Drama/Kavala Team 1

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July 26th 2016 – August 12th 2016

Very little ever works out exactly as planned, especially when you volunteer in countries like Greece or Turkey in refugee aid. Our original plan was to continue our mission in Izmir but shortly before our departure a coup attempt took place in Tukey and the country was in a state of emergecny. Some of the volunteers did not want to travel to Turkey because it was too risky and the situation was very uncertain. With a heavy heart we decided to cancel the mission and go to Greece instead.

So all of us (Stefan, Sarah, Julia and Ceyda) ended up in the military camp in Drama where the medical team Kitrinos Healthcare asked us for help. We couldn’t wait to explore the military camp.During our stay there we learned the camp in Drama is one of the best camps considering the conditions. The camp is basically a big old industrial hall where the residents built their own rooms by putting up blankets. This way they have at least some privacy… Three times a day a meal is delivered by a catering company, there are washing machines, sinks, showers and toilets. Also, there is a provisional classroom. Compared to Idomeni we could notice a lot of improvements.

But the biggest problem remains, the people are waiting and have no opportunities to work or engage in activities. The people have nothing to do, the children run around and stay up late, as well as the adults. You have to keep in mind that there are about 280 residents and it can get quite loud where it is difficult to sleep. We were happy to see that the children were able to join classes given by Greece students every morning. This way they get to experience some kind of daily structure in their lifes. There is also a medical station in the camp area where Stefan worked in the mornings and evenings. Us girls went to the military camp in Kavala where they asked us to teach the children. Saqr, our interpreter oined us all the time. He lives in the camp, knows English very well and was a highly motivated and highly appreciated member of the team from the beginning.

During the first days we held English lessons for the children in the camp. Saqr taught the younger ones in Arabic. We supported him by offering school material. Because of the donations we cold buy backpacks for the kids and filled them with pens, notebooks and study books. The kids were so happy to see us every day and when we asked them to do exercises on the board in front of the whole class all hands went up. During class Ceyda spent time with the little ones so they could do some activities as well. They played games and did some exercise outside. Luckily Ceyda knows some Kurdish and was able to communicate with the little ones. After one week Julia left and Kathi joined our team. She quickly integrated in our group and built relationships with the people. She helped us with the German classes for the children.

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Since Stefan worked in Drama we visited the camp there a lot and go the opportunity to chat with the people there. This way we could get good impressions of what it is like to live in the camps. Stefan always reported us of what was happening in the medical station. The team got support from the two interpreters Loqman and Sarah who live in the camp. Without them the medical care would be impossible. People came to the medical station because of various reasons. Many of them, especially children suffer from insect bites (because of the many bed bugs in the camp). This is almost impossible to manage. New patients come every day because of injuries they got during every day life in the camp. Since they live very close together, in the smallest spaces, the infectious diseases spread quickly. Soar throats, coughing and high temperature are very common. Fortunately, serious infections don’t occur too much. Besides all the acute diseases the Drama team supported a small number of chronically ill people. These patients suffer from diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, depression, eye and liver diseases and complications during the pregnancy. There are also people suffering from war injuries. Stefan and the team made sure to offer the right medicine and helped make their lifes in the camp as comfortable as possible.

The interpreter Sarah told us, that the women in the camp were interested in learning German because the majority of them had requested a family reunion with their husbands in Germany or Austria. No sooner said than done we started German lessons with 20 women the next day. Since then it took place every evening. We were impressed by the women and how quickly they took on some German. They had such a good time. As soon as the men found out they were interested too and kindly asked us to give them lessons, too. Therefore, we started German lessons when our voluntary Lisi joined us. The lessons were a great platform for us to meet new people. We got to know welcoming, generous people that simply try to live their lifes. Like always we were impressed by their strengths and optimism and could definitely learn from them.

After intensive work and new exciting experiences Stefan, Sarah, Kathi and Ceya had to leave Greece on August 12th and the new team of Lisi, Sarah, Babsi and Sas came to continued their work.