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.

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