Dr. Gabrielle Steinberg, Dr. TCM, R.Ac, RHN

A day in the life of Lesvos…

Refugee Camp Moria- It is a world of hopes and a world of desperation

 

I have seen faces whose eyes speak volumes of the horrific experiences they have gone through. I have seen the kind eyes of a grandmother, the worried eyes of a father, the comradery and commitment between friends, the confused face of a young child. I have spoken with people who have expressed their dreams of finding peace and security- both financially and in their lives. Most know that the future will be extremely difficult and uncertain for them

​whether​ they are able to get into the EU and apply for asylum or ​whether​ they are forced to go back home to their dangerous countries.

I smile much of the time here because… to see a traumatized face or a face frozen with past memories relax into a smile is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

Sharing a word or two with someone even if we do not speak the same language goes such a long ways in helping feel the humanity, the heart connection that is possible between us though our lives are worlds apart.

Today I worked at the tea tent starting at 7am and we were commenting on how the day seemed quieter than other days. This gave us time to get to know each other more- we are a group from Switzerland, US, Canada, Mauritius, Pakistan, Germany… Then a bus full of refugees who just got off a boat in quite dangerous conditions arrives.   They are freezing cold, most without shoes as they were left at the beach or lost in the water during their crossing. The boat’s engine had failed over an hour before and it was also slowly filling with water, so they were forced to drift towards the rocky and dangerous beach where they landed. Had there not been volunteers there, called by local Greeks who had seen the boat approaching, there would have been a lot of casualties and for sure deaths.

Some of these people were shaking so hard they could barely hold the cup of hot tea I was giving to them. One young mother who was shaking uncontrollably kept getting food and then turned to give it to others.

Who knows the last time they had eaten much. Some refugees must wait days on the Turkish side, hiding from police with no proper shelter, no food except what they may have on them, until the smugglers get them onto a boat. The smugglers are often violent and force people on even if they no longer want to at that time.

Later, as I was cleaning around the camp, I see a group of these new arrivals and it is good to see them with fresh dry and warm clothes and settling down.

I popped in to the children’s tent to drop off some donations of things to craft and with. Here the small children can come and really be kids again. It is a small safe area and it temporarily removes them from the gritty reality of their situation. They giggle, draw, play and build little things here…. Some of the children’s drawings shockingly reflect the trauma they have experienced in their lives. It is so sad.

Tonight I work midnight til 10am waiting for boats. It is likely to be busier with arrivals tonight as last night was far too windy for boats to come. We will be waiting with blankets, tea, first aid, dry clothes and help shuttle them to Moria.

Tomorrow I work at the medical tent giving massage, aromatherapy and acupuncture.

 

Volunteers work with dedication and love long 9- 16 hour shifts and sometimes will go from one job to the next. There is ALWAYS SO MUCH TO DO!!

I have seen firsthand that it is the small groups of volunteers and the independent volunteers willing to do anything at any time that do most of the work here. The larger NGOs have far too much bureaucracy and red tape to get things done quickly and effectively be fluid as situations change.

 

The thing is here, the situation changes very quickly. Rules about refugees in different EU countries change, the number of people stuck at the camp because they cannot get registered is growing and many are stuck because they have no money, tensions build, small riots happen and then get peaceful again, we give out of food, shelters get built or changed in minutes, clothing is sorted and handed out and even washed…. All this done efficiently by INDEPENDENT, small volunteer groups and small NGOs.

If you can, please support the work been done here for the refugees by donating. I can give you a list of some of the groups ​that are doing invaluable work​ if you like, just message me.

I also have my GoFundMe campaign that I will keep active as long as I am here. If I pass my goal, all the better! More to help out! Donations can be great gifts when made in someone’s name for the Christmas season this year. The people here need financial support to keep helping as much as possible.

 

Namaste. Thanks for being incredible people in my life. Your love and support is amazing.