I don’t feel like I’ve really left camp.
Physically I am not there, but my heart and tears are with the people I left behind. I walked out of the gate on my last day, said goodbye to the police officers with guns, and then walked to the air-conditioned rental vehicle. Thousands of people remain behind barbed-wire fences, behind the men and women with weapons, desperate for something better. I said goodbye to people I had met just a week and a half prior, who I now call friends, and goodbye to the people I never got a chance to meet or talk to while I was there. Like the old man who so clearly had Parkinson’s disease who walked determinedly up and down the the steep dusty road in camp to and from the ridiculously chaotic and long food lines, hands shaking as he carried food back up the hill. He waved off my offer of help. I could see him holding his head up high every day, holding together the little dignity you can have in a place like Moria. Or Sher, a friend I met who came to Europe from Pakistan. Or the amazing volunteers from all over the world, trying to relieve a tiny bit of the suffering mass of humanity crammed into what is essentially prison. It seemed like we were trying to hold back the sea with a broom.
Does anything that I did matter? Sometimes I wonder, late at night, when I pray for those left Greece, if any of it matters. After I’ve prayed what sometimes seem like useless prayers, and cry whatever tears I have left, a tiny, almost imperceptible bit of hope appears, the kind of hope that I only see once I plunge into the darkness.
*cover image credit: Paul Sableman, Flickr