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May 6th 2016 – May 20th 2016
After only a short break the team of Aktion Weitblick is back at the boarders of Greece and Macedonia. This time there are 4 people on our team: Stefan and Sarah, who were able to stay for the first week of the service and Tamara and Hanni, who stayed until the rest of the month.
Hanni and Sarah have worked at the camp before and quickly noticed a difference of the area when they arrived. The clearance of the train tracks has begun, slowly. There were not as many people as last time (about 8000 people) and the atmosphere was not quite the same anymore. We had the impression that everyone slowly realized how the boarders will stay closed for sure this time. The month-long waiting seemed to be unsuccessful and we could feel the pain people had.
The miserable spirit changed all over sudden when Sarah got a big hug fro a girl she knew from her last service in Idomeni. The girl showed her a warm welcome and from one second to the other, the team was back in business, accompanying the girl back to her family. There we enjoyed a kind reunion, not only with the girls family but many others. It was just like the time has stopped while we were gone. Every tend was at the same spot and everyone invited us to tea. Only because of the size of their baby son we were able to tell how time has passed, since he has grown a little. It was bittersweet to see them again. We were pleased to see them but it also showed how nothing has changed for them.
There have been some developments on site though. We recognized the self-organization of the camp community. A lot of people have built themselves fire places they use for cooking. Others offered hair styling or established food stands where they sold Falafel and Durum, the best we’ve ever had by the way. We were so impressed by their ideas.
Nevertheless there were still many people without the possibility to cook for themselves which is why we decided to join the “Hot Food Idomeni” initiative. There we helped prepare about 4000 portions of food every morning. The distribution took place in the afternoon and was very calm and accompanied by music.
Like last time we also brought a lot of commodity donations with our van. Half of it were diapers and baby food that we distributed from tend tot end. This way we got to know many new people and had the possibility to spend some time with them. We appreciate the time we had to simply talk to them and listen to their stories.
Although the majority of the people tried to live a „normal“ calm life, a few smaller riots took place and affected others. We too were once affected because a group of people stormed our food bank. They attacked others who were standing in line for the food so we had to shut it down. After the situation had calmed down many people apologized and expressed their incomprehension. A man from Syria, who always helped us with the food distribution, explained how there already was a conflict earlier in the morning. Apparently there was a fight between human traffickers and refugees which is why some were in an aggressive mood and that was later acted out at our food bank.
The next morning we skipped food distribution to work on our other project. We decided to pack hygiene bags for the women and babies containing moisturizers, women pads, toothbrushes, creams and shampoos. The bags for the babies included dummies and a stuffed animal in addition. Especially the women pads and moisturizers were of high importance for the hygiene. While we spend several hours on distributing them we had the opportunity to discover the way people have structured their lifes.
Time went by too fast, Sarah and Stefan had to leave and Hanni and Tamara continued their work in Idomeni. Before their departure they brought the rest of the donations to the Warehouse. Tamara spend a few days with the distribution team oft he warehouse. She helped organize clothes in order to assure a structured distribution. We could then be certain that all our stuff would go directly tot he refugees. Meanwhile Hanni concentrated on her own little project. She started the initiative „Spice Talks“ by handing out spices to people who were cooking. We brought the spices because we wanted to give the people some sort of feeling of home, and give back happiness. Hanni did make many people happy and often was invited into their temporary homes to have lunch with them. Watch this video to learn more about Hannis project and the amazing idea behind it:
Furthermore Tamara wrote a very good detailed report of the whole situation in the camp, very recommendable!
The service this time showed us once again what big of a difference you can make in small ways, through small acts of kindness. Also, we learned creativity has no boundaries when helping one another. And sometimes it’s best to simply spend time with one another and chat. This way we hope to show how there are Europeans that care about their situation. For us this is a beautiful experiences every time we go on a mission. We appreciate all those experiences and are thankful to share them with amazing people on their journey.