Idomeni, Day 2

Same today as yesterday; off to Idomeni in the morning with the Hummus Rights. Did I mention that they’re actually not handing out hummus anymore? Only plain bread, because the hummus wouldn’t stay good in the sun. This time, I ended up in the women’s line. Our task was pretty much to keep the line thin and in order, and preventing people from cutting it. Easy in practice, but quite messy in theory. Luckily, there are many volunteers among the refugees as well, helping us to keep everything in order. Very good especially when arguments arise. Many people stood outside of the second rope, trying to sneak in to avoid the hideous line. Parents tried to send their small children, and it became a game of tag. We had to be strict but friendly, catching the children and carrying them back. I think many kids kind of enjoyed it, although sometimes it gets a bit too messy.

A little girl ran towards the line while her mother cheered and laughed from the outside. I caught her – the girl, not the mom, and she proceeded on trying to bite my hand. The mother screamed – not funny anymore. She got her daughter back, and they disappeared towards the back of the line. After some time, they passed by where I was standing – I had already forgotten it by then. The mother grabbed my hands and turned them over back and forth. I looked confused at her, and she showed biting gestures. Ahaaaaa! I smiled at her and shook my head, I was fine. She hadn’t actually bit me. Anyways, when my brother was that age he used to try to bite me as well. Actually maybe not, he would only hit me pull my hair, but other kids bit him. Oh children.

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At the line, would just stand next to the people and push towards the wall, trying to make them walk one by one. Or at least not ten by ten. We would also wave and smile to the kids, and play clapping games with them – very popular thing. I actually quite liked this task, even though it could get a bit… dramatic from time to time. Most kids and parents were very sweet and friendly, understanding that we have good intentions although some of our actions feel quite harsh.

At last, we were done – ending with a spontaneous dance party with music from the speakers on the roof of the car. Yeah, we do entertainment simultaneously to the distribution and keeping the line. Once again, we went to the car to pick up some things. On the way back to the camp, we met a lady surrounded by children, carrying boxes from the warehouse. We decided to help; one of the other volunteers grabbed the biggest box, but the kids wouldn’t let me take anything although some boxes were clearly too big and heavy for them. Cuties. The lady was aiming to do distribution at some tent further in, but obviously walking through the camp with boxes of clothes and other items created a huge mess. Good intentions are not always enough.

While I was crossing one of the fields, a little girl ran towards me with her arms wide open. I lifted her up and span around. Three more tiny kids appeared from nowhere. I played with them for a while on the field, and their parents waved for me to come to their tent. I thanked them, but showed that I had to move on. Then, they told the kids to bring me to the tent, and I couldn’t get away as they were pulling my arms and pushing my legs. I sat with the family for a while, communicating as much as we could through a mixture of English, Turkish and Arabic. Mostly hand gestures and movements, of course. ”Makedonia, Hadod” – they tried to tell me something. “Hadod! Hadod!” sang the youngest girl and hugged me. I texted a friend – “What does hadod mean?” It means border. The father of the girls were in Germany. They had tried to cross to Macedonia, the whole family, but they had been sent back. I think it was violence involved, maybe pepper spray? Even towards the smallest kids, who were not more than 2 years old.IMG_8486.JPG

I went back to the car alone; I had another afternoon shift at the warehouse. Three small boys ran up to the car, and gave me flowers. I thanked them confusedly as I always am, and they jumped into the car. Uh, no. Then, I spent some 10-15 minutes trying to get them out. As soon as one got out, another one would get in. Oh children. The policemen stood by their van on the other side of the road and looked at me. Awkward.

 

Will write later!

Much love,

Jess

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