picture by Anton Willemann, find him on instagram!
Last days on Lesvos.
Now that I have stayed for six weeks what I understood is that the situation remains unstable, insecure and hard to capture: You never know whether mayor, the municipality, the port police, the coast guard or NGOs will do as they said.
I believe that my main work had been collecting information and contacts of responsibles for each question that came up.
I came completely by myself and I am grateful that I could stay with an activist of the village of altogether. I tried to support the village as well as I could.
However my main efforts were much more ambitious, even too ambitious as I realized.
In the beginning I could not stand what I saw. There were no visible NGOs at Kara Tepe nor the outside of Moria. The village of altogether collapsed under the need of the people and the inaccessibility of all other actors.
The weeks passed and things changed (luckily) just to change back in my last days again. As we had less and less refugess coming for one or two weeks the number increased again in my last days and the camps were packed just as before. It also became obvious during this time that everyone´s and mainly the NGOs´ efforts had not been sufficient.
I don´t know what to say about the situation on Lesvos anymore. What I believe should be done in the future is a better helpers´ structure. NGOs should not just talk to local supporters they should work with them. Working with locals, building real teams, creating info points and making spaces people like me – volunteers – might come to and stay and work with is crucial for ongoing processes on lesvos.
It has been a great deal of work getting into the lesvos helping structures. I got great feedback of my friends from Germany. Some would like to participate theirselves. I wish I had proper answers for them. I dream of a centre where volunteers could stay and support and organize from there. In my opinion this might be one of the most important things right now because refugees will keep coming. We´re not even yet in September. And then the winter comes….
I came to Lesvos to make a change.
And besides practical help such as distributing things and coming to the camps on a daily basis I think – as mentioned before – that my biggest efforts had been concentrated on understanding the existing structures and connecting with all actors.
On 9th August my friend Sebastian from Germany arrived to support me. Together he, me and our friends and activists from Germany had collected a great deal of donations that we want to use for exactly the purpose I came to Lesvovs: creating change.
I had an idea of change in my head from the first day on. This change was radical and all-embracing. And also unrealistic. We are all captured in a system of bureaucracy, laziness and insecurity.
Therefore I came to the point that I disagreed with my other six-weeks-ago-self that wanted to create another world. I realized that helping all people from for example (outside-area-)Moria for just one week is helping everyone. It is all I can do because I can do it now. Now!
My friend Sebastian and I decided to spend the donations on three things:
- creating shade in one abandoned construction in outside space of Moria by building a provisional roof
- secondly building water drains from the toilet and shower house to finally get rid of the swampy areas around there and creating a more stable hygiene situation in order to…
- … eventually paying a cleaning company to fully clean and desinfect the toilets and showers four times for two weeks. We hope NGOs and the municipality will take over as promised afterwards
Moria is not in the town of Moria, it is outside next to a highway. People outside of Moria (always what I speak of, I haven´t had a chance to look inside. No one can go inside, it is a detention camp and therefore unapproachable for us volunteers) are mainly Afghan. That is to say that all other nationalities except Syrians are being sent to Moria. Syrian are being sent to Kara Tepe.
While Syrian refugees escape their home country in order to flee war they sometimes have left some money or savings. With Afghans it is different in my experience. They usually cannot afford a fifty-cent-waterbottle.
And even if they had so no supermarket could be found closeby. It is a long walk down to Mytilini or inside Moria.
I got back to Berlin yesterday night. My friend continues our efforts, building the things and paying the cleaners. He will leave in the beginning of next week.
By now he and our helpers (and also helping refugees from the camps who support us helping them) have already finished the roof.
I don´t have any visual material by now but I will keep this page updated about what we finally did.
I wish I could have done more myself. I wish I could have stayed longer. But I could not. After six weeks I am tired and disaffected.
I will reflect on what had happened, I will keep updating this blog and I will stick to the problematic of refugees which in fact is a problematic of globilazation and world structure as we are being told, as we live it and give into it.
During the next days and weeks I will update this blog with information and pictures I get from my activist friends on Lesvos and I will finally translate to German. Thank you for your patience and stay tuned.