Nea Kavala‚ day ten, Saturday 18th of August 2018

My schedule today:

Making boxes at hangar
Sewing project
Feelings Meeting

After having packed new boxes with donated clothes at the big old hangar today I assist the sewing project. We’ve got four sewing machines and the people can arrive and make or repair their own clothes. Today there are two women and eight men.

The atmosphere is bustling. Arabic music is coming out of a resident’s mobile phone.

Näh-Workshop 1
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Two men are shortening trousers. A young couple askes for an elastic band. Unfortunately, we don’t have any. Another man is looking for white sewing thread instead of the black one. I could help him out for that. He smiles at me and gives the thread on to the trained Kurdish tailor.

A tattered shirt pocket gets stitched down, bedsheets are getting tailored to the desired size.

A torn open pillow gets patched, an oversized sweater gets sewed tighter. Often the men’s clothes donated from Western Europe are too big for the Kurdish and Syrian men.

Näh-Workshop 1
Foto: Andera Koltermann

A man got tailored a wall hanging for his container made from an old shirt. The people here in the camp are very spare an and creative with what they have.

A 16 years old boy enters with a bag. I ask if I could help him. He lets me know, that he can operate with sewing machines. He had started an apprenticeship to become a tailor but had to abort it after eight months because he had to escape from the war. The boy knows how to use needle and thread and he also knows to use the sewing machine. He is not as trained and as quick as these grown up tailors, but he loves to do repair works for a friend of him in the camp. One could see the great result of his work.

Another young man from Syria comes in and tells me that he had sewed on buttons on shirts in a factory at his homeplace. He’d love to learn how to work with a sewing machine.

While I am cutting out small cleaning rags for the kindergarten out of a remaining remnant, he asks me if anyone could help him to shorten some clothes. We ask one of the trained Kurdish tailors who is happy to help.

After some time, the young Syrian places himself in front of a sewing machine. The Kurdish trainee is helping him. A few minutes later he proudly presents his first self-made seam.

You can clearly see and feel how good the people feel to do some useful work, even if they don’t get any money. They are just working as volunteers like we do. In the community there can be seen a great together. Even though there are people out of several different countries and different reasons at the camp and even if the turnover rate is very high, it is a village where people live together.

Nähmaschine, weiß pink
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Today there are no children allowed in the room that is usually the school. But for a teen carefully looking into the room and showing me his flat cycle tire I find a pomp.

Even the sewing room is kind of place to socialise.

We can’t communicate with the refugees a lot, because they hardly speak any English. Also, my English skills to the topic sewing and textiles are rather rudimentary so we often communicate in sign language.

Näh-Workshop 4
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

At four o’clock some women of my English class are waiting in front of the door. They are exited. Soon they are writing their English test in the library next door. Whoever passes the test can move on to level two on Monday. If they pass I won’t be able to see them in my class on Monday. I’ll be teaching a new group of beginners. Which is nice but also sad at the same time because my women got a special place in my heart.

Speaking the same language makes communication much easier!

Every Saturday evening, we have our feeling meeting. We get two questions we must answer, first what our highlight was of the last week and second what had made us think.

My highlight had been to see that so many women were going to do the English test. What really made me think was that at camp people were almost dying while we were painting the shop.

Nea Kavala, day nine, Friday, 17th of August 2018

My schedule today:

Painting market
Laundry

It is very hot in Greece in summer. The people like to sit in the shadow between two containers.

Schatten zwischen Containern
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Also Cookie likes shadow. He is one of the dogs living at camp whom volunteers and refugeers take care of. He made himself for sleeping a hole in the sandy groung like the den of a fox.

Cookie
Foto: Isabel Sevé

As most people love shopping also many residents do. We want them to have some nice moments in their sad lives. I paint the children’s shoe shelf with blue and green colours and decorate it with flower motives.

Schuhregal
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

At the laundry I speak to a woman who tells me, that her son had stomacheache. Some other people had told us the day before and the volunteers already had stopped drinking water from the tap. The woman was holding her belly because of asthma. Could I give some lessons in relaxed breathing? I ask myself.

