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:

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.

Meine Vorbereitungen, Juli 2018

Es wird konkret

Meine Tochter ist aus ihrem Mallorca-Urlaub zurückgekommen. Auf meine Ankündigung hin, dass ich mich in einem Flüchtlingslager engagieren möchte, reagiert sie mit folgenden Worten: “Das wolltest du ja schon immer machen!”

Mithilfe einer Bekannten finde ich die Organisation Dråpen I Havet, eine international arbeitende Organisation mit Sitz in Norwegen und melde mich dort als Volunteer an.

Mein Sohn kommt zu Besuch. Auf meine Ankündigung, dass ich in einem Auffanglager für Flüchtlinge arbeiten werde, reagiert er genauso gelassen, als hätte ich ihm erzählt, ich müsse noch zum Bäcker.

Bevor es losgeht, heißt es für mich, meine Reserven aufzutanken. Wir haben zwei Wochen Familienurlaub auf dem Naturcampingplatz auf Terschelling gebucht. Ohne Strom aber mit fließendem Wasser, direkt am Wald und nur zwei Kilometer vom Meer entfernt.

Meine ToDo-Liste

  • Ein Flüchtlingscamp auswählen
  • Flug und Hotel buchen
  • Eine Webseite für meinen Blog einrichten
  • Meine Mutter besuchen und ihr von meinem Vorhaben berichten
  • Seminartermine mit meinen wichtigsten Kunden vereinbaren