Volunteer stories: Callum (Oct 17)
Having known relatively little about the refugee situation in Greece prior to our time there, saying the experience was eye-opening would be putting it lightly. The camp is just one of dozens set up by the EU, temporarily housing tens of thousands of refugees as they sit and wait on their future to be decided by faceless bureaucrats.
While most of the people we met showed resilient calm and a cautious optimism for the future, the mental and sometimes physical scars they had collected on their journeys were often impossible to hide. Even after battling through life threatening conditions to get to relative safety, for many refugees the state of limbo they then find themselves in is the hardest part of all. We met people that had been at the camp for upwards of 18 months already, and while a few do get lucky and get the chance to start their lives again in a new country, many others will be sent back to the hells that they fought so desperately to escape from.
For some this waiting is simply too much, as was evident at the port when we left Greece and the cat and mouse game we found ourselves in the middle of between local police and refugees desperately trying to smuggle themselves aboard ships by hiding under lorries bound for Italy in the hope that they will find freedom there.
Despite the media and governments like ours ongoing attempts to dehumanise these people, what is so important to remember is that they are human beings; men, women and children just like us that have fled their homes not because they wanted to, but because there was no other choice. Put simply, these are desperate people that have lost everything in their hunt for a better future for themselves and their families.
This is why the work of NGO’s like Refugee Support are so important. They provide aid and dignified support to those that have had their most basic human rights taken away from them. These organisations function almost entirely on the kindness of unpaid volunteers, extraordinary people who have given up huge chunks of their lives in the attempt to create some sense of normalcy in such extraordinarily tragic circumstances. The two weeks we spent there pales in comparison to the months that some people commit to.
Of course not everyone will get the opportunity to travel to a place like Greece and do what we did, and it may seem like a problem in a land far, far away for us Australians, leaving you thinking how someone like you could possibly help, but the fact is you can. We have seen first-hand were the donations of food, money and clothing go and the difference that it makes.
This is the defining moment of our time. The sad truth is that there have not been so many people displaced since World War II. Greece is not alone in managing this humanitarian crisis, even poorer nations like Bangladesh and Ethiopia are carrying the disproportionate weight of a world seemingly at constant war. If you cannot devote money or time, get involved, educate yourself and urge your government to act on your behalf. Turning a blind eye to this will lead only to further generations of segregated communities, ethnic tensions and never-ending social problems.
A massive thank you to everyone that has sent us their love and support while we have been at the camp. It was well and truly felt by Nicole and I :D. And if anyone else out there might like to donate some money they have lying around you can head to our donations page below. Every dollar goes a long way and is greatly appreciated.
Now everybody say LOVE! xxx