A teacher from Republique Congo is sitting  at out table. For two years he is waiting to get his documents. At the camp he had been volunteering as an interpreter for the helenic red cross. He wants to go to France to finish his studies and organise the reunion with his two teenage daughters that still live in Africa.

Laundry
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

A farmer is burning something on his field. The fire is getting bigger and bigger. The residents at the camp are very afraid because of this. Carfully they watch the situation. I can imagine how they must feel. Losing their containers would mean losing everything they own for another time. I have no idea from what material the containers were made but the additional building are wooden and it hasn’t been raining for weeks.

Policemen are coming to calm the residents down and send the children away. I want to close down the laundry and leave the camp but my collegue askes me to wait a bit. The wind was going to the opposite direction.

Much time later the brigade is arriving. The firefighting operations take quite a long time.

warm blankets for Nea Kavala, Donations here:

https://needslist.co/nlclaim/1400/add/20

Nea Kavala‚ day eight, Thursday, 16th of August 2018

Day off

On our day off a volunteer from Catalonia and I take the Intercity bus to Thessaloniki.

Hafen von Thessaloniki
Foto: Andea Koltermann

We visit the harbour, take a walk through the city.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

We visit some old Romains buildings over there and a typical market hall.

Thessaloniki
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

While having a cup of coffee at the waterside I try to write down some answers to the questions that I had received from my friends the last days.

“Which possibilitys do NGO’s have to help refugees in Greece?”

What we can do while working here as a volunteer is to make the daily live a little bit more comfortable and easier. Six days a week the Dråpen i Havet volunteers help with distribution of fresh fruit and vegetables. They also sell some dry food and donated clothes, that refugees can buy with a cryptocurrency called Drops.

Lebensmittel
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

They run a laundry where the residents can wash their clothes. During the summer in the evenings residents and volunteers do fun sport activities like volleyball in the community space.

Fahrradverleih
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

The organisation runs bike rentals for refugees and a build and repair workshop.

Reparaturwerkstatt
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Most of the buildings like this canopy were self-made by refugees and volunteers.

We Are Here 2
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

The cooperating organisation We Are Here runs sport and childcare activities, gives English lessons and yoga classes to women, and starts gardening projects for all ages.

We Are Here
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

There is also a library where the refugees can borrow books two times a week.

There is the Childrens Friendly Place, where a young social worker and some volunteers play with them.

ChildrensFriemdlyPlace
Foto: Isabel Sevé

Do the people already speak a little bit English or German?

Some people do, at most countrys they learn English at school but because of war and flight some children couldn’t visit school for a long time.

Will these people be able to leave the camp and to move to other countries?

Many people told me, that they wanted to go to Germany, to France, to Sweden or to some other places but first they needed visa. Some had been waiting at Nea Kavala for two years. Leaving Greece was not easy. Staying at Greece was almost impossible because there were hardly any jobs.

One guy had told me that he had been offered a job for a salary of € 13 / day at Thessaloniki harbour. After a few months he had stopped this hard work because living at Thessaloniki would cost much more than he had earned. Some companies really seem to exploit refugees.

Nobody knows if these people will ever get the possibility to get asylum in Greece or to get visa to move to another country. Some people have been waiting here for two years. One man had told me up to now he had allready done seven interviews at the Greek authorities and there was still no decision.

Is it frustrating to work at a refugee camp or do you think volunteering at Nea kavala is doing a good job?

Sometimes it is very frustrating, because there are no future prospects. Many times ask myself, if it makes any sense to be here, but when I see what NGOs had built up within the last to years I know that we do a good job. Every little piece of help is a drop in the ocean. And very drop makes a difference. That’s the Drop in the Ocean’s philosophie.

Nea Kavala two years ago:

1500 people in tents without water, no money for clothes…

After reading this I understood the worth of our work over here.

http://travellingbureau.blogsport.eu/2016/07/24/nea-kavala/

warm blankets for Nea Kavala, Donations here:

https://needslist.co/nlclaim/1400/add/20

Nea Kavala, day seven, Wednesday, 15th of August 2018

My schedule today:

Women’s Space
Sewing project
Gardening project

Nähmaschine
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Somebody broke in into our shop and stole some sewing machines. The self-made buildings are not safe, and the police and the military didn’t notice anything. Volunteers and refugees are very sad about this.

