Not What I Expected

 

October 6th, 2018

 

Moria is not what I expected. The day that I walked into camp was cloudy and the lines of people at the front gate extended quite a ways past Section A’s gate.  Congolese, Sudanese, Somalians, Syrians, Afghanis, all sorts of people standing for hours and waiting for their first bus out of the camp and off of the island. It turns out that I arrived on Lesvos at approximately the same time as families were ordered to move out and unaccompanied minors were to move in.  This change of demographic became very obvious as my week in Moria progressed.

The children who remained didn’t seemed phased by the dramatic change occurring.  The moment I walked into Section A, I was greeted by several small faces, all of them smiling, hugging, and holding my hands.  I quickly discovered their restlessness. The kids in Moria are desperate for attention and they have the intuition that foreign volunteers are most likely to give it to them.

The women housed in Section C are a completely different story.  I visited them only once but what I gathered was that they are much more aware of their situation in Moria than the children.  What I was told was that some days the women were more than willing to talk, laugh, and dance. The day that I was with them was a peaceful, retrospective day for the women.  They preferred to focus on perfecting their manicures.  

My favorite day in Moria was my fifth.  It was clear that most of our families had already moved out or were in the process of moving out that day.  Who we found in their places were unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan. These friendly teenage boys became my friends.  After getting to know just a handful of them, they all rallied together and attended their first English lesson in the camp, and I was the teacher!  With no professional training, I did my best. Our classroom was completely full with the smiling faces of these wonderful boys. Some were obviously nervous to speak a different language than their own (Farsi), but for most of the boys, their eagerness outweighed their fears.  The most memorable part of the lesson was when they learned, “I am going to (place).” Their answers included, “Paris! Italy! New York! Germany! Las Vegas! Berlin!” I couldn’t help but feel excited for them and for each of their individual aspirations.  

I have continued making friends with these boys through card games, volleyball, and English tutoring.  In return, they have taught me a tiny bit of Farsi. Most importantly, they have given me the desire to learn how to teach English professionally.  

There are many wonderful things about Lesvos, Greece: the food, the people, the cute bell towers, the sun, the fashion, etc.  To me, none of them compare to the relationships I’ve built here on this tiny corner of the globe. It seems that I cannot give out enough smiles and “salaam’s” before I leave.  I sincerely wish that I could stay for a full three-month program. Perhaps it was in my best interest to stay for only two weeks; I’m not sure if my smiles are endless. Even though the quantity of my time here has been short, the quality has been priceless.

I have four more days on Lesvos and I fully intend to cherish each of them with purpose.  The last 11 days have passed by in a blur and the friends that I have made on my team and in the camp have filled my time with joy.  The happiness found in Moria, however, can be deceiving at times because we know that each refugee’s journey has not been easy in the least.  Still, there is comfort in realizing that I am able to make someone’s day a bit brighter and a bit less dull.  

Ultimately, all I can do is hope my friends will find success, satisfaction, and joy in their lives no matter where they end up.  I hope for this with my entire heart.        

 

-Megan Eddington, Greece Volunteer