Idomeni in the morning, we were stopped by the police again. I think this was the 4th time – they always stand at the same place on the bridge, all day and all night. The line was much less bad today, maybe because of the rain yesterday. I quickly visited all the families and people that I had been talking to during previous days, to see that they were alright.
Also, I felt like I needed to talk with the family who wanted to go back to Syria, to see if they knew all their options. Well actually I don’t know much, but the other volunteers had told me. They can apply for asylum in Greece, they can apply for the relocation program, or for family reunification maybe. (I later learned that although these possibilities exist in theory, they are hard to access in practice. For example, you have to make an appointment through a not very accessible Skype line.) We went to the information tent to understand things better, but there were no Arabic speakers around, and our Turkish were just not good enough to make things clear. Maybe we’ll have better luck another time, we said.
It was a short day in Idomeni for me; I was heading down to Thessaloniki again to join the last night of the EuRegMe. I’m not going to write about that though. Instead, I want to mention some things that make me happy. Really odd things make me happy these days. For example:
- Finding head scarfs makes me happy
- Long dresses and coats, especially with long sleeves, make me happy
- Summer shoes, sneakers, in size 42 and 43 make me happy
- Clothes that smell nice (aka washing detergent) make me happy
- Sorted and labelled boxes ❤
- People who help us sort clothes
- Pretty, high quality clothes
… And some other things too. So for example, if you want to donate things (yaaay! Because we wouldn’t be much without donations) and you want to make me happy (yay!) please make sure that the items are CLEAN, WHOLE and USEFUL. When it comes to clothes for example, donate only things that YOU COULD CONSIDER WEARING (or that you would let your child or your friend wear, let’s say) because we give them to people. SORT the items before you put them in boxes and LABEL the boxes (check with the receivers how they want the sorting and labeling). Consider what is appropriate and needed keeping in mind the context, environment and the culture. For example, we had a hard time getting rid of the pretty stiletto heals and miniskirts – as well as the heavy winter boots. Check with people – volunteers or refugees – on the ground, what they want! Some of our biggest needs here now are hygiene products (shampoo, soap, toothpaste etc…) as well as sun screen and mosquito spray/nets (getting more and more important). These items are seldom donated, and the need is constant as they are eventually used up – whereas people don’t need new clothes every week. Occasionally, we are also asked about everything from pots and spoons to solar lamps (good invention) and sewing kits and whatnot. You can of course also donate money, which might target the needs in a more accurate way. If you trust someone to spend it wisely that is… (Thank you people who have supported me financially, for trusting me ❤ )