Nea Kavala‚ day fourteen, Wednesday, 22th of August 2018

My schedule today:

Women’s space, English class
Check out market

A small boy who had told us a few days ago that he would move alone to Belgium to live with his uncle and aunt the following day. Now he is still at the camp. He tells me that he was only waiting for his passport, and then he would have to leave. But it was not really sure if he would leave. He seemed to be sad. The boy speaks a little bit English but no French. I ask him if he’d know his uncle and aunt, but he didn’t understand my question.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

In the big community area there is a fire drill practiced by the military and the fire brigade. They make a fire in a grill and everybody who wants can try out the powder fire extinguisher. The children have a lot of fun. I ‘m happy to see this. I know that the people are very afraid of fire. Losing their homes again for them would mean to lose everything they have for another time.

Commuinty Space
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

I meet the mother and daughter whom I visited the day before again at the English class. They try their very best to speak and write in English, and they make fantastic progress.

Today is my second to the last day at Nea Kavala. I have my lunch break. A young man from Syria comes to sit down with me at the community space. You can clearly see, he isn’t going very well. He shows me some strange scarring’s on his arms and legs. As much as I understand those were caused by torture of his imprisonment for one year. He had pains but here at camp there wouldn’t be a doctor to care for him. He tells me in his cracked English that he has been here for five weeks now after he was imprisoned for one year.

Will the people at Nea Kavala ever get any chance in their live? Will they get the possibility to start a new life somewhere else. Or will they be refugees without any home? Will Nea Kavala turn into a long-term camp for people without any other perspectives? That is not the idea of Nea Kavala, but could this get possible? Will the people get used to live here?

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Some refugees already started to run their own business at the camp.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

My last gardening evening.
I see a small boy playing with a toy-machine gun. I’m startled. First he appeals to something else, later he directs it towards the other playing children. His mother gave it to him. Nobodys shows any reaction. This seems to be normal over here.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

I’ll miss the children and their parents.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Living at a camp like Nea Kavala gives people the chance to feel safe for the first time after many years making experiences of war and violence.
But how long?

Nea Kavala‚ day thirteen, Tuesday, 21th of August 2018

My schedule today:

Women’s Space, English class
Check out Market

Our coordinator Molly gives us an update of the political situation in Greece
(21th of August 2018)

  • Because of increased crossing the Evros around 6000 had stuck in the Balkans
  • Lesvos has now exceeded 10000 refugees which is a record. People are sleeping on the streets
  • Push backs from the EU are also gaining momentum
  • The agreement is that EU countries can send people back but must loosen restrictions on family reunification applications
  • Greece has no capacity left, there is no place for returned people to go. Families and unaccompanied minors will not be returned to Greece
  •  Nearly 60000 refugees in Greece as of June this year
  •  They won’t be returned to the islands

For aktuell information read:

Today a young colleague of mine and I are invited to the container of a Syrian family of my English class. It is cosy inside. The family consisting out of six members share two about 10 qm rooms in there. In the first room there are two fridges, a small place to cook and four beds.

Bunte Container
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

In the second room there are three big mats. The Muslim family celebrates Eid today, which is a day on which usually the extended families meets up, celebrates, dances and eat together. We sit down on the ground with the mother and the three daughters trying pita bread with a sauce consisting mayonnaise and garlic. Besides we also have crumbled egg and wine leaves filled with rice.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Considering that there are not much food choices at the camp the mother and the daughters have made fancy food. We would love to stay longer, but unfortunately, we only have half an hour lunchbreak today.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Quickly the youngest daughter shows us how talented she is. Besides being able to cook she is very good in drawing and besides being able to speak Arabic she also speaks Turkish, English and a few sentences French. I hope that the very best for this nice family.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

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

Nea Kavala‚ day twelve, Monday, 20th of August 2018

My schedule today:

Women’s Space

I leave Pigi and go back to the hotel at Polycastro. The others decide to stay at the house and drive the 25 km to the camp every day. I prefer staying at the Hotel in the nearby city.

Today my parcel had arrived after a delay of one week. There are T-shirts and other shirts in it which got too small for my son. So that is exactly the size that was missing over here. I also had packed two first aid boxes.

English class
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

Today there are two new entrants at my English class. Eight women went over to class level two. One of the new women has big problems following the lessons. I understand, that she had never written our letters before, so I sit down next to her and practise writing the letter A.

Der Buchstabe A
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

After a few minutes she copies it, it is lying on its side, but it definitely is an A. We continue with the other letters of the alphabet and she is so happy.

At the afternoon I work at the laundry again. I’m hungry, because I haven’t eaten for hours. I’m getting myself some sweet cakes and an ice coffee frappe at a Kurdish take away which is served by a refugee.

Falafel Imbiss
Foto: Andrea Koltermann

The making is very easy. A spoon full of Nescafé powder is getting mixed with a third cup of ice-cold water and then gets foamed up. This tastes incredibly delicious and it is more refreshing at this heat than hot coffee. He also makes delicious falafel.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

This evening it rains for the first time. Two children and I make a rain dance outside the laundry. Later at the gardening project we see a rainbow and the children enjoy a lot.

Foto: Andrea Koltermann

I love the evening mood at Nea Kavala.

Would you like to live as a refugee?

You spend the whole day together with people you get to know better and better. It feels like being part of their community, but at the evenings you leave the camp, drive back to your hotel and after a couple of weeks you take the bus to the airport, you go back to your home …

And the refugees have to stay.

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

My schedule today:

Women’s Space
Sewing project
Gardening project

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.


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

My schedule today:

Women’s Space
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.

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.

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.

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: