NO MORE BORDERS, NO MORE TEARS
It has been a long hard Summer for so many but winter, with its cold and its darkness, Christmas in all its loneliness for so many and the prospect of facing into another year of war, conflict, death, fear and hatred is more than some of these people can face.
So, we ask again, in fact we are pleading for one more big effort this year. Our plan is to arrive with just the basics and to make a needs assessment on arrival. We hope to have enough funding to make at least part of the living conditions more bearable. As human rights activists we will protest the living conditions, fight for more forthcoming information and a right to refuge and as humanitarians we will try to improve basic needs and rights.
Please do what you can to help us help them. We , as always, deeply appreciate your support to us over many years and hope these friendships ( new and old ) continue. Thank you.
As those seeking refuge dream , pray and long for their families back home, their old lives, a brighter future , It is important they can carry on their cultures and traditions. Any of us, All of us, who have left home by choice, for economic reasons or for personal reasons have the duty to integrate but also an absolute right to remain who we are by tradition and culture, beit through our religion, our food, our dance or our festivals and holiday's, and none more so than those who have been driven from their land through fear and war.
The flow of the night was led by those celebrating, we merely were friends handing out tea and coffee, joining the dancing, listening to the stories and feeling a part of a new experience. Many mentioned their sadness at not being at home for the celebrations but many also thanked us and others for allowing them to remember their culture, giving them a platform to celebrate and sharing it with them. We were honoured to do so.
On our behalf and on theirs, Thank you for your support and your donations which allow us to share these moments.
As we have previously stated in *April 21st 2016* when we first opened the night cafe, "It was not groundbreaking, it did not remove the fences or cut down the barbed wires. The same problems will still be there tomorrow but for two hours tonight the mental barriers erected by circumstance ( and politics and war) were demolished.Those here in samos seeking refuge from horrors beyond most of our imaginations, got the chance to sit and be “normal”...I hope you can appreciate the importance of this, of regaining your name for a moment, of regaining your dignity, of not having to ask for every little thing. The importance of dignity in a situation where perhaps that is all you have left…your name and your dignity, both of which you may feel are slowly being stripped away. Perhaps to sit and talk, to sit and listen to peoples dreams and nightmares, to peoples reasons for fleeing, their hopes of a future, their desires to return , their loss, their beliefs of a future again for their children is a small step in breaching this racist xenophobic imaginary line that divides so many..or perhaps its even more simple, for a few hours it may well just be a coffee, a game of dominoes ( a dance) and a shared respect "
Imagine looking day and night into the eyes of your wife, your mother , your child. Their eyes dark and vacant, searching to you for an end to hurt and pain, the cold and all you can offer them is another blanket or a chance to stand in a queue for a hot drink. This is the life, and much worse besides, for those who have come to seek refuge in the camps of Europe. And what have we offered as solace? barbed wire, tents, cold cabins, paperwork, delays, muddy fields, jungles, queues and months and months of detention.
In Samos this week, we have had rain...lots of rain, thunder, lightening and cold. We have hundreds in tents with water seeping up through the ground sheets. Their "homes"are held in place with rocks and stones. Each break in the weather, the blankets and clothing are thrown across the fences to drip dry, the shoes are piled high outside and the chance is taken to once again open the zipped doorways of the tents or open the shutters on the iISO-cabins to allow some air in to dry them out. There is no reprieve from the hard life, no chance to recuperate, to feel safe yet. And all this is while waiting...and waiting...and waiting , for months, for an answer as to when someone , somewhere makes a decision on your future.
We try to do what we can, but we are not so arrogant to believe it makes much of a difference. We give what we can, we offer offer what assistance we can, sometimes all we have is time... time to sit, talk, listen. We continue to run the night time cafe ( which we run with the "Friendly humans group, Samos) although depending on weather, it is sometimes a delivery of tea and coffee tent to tent, cabin to cabin. We have a small studio room , very basic, very cheap but its dry, its warm and we are safe there....that's the difference... We can go home if we are cold or wet afterwards. On better nights, we still put out chairs, socialize, play music, sit and talk . These nights are enjoyable, to see all nationalities, all ages, all religions and none sitting together, drinking tea together, sharing a shisha and sometimes even smiling. We try to each week hand out fruit, apples, pears, bananas etc at least one night to everyone in the camp. Now that the weather seems to be improving , we will also resume juice for the children as well as their playtime activities. Whenever possible and finances allow, we supply cookers, kettles, pots and pans, strollers, baby food and smoothies to all who need, again with Friendly Humans group, Samos.
We make regular trips to the port/airport to drop people off and stay with them while their paperwork is processed .. all small things but important.
It is thanks to good people we can do this, our regular friends and donaters that never let us down, our new friends that we meet all the time on line or in person. Those of you with brilliant ideas to help, those of you just giving us the mental support to keep going, to pass on their love to those more in need. People like Claire and Jeremy who this week are the reason many people, mainly the elderly, the children and females in the camp all now have personal torches , dynamo operated so no batteries needed, to stay safe on toilet trips or medical trips at night time. Thank you both and to all your friends, family and colleagues who contributed.
So please, if at all possible, continue in your support. We cover our own expenses, we do not take a salary, there are no administration charges coming out of your donations, what you give is towards those whose circumstances right now warrant our help... ALL of what you give.
SO Another full day of food shopping and collection and distribution for healthier, more nutritious food done for the minors in the camp. Another great supply of fruit and veg donated by the Archipelagos - Institute of Marine Conservation,their donators and supporters. Pasta, rice, milk,bread,tuna and lots more bought to supplement their weekly diet.
We are hoping this bad weather has stopped by tomorrow so we can resume our coffee nights, we also have bananas and apples for every one in the camp tomorrow night. All of this is achieved only thanks to your donations and support and we ,all of us, including those you help in the camp, are very very grateful.
For those of you who may not be familiar with our "cafe nights" below is a link to our first post of when we initiated it back in April 2016. Since then, we have had to adapt and be flexible at times. If the weather is too cold or wet, we regularly go cabin to cabin, tent to tent to offer a hot beverage to those seeking refuge in the camp. In better weather conditions we all try to sit together, share a coffee or tea, juice for the kids, skipping ropes, play games, watch sport or movies and afford us all a chance to socialise and talk to each other as equals. It is also an important initiative for those just arriving to feel a little bit welcome and find their feet ( so to speak). ( another 32 arrived last night) At least once a week, we try to have fruit ( apples, pears, bananas etc) to share also. It also gives us as volunteers a chance to enquire how everyone is doing, assess their needs and generally build relationships. These initiatives need your donations and support to continue and we ask again for your continued support to show humanity with us for those whose circumstances, through war and conflict are in need of friendship and solidarity right now with ... Venligboerne/Friendly Humans Samos
Click below for the original story of our "Cafe night".