at the camp as a translator.

IMG_2260

The Afghani teenagers who come to art and board games night in Kara Tepe Camp crack me up.  One shared an English song he likes with me: “Gangnam Style.”  He was incredulous that it’s not English.  Others debated with me about whether Eminem or 50 Cent is a better rapper (one said he looked it up on the internet so he knows the number 1 rapper is Eminem).

IMG_2262

I checked in two different 30-somethings from Africa to see doctors about their type I diabetes. The doctor told me later that each man started crying in the medical cabin.  The doctors are trying to get these men marked as physically vulnerable so they can be moved to better conditions.

IMG_2265

An Iraqi man told me that he has 4 kids and a wife back in Iraq.  He explained that his wife will give birth to their 5th child in a month.  I was wondering later why he would leave his family.  Some doctors explained that many men travel as refugees on their own, with the hope that they will eventually be granted asylum somewhere and can then bring their families to Europe directly, rather than having their wife and kids travel through the more dangerous refugee routes.

IMG_2270

These aren’t even life jackets; they’re pool floaties for kids. 😦

Self-mutilation (cutting) is really common among the refugee population.  I’ve heard that some of them do it because they think that having more visible health problems will get them through the asylum process faster (this isn’t true).  I suspect some of them also do it as a way to try to manage their psychological pain.  I’ve seen a surprising number of men with cutting scars on their arms or legs.  So far I’ve only seen one man brought to the medical cabin with fresh cuts – he was drunk and had sliced the back of his neck and shoulders with several sloppy criss-crossed lacerations.  The doctors stitched him up the best they could.

IMG_2268

Prepare yourself, this is the most tragic story I’ve heard here so far.  There’s a young Iraqi man in Moria Camp who is notorious among our medical team because of his many physical and psychological problems.  While in Iraq, he saw his whole family murdered, and he himself was shot in the face.  Miraculously, he survived.  The bullet remains lodged behind his cheekbone (I’ve seen the x-rays), probably because removing it would have been too risky because of the areas of his brain it’s near.  He’s had reconstructive surgery on his cheek and jaw.  Unsurprisingly, this man has severe psychological trauma.  His roommates and friends in the camp keep a close eye on him, but he often ends up at the medical cabin in a raging panic attack.  He’s been known to pound on walls, scream, knock over tables, and threaten medics.  I’ve met him a couple times when he’s been in a good mood or only mildly agitated, so I’ve never seen one of his famed fits.  He’s actually quite sweet when he’s having a good day.  I can’t comprehend how someone can live through an experience like that – physically or emotionally.  I know the doctors sometimes struggle to care for him because he’s such a difficult case and they have limited resources, but my heart just breaks for him.

IMG_2266

 

Read Full Post »

I’ve been in Greece for two weeks now and have so so SO much to say.  Every day I collect little anecdotes or observations that I want to share — about Greece, about living in a house full of 15 Europeans, and, of course, about working with refugees from all over the world.  I decided it would be best to give an overview of the camps and my work in each one as my first Grecian Summer post.

I live in Mytilini, the largest city on Lesvos/Lesbos island.  The island is in the northeastern Aegean, much closer to Turkey than to mainland Greece.  In fact, we can see the shores of Turkey from the beaches here (it’s only about 10 miles away), so it’s understandable why this island is one of the major gateways to enter Europe from Turkey.

IMG_2036

That’s Turkey in the distance.

 

There are 3 camps I’m working with, circled on the map below: one outside Mytilini (Kara Tepe camp), one outside Moria (Moria Camp), and one outside Mantamados (Caritas Hotel).   All three sites are managed by the Greek government and/or police, and further supported by several non-governmental organizations.

lesvosmap

Caritas Hotel

The best living conditions are in Caritas Hotel.  This was an abandoned hotel that now houses around 40 people, mostly families with young children.  It’s located on a seaside cliff, with beautiful views of the sea.  This site has the most normal home-like conditions, with access to the main kitchen, transportation into Mytilini, and a calm, neighborly feel of an apartment building.  The downside is that the hotel isn’t near anything except the sea, and the closest village is quite small, so there isn’t a whole lot to do here.   A few NGOs organize activities here (including my NGO, which offers twice weekly adult English classes, children activities, and doctor visits).

Only very vulnerable families are placed here.  I haven’t gotten a clear answer on what makes a refugee very vulnerable, but I can give a few examples.  There are currently 3 or 4 families with newborn babies living here (I met a Syrian woman and her 7-day old daughter during my first visit to the hotel).  An Ethiopian woman in my English class brings her adorable 3-month-old to lessons.  And a 52-year-old Syrian woman in my class, who never married and never had kids, told me that her father died in Moria Camp (she then started crying – I didn’t know what to say other than “I’m sorry.”).  I’m not sure if she has other relatives in the hotel/Greece with her, but I do know she has a sister in Sweden and is hoping to reunite with her there.

Kara Tepe Camp

The Lesvos municipal government manages Kara Tepe, and the head manager insists on referring to it as a village, not a camp.  It does indeed have a small town neighborhood feel.  Families with kids are placed here, and there are constantly groups of children running around playing together.  There’s a small astroturf soccer field, an outdoor foosball table, and a couple playgrounds with jungle gyms and swing sets.  There’s a community building where they hold movie nights and dance parties.  Around a dozen NGOs work in this camp, preparing snacks to give out during the day, distributing donated clothes, organizing games and activities for children and adults, teaching English and Greek, giving guitar lessons, and more.

