Nea Kavala, day five, Monday, 13th of August 2018

My schedule today:

Women’s Space
Gardening project

I was asked to help at the English classes that are organised by We Are Here, another organisation that works at the camp and Dråpen i Havet cooperates with.

Women’s Space, Foto Andrea Koltermann

They offer English classes for women in different levels and had asked me to help with filling the sheets and teaching pronunciation for the new ones and sometimes give them some private coachings to them who needed most.

These buildings were made by NGos and refugees, Foto: Andrea Koltermann

There are 22 women and teenage girls in the class and they have a lot of fun. Learning English is a big challenge for Arabic people. I understood this a few days ago, when a guy from Syria gave me a lesson Arabic weekdays. Arabic people use to read from right to left side and all their letters look different from our letters.

Wochentage auf Arabisch
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Usually the woman at the camp are very shy. Most of the time communication is mens task, but later that day I meet some women of the German class again. They are smiling, happy to meet me. Some even sway at me and call “hello teacher!”
I’m so happy about this and I’m really looking forward to the next lessons tomorrow.

Garten Projekt 1
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

In the evening we do a gardening project with children.

It is so amazing to see the positive energy in so many of the people and children ! (S.L., volunteer from Norway)

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

The children don’t want to get their clothes dirty. Also I don’t want to.

Do something together, burrow, play with water and make some buildings of sand, that’s a funny way to communicate even if you don’t speak any common language.

Children in Arabic cultures.
Growing up in an Arabic culture is very different from the usual experiences children make in our western cultures.
Often families use to live together in large families. Grandparents and older sisters take care for the smaller children. Having four or more children is not uncommon. In many families the women are 10 to 15 years younger than their husbands and start bearing children at young age.
Even very small children play outside the houses all day long. If something happens everyboby would help them. Communities take care for everyone’s wellbeing. Turned out of their family structure by the flight many people feel unsure in their parenting skills.

The winter in Greece will become cold.

Polycastro, day four, Sunday, 12th of August 2018

Day off

Today is our day off. In the morning I have a late and long breakfast at the hotel and watch TV. Big discussions about asylum for refugees take place in Germany. It seems that only these people that have a very good education would ever have any chance.—der-streit-ums-einwanderungsgesetz-100.html

Some volunteers and I spend the afternoon at the skra waterfall in the mountains near the border to Makedonia.

You could swim in a small lake next to the waterfall. To take a bath in the 12 degrees cold water is great while it’s 32 degrees outside.

zum Skra Wasserfall
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

On our way back, we are stopped by the police. They ask for our documents and who the car is from. I ask myself: “Does our Italian driver look like a refugee with his black hair?”

Nea Kavala, day three, Saturday, 11th of August 2018

My schedule today:

Vincente warehouse
Feeling meeting

This morning some volunteers meet at the warehouse. Donations that are not immediately needed are stored here. The organisation always collects the items until they have enough of every sort before they get offered in the shop. So, they avoid jealousy and conflicts among the residents.

Foto: Isabel Sevé

In the afternoon I work in the laundry again. One of our volunteers and two residents are playing backgammon in front of the laundry container. Children are watching them carefully.

Wäscherei Backgammon
Foto: Andrea Koltermann
schreiben in arabisch
Foto: Andrea Koltermann
Andrea auf arabisch
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

A young man from Syria writes my name in Arabic letters. They only use consonants, no vocals.

 The time seems to stand still. The people have a lot of spare time and seem to be happy to have some distraction. A young man from Afrika tells me in french that he is bored with waiting and he really wants to work.

Speaking the same language makes communication easier.

A volunteer is making a goodbye gift for a long-term-coordinator who will be leaving today.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

In the afternoon all volunteers are invited to participate in a feelings-meeting. The coordinators are eagerly interested in our wellbeing.

Feelings Meeting
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

This evening is reserved for a long-term coordinators goodbye party. She had been team coordinator for the Dråpen i Havet volunteers at Nea Kavala for one year. The owner of a nice cafe in Axioupolis cooks a delicious dinner for all of us.

