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Getting down from the boat we faced a multitude of people sitting on the ground,….

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We approached introducing ourselves seeking to understand what was happening. The port police approached us immediately asking who we are. I explained that we are an NGO that we work with Syrians and we have many Syrian volunteers with us. “Do you want me to show you our constitution?” “No, not at all”, he answered. He was in such a despair because of the lack of communication that he continued saying, “I just want you to help us do this and this, ….” During the 2 days we spent on the island we helped the boarding on 4 ferries. This means around 6,000 refugees.

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The first day, after finishing with boarding, we decided to visit the northern part of the island where most of the boats are approaching. It was already 11 p.m. and we knew we had about 1,5 hour driving but we all agreed to go. On the way to Kagia’s beach (Sykamia) we could see many refugees walking, …. Walking for about 65,000 kilometers in order to go to the port and find the right office to be registered. They had just arrived and they were walking, ….
Approaching the beach more and more signs were pointing that we were walking the right direction. One of them was the piles of the life jackets.

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lesvos9This isn’t a kid’s toy. It is a child’s life jacket!

 

The experience was just shocking, trying to understand how, thousands of people had woren all these life jackets, trying to understand the extent of the despair that can push a parent to allow his child to ware this life jacket crossing an unknown sea and facing an unknown future.

lesvos11As we were approaching the beach, there was a big plateau. Something was shining under the moon light and we thought it was trash. We stepped carefully, thinking that all these trashes were moving under the autumn night breeze. Getting closer we realized it was not trash but 53 people, ten of them were children who had just arrived from Turkey. Someone gave them thermo blankets. They were scared to death as it was nearly 1 o’ clock in the morning and they were into a dessrted area not knowing were to go or to do. Some angry and drunk locals were shouting, some others were trying to persuade them to pay 25 euros per person in order to take them to the port. A father was staying awake trying to protect his wife and a few months old daughter. We calmed them down. We called the police and they said they would come to pick them up next morning. Ilias made sure that the locals would go away and do not return back.

 

The second day we had planned to help again at the port. But a request came from some locals. “We are cooking and distribute food near the port. Can you help us with your volunteers?” They were cooking, we were bringing the people in and helping to the food distribution. Certainly, the kids wanted to wait not even a minute!!!

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lesvos15lesvos16And as this time they had cooked a lot, we all decided to continue the distribution at the port next to boats. Hundrends of people they were trying to be protected from the sun. They were just waiting under the shade of the boats. Waiting for the time to take their papers, or their tickets to come in Pireus. So, lets go there, we all said.

 

 

 

 

 

lesvos17From the time we got off the ferry, it was obvious that the area was stinky. The smell was terrible. Total absense of toilets and showers. How ironic, people having shower under the statue of Freedom right in the middle of the port.

lesvos18So, lets go for the next project “Help cleaning the camping area from the trash”. This area is an excellent place full of pine trees. The scene is beautiful and the smell from the sea and pines could make you forget where you was. This time the target was not just to help cleaning but also motivate the people who were camping there, Syrians and Afgans, to protect their “homes”, and understand the new culture they are moving in. We bought trash bags and we approached them “would you like to help us cleaning?” What a beautiful picture! Volunteers and refugees and locals to work together with the same purpose!

lesvos19At the evening we visited PIKPA. A shelter for vulnerable refugees. What a joy there to meet with some Syrians that had been helped by BRIDGES applying for asylum in Athens and then meet their family who were applying for asylum in Mytilene.

 

lesvos20Finally, we travelled back with the same ferry with the refugees. Thousands of them were walking to get the metro and move to the center of Athens.
The stories were tragic but the questions showing clearly how victimized these people are “From where do I get the bus to Germany?”

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