Families live in Isoboxes, which are kind of like large shipping containers that are turned into cabins. Around 700 people live here.  It’s right next to a large supermarket, on the outskirts of Mytilini city, with regular buses into town.  I work on three different activities here.  Art and board games for adults happens 8-10 pm every evening, and tends to attract teenagers.  There’s a group of Afghani boys and a few Kurdish girls that regularly show up to braid bracelets, play chess, flirt, and listen to music.  They’re amusing and I enjoy chatting with them.  The toughest part about this activity is keeping the younger kids out of our cabin.  More on this in a bit…

Greece. New accommodation for refugees in Lesvos

Isobox cabins in Kara Tepe Camp. I can’t take photos in the camps, but I can swipe some pics from the interwebs.

The other two activities I help with are for children.  I’m not a kid person and I would probably be overwhelmed assisting in a well-run U.S. elementary school.  But here?  Where most of the kids have never attended school? Have no regular schedule?  Have lived through traumatic experiences?  Can’t easily communicate with everyone they’re surrounded by?  And have inattentive and distracted parents?  It’s a madhouse.  Some of the kiddos are super sweet and very well behaved, but many of them have never learned to take turns or share or wait in line or follow directions.  They can be moody.  Sometimes they burst into tears when they’re frustrated or hit each other (or me).  It tries my patience and completely drains me, but there are some bright spots when they proudly complete a craft project or run up to me and hug my legs or climb up on my lap or grab my hand to go for a walk.

When we volunteers walk into Kara Tepe, wearing our navy blue Boat Refugee Program shirts and carrying supplies for various activities, children inevitably shout “For small?” They want to know if the activity we’re about to start is for children or for adults/teens.  If we answer “Yes” they follow us to our cabin to see what games or crafts we have for them. If we answer “For big” some look disappointed and go on playing, but others see it as a challenge to break into our cabin and grab whatever goodies we’ve brought, or just generally disturb us by pounding on the cabin doors and windows. They eventually get bored of this and leave, but it can take awhile.

Movie night is my least favorite activity because it attracts around 70 kids and almost no parents.  They run all over the place, dance in front of the projector, hit and shake the hanging screen, and go in and out and in and out and in and out of the room throughout the entire movie.  I’m grateful that there are always 2 or 3 other volunteers helping with this activity, as well as two Afghani teens who wrangle the kids when they get really unruly.  When the movie ends, we literally have to catch, drag, or carry a few of them out of the room so we can lock up.  It drains me.

Moria Camp

This is the biggest camp with the worst conditions.  It’s supposed to house around 2,500 refugees, but the current population is almost 3,000, mainly single men.  There’s a gated section for single women, another gated section for families with children (although some families with children also live in the main part of the camp), and a third gated section for unaccompanied minors.  There is also a prison here.

This camp is managed by the Greek police and military.  It’s situated on a large hill, surrounded by chain link fence and barbed wire. Refugees are free to come and go as they wish (as is true in all 3 camps), but can only use the main gate to enter and exit.  “Landscaping” at the camp is gravel and concrete, and everything is dusty.  Most refugees stay in shipping container cabins like I described above, but around 20 adults sleep in each one, making them terribly hot when temperatures are regularly in the 90s each day.  Some refugees still live in tents, which used to be what EVERYone had in Moria, including in the winter, when it was cold and snowy.  Volunteers who have worked here before said the living conditions and overcrowding have improved, but it’s still not great.

Around a dozen NGOs also operate here, offering soccer, volleyball, art activities, Greek classes, English classes, movie nights, barber lessons, and more.  My organization is one of the few offering medical services, and the only one keeping doctors onsite overnight.  I sometimes help at the medical cabin doing crowd control.  This means greeting patients, writing down information from their medical card onto our waitlist, and generally keeping a calm and friendly environment outside the medical cabins while they wait to see a doctor.  I really enjoy this work.  In fact, when the volunteers were discussing each other’s defining characteristics and quirks, several Dutch doctors said that I’m the one always laughing.  I like chatting and joking with the refugees, and apparently it shows.

IMG_2014

Our old medical cabin. We’ve since moved into a bigger one higher up on the hill.

IMG_2035

Sometimes I work the overnight crowd control shift, which means slumbering in the medical cabin from about 2:30 am to 7 am, unless we’re awakened by an emergency.

Another task I sometimes help with is social shift, which happens a few evenings a week from 8-10 pm.  Two volunteers walk through the camp, chatting with anyone who’s out and about.  We ask refugees about their day, show them the schedule of activities happening in the camp (and encourage them to take a photo so they can find things to do), joke around, or just listen.  We aren’t supposed to ask them about their home countries or backgrounds or travels (though I have soooooooo many questions!), but if they bring any of that up we can talk with them about it.  At first I felt funny approaching strangers, but I quickly noticed that most of them are happy to have someone to talk to and pay attention to them.

Finally, my NGO started up more English classes at Moria Camp.  I teach every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon from 4-6 pm.  Around 25 guys have been showing up so far (I’ve had to turn some away because our ISO box gets standing-room-only crowded).  Almost all of them are French speaking Africans in their early 20s.  They’re a fun group and I’m looking forward to getting to know them better.


So, those are the three sites I’m volunteering at for the summer.  In summary:

  • Caritas = hotel/apartments for very vulnerable refugees
  • Kara Tepe = “village” for families
  • Moria = crappiest camp, overfull of single men
  • Stephanie = loving life here, feeling fulfilled, laughing a lot and getting her glow back
IMG_2010

With my refugee kitty crowd controller assistant.

 

Read Full Post »