RETRACING THE REFUGEE ROUTE: DAY 3 TO GEVGELIJA

02/05/18

CO-FOUNDER PAUL HUTCHINGS

It was another early start to get some miles in before the sun got too high and some of the local teenagers who had been up all night joined in our warm up session before we set off around the lake. This upbeat start was helped by being in beautiful countryside.


Here are a few more of my fellow walkers.

Anne works with the very active CARE in Warrington who collect, sort and distribute aid. After seeing a talk by John, she volunteered at Katsikas during a difficult time. Her serene presence at the camp when we were trying to bed in new systems was just what was needed. Now she’s walking with us while she takes a break from her ongoing walk around the entire coast of Britain.

May is here with tree surgeon partner Richard and she’s reconnecting with the refugee issue in Europe after volunteering at Idomeni in 2015. Everyone who spent time at that place needs to find a way to come to terms with the inhumanity of it. Ignore the sad faces in this photo, she has a huge sense of fun and is even considering continuing this walk all the way to Germany! If she does it, she will need help so look out for future requests.

It is a real joy to have two of our trustees along. Our other trustee Mike was deeply disappointed he couldn’t make it for unavoidable reasons. Rana was born and raised in Jordan and is now a Canadian citizen working in a solar investment company in Dubai. We rely on her sound business sense and deep desire to help refugees.

Bea Shrewsbury is our other trustee and this successful walk was her idea. I was initially skeptical which just shows I need to listen to her more! Not only that but when we did a podcast to talk about our plans, that persuaded another walker, Barry, to sign up. Bea’s mother was a Jewish refugee from Germany and she is testament to what can happen when you offer refuge to people who are suffering persecution.

With such glorious countryside, sunshine and fantastic company it sounds like a great holiday but thoughts of the refugee route are always top of mind. I can’t stop seeing deeply symbolic images all around.

And now we have arrived at Gevgelija where a transit camp was seeing up to 7,000 refugees a day passing through on their way to Serbia. This photo essay gives a good sense of the people’s awful struggle at the camp’s peak.

About halfway through the day we walked past this impotent gate. It was so ineffective, maybe it was a statement? The gate is Europe’s attempt to keep people out but it will never work. It just says we don’t want you and we will make your crossing harder. But they will continue to walk past it.

Total: 19km