Surely if the men in camp didn’t want or need what we’re giving out, they wouldn’t use their valuable energy climbing to the top of the camp to get it? They wouldn’t join yet another line, when they already spend so much of their lives in one - for food, for asylum, for everything.
Standing outside in a dusty clearing following a simple and fair registration process so that more than 1,000 men can receive much-needed aid of t-shirt, trousers, underwear, socks and a jumper. This is our first day of distribution at the Vathy Refugee Camp on the Greek island of Samos where people are living in appalling conditions, without even the most basic services.
The area for today’s distro was on the left of camp right next to the road and closer to the town. Omar had already been through this area with the tarpaulins and lots of the tents feel bigger and more homely structures than in the other overspill area we were in yesterday. However, I also find this area much darker.
Today we spent the day with the brilliant team at Samos Volunteers. After learning the ropes in the laundry we headed to The Alpha Centre where more than 500 pass through their doors every day. They can drink tea, play games, read books, learn and charge their phones. When you walk into Alpha there are guys everywhere!
Another busy day in the Refugee 4 Refugees shop. The brand new bras and knickers for the women, as well as the jumpers, scarf and sleeping bags of course, are so popular and so we opened the doors at 9am to a queue outside and lots of new registrations (registrating people as Anne calls it!). It’s great because it means word has spread in the Camp and the women really want what we’re giving out.
As we drove from the volunteer house in the morning, I was struck again by the camp on the hillside. No more than a blip, a little strip of blue and white canvas above the town. When we give out tickets, not everyone shows up, but ‘show rates’ this week for the jumpers, socks, underwear, bra and sleeping bags / shelter suits has been about 80-90%. And there’s lots of women coming to register too.