A man from Africa mounts a new lock onto our door.  Helping hand are always easy to find over here.

The sewing project doesn’t take place today.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Gardening in Nea Kavala means to let children learn how to use utensils like shovel, spade, bucket and watering can. It’s not really expected to get any harvest from seedings. Because they had lived in a country with war or because they were fleeing these children had never had any possibility to play like other children. The most important thing this evening is, that the children and also the volunteers and the parents have a lot of fun. At the end of the day, four children are sitting upon the sink to wash themselves.

Gießkannen, Gartenprojekt
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

“Children in a refugee camp

Most children are very skilled in climbing, but they are delayed in their other development. First, they need to learn how to play. Often, they just wander around the street or are watching the adults. Unfortunately, there is not much interesting or informative things for them to see.”

My roommate
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Today my good friend and roommate leaves Nea Kavala and goes back to Norway. Many evenings We’ve been talking about our experiences we made over here. Volunteering at a refugee camp is not always easy, but we agree that it is a very good experience. I will miss her.

Dropen i Havet needs more volunteers. In this video volunteers tell about their experiences at Nea Kavala.
https://www.facebook.com/drapenihavet/videos/164763401111932/

 

Nea Kavala, day six, Tuesday, 14th of August 2018

My schedule today:

Women’s Space
Laundry
Gardening project

A friend had asked me to describe how people used to live at the camp and what their future prospects were.

Imagine a small village with one long street on a never used military airport runway. Along this road there are built about 160 containers.

Rollfeld Nea Kavala
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Syrian artists painted the sanitary buildings to give some colour to the tristness of the refugee camp.

A few weeks ago, they had added a big army tent with small sleeping cabins to give another 100 people space. At the camp there are lliving about 750 people.

Armeezelt
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

While I am taking some morning mood pictures, a man from Iraq comes to talk to me. He tells me, how difficult it was living at the camp. It would be dirty, he shows me that he was bitten by many mosquitos and he complains that there was almost no possibility to get medical help when needed. He had been over here for about two years waiting for documents to leave the camp.

I would like to help him if I could.

Waschräume
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

The service buildings are usually cleaned regularly but they are very scabby. The plumbing’s are rotten, they have many lacks. At some places the plumbs are missing, and the water runs to the ground.

The camp would need an installer to repair many of the pipes, but I’ve never seen anyone doing work like this.

This camp is meant to be temporary, so these little aesthetic repairs probably would never be done.

Because of this temporary concept there is not one flower planted in the whole camp.

Women's Space, English class
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

“I love giving English lessons at the Women’s Space.”

It is the second time for me to work at the women’s English class this noon. At the camp they offer English classes level one and two for women six days a week. Level three takes place in mixed groups for men and women. Only a few women visit them because often their husbands don’t allow them visiting classes together with other men.

Treffpunkt Laundry
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

The afternoon I work at the laundry, that is one of my favoured jobs. As the days before many people, mostly young men come to sit next to us in front of the laundry. They like to talk.

Mostly done communication content is smaltalk, “How are you?”
“Where do you come from?”, ” How long have you been here?” The answer to the first question normaly is “fine, how are you?”. That like it’s used to in USA, I don’t know if people would do in their own language.

A young Syrian tries to communicate by speaking into his mobile phone and letting an online translator write a translation. That seems to be a good idea, but many times the translation doesn’t make any sense.

One guy was just returned from his language class at Polycastro and asks me to help him with his English homework.

Hausaufgaben
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Bit by bit I’m starting to really like everyone around here. They are all so hearty. Among the inhabitants of the camp there are many children and young man in my sons age.

I think that many of these young men could get a job in Germany if they would ever get a visa. They are so polite, and they really would like to learn and to work.

The big difference between these young people and my own children is that my children have had a save childhood, and now they are grown up and just have to choose their way of living.

Icecold winds from Sybiria will bring a cold winter to Greece. Donations for blankets and sleeping bags:

 https://www.facebook.com/donate/1959933580764422/10217188784373006/