It’s been a bit since we’ve had an opportunity to blog. Between sketchy internet connections and a back to back shift at the camp this is the first time I’ve been able to get something posted.
After two days of stationing the camp and not seeing any boats come in, yesterday we had 885 people come through, not including children small enough to sit on laps. 17 boats arrived off the coast from Turkey and thankfully it was a very sunny day. While I say ‘sunny’, it wasn’t ‘hot’ by any stretch. (I know that’s hard to believe when you’re all back there in the midst of snow!) But most of our team were still wearing coats, and even toques, so you can imagine that when these people come wet out of the water they are freezing cold.
Our camp is set up sort of as an assembly line where we all ‘process’ people according to different needs–greeting them, handing out food, ushering people to the doctor, handing out bus tickets, helping with crowd control, loading people onto the bus in an orderly fashion…
Since this camp is significantly smaller than the first camp we were at, and since it is actually run by Euro Relief–a Chrisrian organization–everything is actually a pretty smooth system. Yet even given that, it was still so easy to see how families end up getting separated from children or how injured people might get left behind, thinking they will be ‘reunited’ after their doctor treatments. The reality is, most of these people are simply so happy to have made it to Europe, but they have no idea how long their trek will be within Europe, nor the type of conditions they will experience along their way.
I wanted to warn them about the chaos they would experience at the next camp, or tell them not to lose heart if they faced pepper spray or guards trying to keep them out when they get to Macedonia… But once again, we can’t communicate. We can only say a few words back and forth, but with open arms, bright smiles, first impression of being welcomed that will hopefully last them through the coming days and months, and even years.
Apparantly the going rate to cross the sea yesterday was 2200 Euros per person, and that was for one of the flimsy rafts loaded with roughly 70 people on it. I watched a father with 5 kids carrying his 3 year old daughter with downsyndrome through the camp, trying to keep her warm amidst caring for his other kids. Many of them come with absolutely nothing except their families and what is on their backs. Despite our long days here, I have yet to hear one complaint from anyone on our team. Seeing the love, sacrifice and sheer gratitude of these people is quite the powerful reminder of all that we have.
I have to get ready for our 6:45 shift, so I’d better close off. Will write again when the internet allows. Thanks for your prayers!