Today has been an interesting day on Lesvos – at least for me; for most other people it was probably rather ordinary and calm. The number of boats has decrease quite a lot during the past few months compared to September-October; yesterday there were ”only” 1’896 people arriving to the island, according to UNHCR. Almost two thousand people. Crazy. But this can be compared with 135’063 people during October.
I was walking along the shore until reached a beach with a tiny ‘camp’ with a small tent, blankets, soup, clothes and volunteers. I spent some time with them; apparently refugees who have just arrived to the beaches close by are brought there to get some dry clothes, food and information while waiting for a bigger bus to take them to the transit center that I mentioned yesterday. When I arrived, one group was just leaving with a bus. I helped with cleaning the beach, which looked (and still looks, I assume) horrible, with a lot of wooden planks, clothes, cables, plastic bags, a toilet in pieces… After some hour, another boat arrived, and another group of maybe people with their trousers wet up to the knees and feet in plastic bags came to the camp. And a lot of children – I don’t know if it was a usual or unusual amount, but there were so many children. Also babies who didn’t seem older than a few weeks. Anyhow, they were sent away after a while.
Everything went very smooth and calm – after all, this is the everyday life for the volunteers here. But it’s so weird to imagine that these are people who have just risked their lives crossing the sea, who might not have been able to eat and drink for days, who haven’t been able to feel safe for… a very long time. I’ve heard that the smugglers on the Turkish side collect them in the woods, where they have to hide for sometimes days without food or water before they can depart.
After the last group left the camp it was once again quite and I decided to move on east, to another small camp at Skala Sikaminea. A friendly volunteer drove me along the small, winding mud roads running on the mountain side along the shore. I don’t dare to imagine what this road will be like when it starts to rain, especially as the trafic with minivans and similar will increase during the coming week. A group named Dirty Girls of Lesvos Island had a Sock Pinning Party on the beach, where wet socks were pared and then sent to laundry (with other clothing items as well, of course) to be reused. A great idea, according to me.
The camp of Lighthouse Relief at Skala Sikaminea is probably one of the cutest things that I’ve seen, with lanterns hanging in the trees and sweet messages here and there. Some meters from that camp was another self organised center, to where one or two boats had just arrived. All, or at least the majority of, the passengers that I had met before were from Syria. In these boast, almost everyone was from Afghanistan. I tried to speak a little bit with them, and managed to translate a few words (such as pain and cold) when the doctor examined one of the women. Well, this is not really my cup of tea. Yet.
It seems like shoes for adults are needed all over the island, so I’ll try to go for that to being with. But honestly, I don’t even know what exists in the shops here, or if everything has to be shipped from the mainland. Hundred thousands pairs of shoes must have been distributed during the past months? I’ll have to research that closer a bit later.
I got a ride home by another friendly volunteer – it seems quite impossible to move around here without a car. I’ll have to think about renting a car, seriously… Tomorrow I’ll probably come to Lighthouse again during the morning, in the afternoon I’m off to Moria. I’ve heard some horror stories about that camp, so it’ll be interesting.
Now I cannot keep my eyes open anymore and I barely know what I’m writing. Good night!