Nea Kavala, day two, Friday, 10th of August 2018

My schedule today:

Volunteer meeting
Community space/sports

In the morning we have a team meeting and get instructions of what to do in case of an emergency. If an emergency occurs, our safety is always priority number one, even if it means leaving the camp so that equipment or buildings could get destroyed. That makes all of us volunteers feel very safe at the camp.

Community Space
Foto: Isabel Sevé

After the meeting I’m scheduled to the job at the laundry again.

Laundry Socialising
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

A young woman who speaks fluently German has a special request: Her husband is badly injured and has open wounds and therefore he needs extra clean sheets washed at 90 degrees. They both use to live and work in Germany. Because his mother was very ill he left Germany without any permission. When he tried to go back home he had an accident and now he is badly injured. Because of this he is not able to travel to Athens to get the new visa for Germany. Now he lives at Nea Kavala. And because he is not registered in Greece, there is no doctor responsible for him. A teacher from Germany help’s them by writing an email to the German embassy, but it will take a while to get an answer.

the language connects people

In a strage way I feel connected to the young couple, even if I don’t know them. Is it pehaps because they live in Germany and we speak the same language?

Baby malt
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

In the afternoon we do some handcrafts and play games with children. I am told to take care that they don’t take away all off the stickers. One boy puts a cute little baby on my table to let her do some paintings. The one-year-old girl knows how to use a pen and draws nice circles on the paper.

Vier Alibabas und die Aufkleber
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

I am very surprised about that, but the stickers are gone by some “Alibabas”. That’s a game the boys love to play.

Basteln und Malen
Foto: Andrea Koltermann
Tanzen vor dem Drop Shop
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Evening mood at Nea Kavala. Refugees and volunteers dancing in front of the Drop Shop.

Nea Kavala, day one, Thursday, 9th of August 2018

My schedule today:

Check out at the market

Today I meet Molly, the Dråpen i Havet volunteer coordinator at Nea Kavala and get my induction to my work. Everything is very well organised over here. Molly introduces the new volunteers to the rules and shows us our workplaces.

Wegweiser im Camp
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

There is the Drop Shop where the inhabitants get clothes and some basic foods from. You can also find a laundry, a sewing workshop and a service station where the build and repair workshops take place. Especially during school holidays a huge range of leisure facilities take place that are taken care of volunteers.

Dropshop Nea kavala
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

My first job today is in the Drop Shop. It’s funny. Every two weeks the people  get several ”Drops”, that is the name of the cryptocurrency of the camp. The most favourite articels are T-shirts and shorts but also soap and toothbrushes.

Drop Shop
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

In the Drop Shop there is a good mood, mainly the teenage girls have a lot of fun. I feel like being at an Arabic bazar.

At the check-out desk there are sometimes discussions between the volunteers and the residents when they don’t have enough points to buy everything they want. We are lucky to have some refugee volunteers that help us translating.
The Drop Shop is a place to socialise, I talk to many people.

At lunch a small boy is sitting in our Community Space. He tells me he wants to go to Germany to be a policeman, when he was older. I teach him counting in German, write it on a piece of paper and ask him to practice it. I’ll see if he comes back for more lessons.

My second job today is at the laundry. Our task is to give the people appointments for using the washing machines. If you have two children, you may claim two wash cycles within two weeks.

Terminvergabe laundry
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Everything is limited and documented in an EDV system.

A young man is late and gets a little bit angry because we could not give him another appointment the same day. His friends talk to him to calm him down. Other men watching this situation come over and apologise for the behaviour of their friend.

Volleyball, Abendstimmung
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

The late afternoon seems to be the nicest time of the day. The refugees and volunteers play volleyball in front of the Drop Shop. There are many children and they are all allowed to join.

Abendstimmung, Musik
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

It’s a very good mood over here. Music is coming out of a box that is standing on a car and some volunteers are dancing with the children.