History will write of a time, our time, when shamefully those seeking refuge from a world at war, were dealt with behind barbed wire and steel gates. Families fleeing torture, persecution and violence dealt with through a dehumanizing bureaucracy of losing their names to be given a number, losing their identity to be given an A4 sheet of paper and losing their freedom because a “deal” was struck that forgot that as we speak of “refugees ” or “migrants” we are speaking of men, women and children and what they are fleeing ( and why)
Late evening in Samos, we receive a phone call regarding a Young Syrian family needing assistance.We find a man, his pregnant wife and 3 young children sitting at the port in a small cafe, where the owners have given them some food and drinks. They were released earlier this evening from the “Camp” with their papers, for the ferry that will leave in the early hours of tomorrow morning.Released without thought or assistance from the very many large NGO’s, well funded NGOs who are no longer taking any responsibility for anyone inside or outside the camp , sent to the port without food, help or even information. This young family did not even know where the ferry would go to tonight, whether Kavala or Athens. It is thanks to the generosity and help of several volunteers , working together, that we are actually able to purchase tickets for this family.
We have read many opinions this week from people opposed to anyone working inside a closed camp.We have read many posts on those applauding the NGOs on their stance to refuse to work inside the camps … What we have not read is your solution to continue to help those inside the camps without going “inside the camps”!!
My conscience is very clear when I can sit with a family inside, relieve a few of their fears, give them as much up to date information as I may have, help feed and clothe their children, direct them to a doctor, give their children treatment for head lice, make sure a woman has a packet of sanitary towels for herself or a nappy for her child! Help them find the help they need!
We can also go to those lost between the system as they leave the camp and still have no money to take the ferry or the ferry is not for another two days!. They need information on where they can pitch their tent, where they can find sim cards, find Western union in the hope they can get more money sent from family members back home to buy the tickets etc etc… We, the volunteers , are the ones who provide food each day, tents, sleeping bags, clothes, toiletries and even just a bit of humanity, a handshake, a hug , a conversation…
So, tell me, How do we do this without being in the same place as the refugees? I am not arrogant enough to assume that by my “not going inside” the agreement will be rescinded, the deportations will stop or the camp will open… These elements we, Derek and I, absolutely condemn, these elements we continue to fight against but not at the detriment and isolation of those being Punished for the crime of being a certain nationality, or fleeing a country , their country, being bombed and occupied by foreign ruthless invaders and warmongers of all sides. We have spent so many years volunteering and living inside the Gaza strip…the worlds largest open air prison, not because we want to live under siege, not because we do not hate the barricades of occupation but because that’s where the people we stand in solidarity with are, therefore that’s where we will be found…always! Empathy , Solidarity … they can be given regardless of the barbed wire!
It is now 3.00 a.m. We will go now to find the worried mama and papa, wake up three sleeping children and help carry them to a ferry from which 10 hours later they will depart and head to yet another camp with more uncertainty for their future. Thankfully, at least we know there will be more like-minded volunteers there waiting for them, volunteers living and working off donations and aid from good people around the world. Sadly tonight at the port and tomorrow in the next camp, it will be the volunteers, and mainly just the volunteers who will help this and many other families…
The political games will continue. The meetings will continue. But so too will the bombings and therefore the need for people to find security, a home, a haven , an empathic people instead of burecracy, frontiers, abuse, hatred and a sense that money and power, war games and political alignments mean more to this world that a shared sense of worth, a belief in equality or even a helping hand
Do we sit with our children, our grandchildren some day and admit we are the ones they read about, the ones who watched and allowed it to happen, or do we hurry them to turn the next page, the next paragraph in history where they read the world looked up and remembered our humanity..
It is only ever thanks to your solidarity with us and those we stand with, that we can continue. Your support , old friends and new, is always needed. Our funds diminish quickly but the need for help does not. Whatever you can give us to help, please be assured it is spent frugally and wisely… although admittedly sometimes on a small treat for the children or a coffee for a tired parent. Stocks must be constantly replenished and we are desperately in need, so please, if at all possible, donate via our paypal link, address is email@example.com ( Irish in Gaza account) or email above address for bank details.
You can follow us online at http://www.irishingaza.wordpress.com or on facebook : no more borders, no more tears and twitter @nomoreborders1
PS. We are prohibited from taking pictures in side the camp.
Derek and jenny