From Greece to Germany: Working In the Refugee Crisis
I am in writing this from Berlin, Germany, where I just spent the day visiting more refugee camps and shelters. I’m at the tail end of my 5-week journey in Europe helping the refugees.
I am so weary, and yet so uplifted.
I started out on this journey on Jan 22nd on Lesvos, Greece, freezing cold. My hotel had no heating and no hot water. I spent those early days freezing at Moria Refugee Camp wearing 5 layers of everything I owned. I woke up everyday with a seering pain in my throat that kept getting worse.
I left my roommates, moved into town and found a flat that had a functional heater and hot water. GOLD. Little by little I got better and healthier. I wrote more blogs and took my pictures. I Periscoped more. I learned that it was ok to spend some of my time on my technology capturing the stories, because this is what I’m good at and how I felt useful.
For my third week, I went up North. This was the week that almost no refugees came. I helped to clean the beaches littered with rubber boats and life jackets. They stretched on for miles and miles.
HOW CAN THIS BE?!
I learned about how a few months ago this little village of 180 residents was receiving 1000 refugees everyday. There were only 7 volunteers back then. Now there are 100.
My fourth week (last week), I was joined by a fellow prolific Periscoper, Amrit Singh (ofNow Humanity) and it was the culmination of everything I’d learned. I knew where to take him so that we could capture the most powerful footage. I knew how the refugee meta-network worked. I felt so purposeful. We did for 4 night watches together and helped 6 boats arrive onto the shores of Lesvos from Turkey. These boats were full of mothers, fathers, children and babies.
So many of the refugees asked for selfies when they arrived. Others would lay on the ground shivering cold as volunteers wrapped thermal blankets around them. I had still hear the cries, the cheers, the screams, the phone calls home. In that last 8 days, I’d estimate that we reached 30,000 live viewers through our broadcasts...
Now I’m in Berlin, the end point for refugees. The journey from Greece to Germany spans 2000 miles. I feel a sense of relief when I see refugees who’ve made it here.
They are still alive. Still smiling.
But their journey is not over. They may have to wait months in limbo, in meagre conditions at refugee camps in Germany.
The politics behind why all of this is happening is deep and convoluted. Honestly, it disheartens me to learn more the war in Syria. I don’t want to know who is bombing who. The darkness is so vast...
WHY IS OUR WORLD LIKE THIS?!
How is this cup of tea handed out to a refugee in Greece going to solve any world problems?!
I don’t have the answer to that. I can only choose where I will put my next step.
So I inhale. And exhale.
Inhale compassion. Exhale fear.
Inhale empathy. Exhale judgement.
Inhale faith. Exhale courage.
I understand that I cannot fix everything, but I can have the courage to do my part.
At least someone's hands are warm because I gave them a cup of tea.
INFINITE LOVE from Berlin,
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