Snapshots of Lesvos: Where is the hope?

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This is the garbage dump full of broken boats and fake, useless life vests used by people fleeing a life of war, pain, fear. Only to end up in another type of prison, the seemingly never-ending purgatory of nation states’ bureaucracy and NIMBYism. “Kings bow down to the bottom line.”
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In the quaint fishing town of Skala Sikaminia. I believe the tiny specks in the distance are the lights of Turkey.  In any event, people would have been crossing that dark expanse of freezing cold water, sometimes in storm-like conditions, at night-time, just before dawn, whenever they could without detection. Crossing a pitch-black watery grave, just hoping someone will help you on the other side.
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Turkey in the distance. Two worlds colliding.
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“Go towards the light; you’ll be fine!” -vague instructions I imagine smugglers give frightened people in an overcrowded raft.
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The first camp that many refugees saw when they got off the beaches where they landed. Welcoming lights, smiling faces, kind words. I hope they can remember that someone cares and loves them, even when they are left languishing in the camps with no answers.
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So many volunteers from all over the world, coming to support the Greek community that has had their lives affected by all the new arrivals on their shores. If you are interested in volunteering for beach clean-up efforts in Lesvos, contact me.

Breakfast at Heidi’s

croissants_editDry, air-packed, Nutella-stuffed croissants – for those in Moria camp, this is breakfast. A piece of fruit as well – oranges, usually, at least while I was there.  Some of the people in the camp have been there three to four weeks.  Oh, and kids under 12 have to have hot milk or nothing to drink for breakfast.  Adults have to have juice or nothing to drink for breakfast.  In the camp, choice is almost non-existent and micromanagement begins at breakfast.

I think people can better weather their hardships when they can retain their sense of dignity through the ability to make choices, no matter how small.  This helps them feel that they have some modicum of control in their otherwise chaotic lives.  The men, women, and children in the camp have almost no choice about anything in their current situation, except that they can “choose” deportation back to Turkey, which means incredible danger and fear for many. What kind of a choice is that?

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So.  Sophie’s choice appears to be (1) the camp, with its police, military, and yards of barbed-wire or (2) a country that appears to be using the refugee crisis as a bargaining chip for money and political power.

I think I’ll have that pear now.

Note: The refugees in the camp have access to clean water 24 hours a day.  All the organizations involved in the camp are doing the very best they can in a terribly confusing and tense situation.