Journal update from Jill on Team 23
Last day in Greece
Our last day in Greece. Learned today that this is the coldest it has been in Greece for 54 years. We believe it! Had breakfast, then headed to the camp.
We wanted to finish the sorted room and make a path in the unsorted room. Mission accomplished! Today was going to be movie day at the camp, which is a BIG deal. Sam (from the NGO Bridge2Refugees that supports the camp) was running around dealing with no heat at his apartment, blown fuses in the warehouses, setting up for the movie, making sure every little fire that pops up every 5 minutes is put out. And then everywhere he goes, the kids cry out, “Sam!” and want his attention. Sam and his mom, Sarah, have done such a fantastic and beautiful job in 101 short days. They have a fantastic relationship with the army that runs the camp and the other NGOs on site.
We had gone out and bought three more heaters thinking they could be used to put into the baby beds until it heats up a bit. We had to bring all the goodies we’d bought for the new baby last night and Sam said there was also a 3-week-old baby that could use a heater, too. First we stopped at the new baby’s room. Found out that the baby was 6 lbs., he just looked sooooo small. Such a good mama and such a proud papa, Mom looked tired but happy.
The three girls are so adorable, full of smiles and wanting to practice their English. Dad made Sam and I Syrian coffee; wowsa, some very strong coffee. Thankfully Sam warned me about the last bit, which basically is straight coffee grounds.
In the hallway walking to the next family, we ran into a mom that we had given a box to in October! Baby looked great and sooooo big. The next baby was a girl, three weeks old. They had a heater, so they said to save it and give it to the next baby. It was a mom, dad, 2-year-old girl and the new baby girl. They were from Syria, near the Iraq border. “Very, very beautiful,” said the dad. They had some neighbors visiting who were from Iraq. The dad could speak very good English. Dad said his family had to leave Iraq. Then he held up his hands and pointed to all five fingers saying, “ISIS, Taliban……….” He looked at me and said that without being completely veiled I would be killed for not covering. Then he said that women have only slits for their eyes to look out, and if they have eye makeup on — he ran his finger across his neck.
The family with the new baby have a 2-year-old whose legs are not quite right — they shake when she stands, and she is very, very tiny. She climbed into Amanda’s lap and just snuggled there for the 30 minutes we were visiting. Everyone sits on the beds; they have the UNHCR gray blankets on the bed and floor. Like all rooms, very clean and organized. The 2-year-old has neurological damage. Mom spent so much time hiding from the bombs while pregnant in Syria that she was only able to eat bread and water. Sam said they will work to get her physical therapy, but there also seems to be some cognitive damage.
There are five volunteers here from the U.S., and they too were busy with the long to-do list. About 10 minutes after we arrived, the electricity went out to the whole warehouse/office building. No problem, the volunteers had brought lights with them!
We all headed over to the “movie room” and started setting up. Sam gave us general directions and we set to work. This is a fun distraction for the whole camp. At the end of the movie, the kids get treats. We had bought chocolate bars, there were bags of marbles, suckers, potato chips, and a juice box. We had 70 juice boxes and chocolate bars, and the last kid got the last juice boxes and bars!
Perfect count. During the movie, in addition to the 70 kids, there were maybe another 10 teens and maybe 15 parents. The movie was “Tarzan,” the cartoon, dubbed in Arabic. Both Amanda and I had a kid on each lap and another girl on the chair between us who wanted to hold both of our hands. So much love.
Onward to Serbia
Tomorrow we will start heading toward Serbia, but since customs is not open until 9 a.m. in Serbia, we will spend the night in Skopje, Macedonia. The drive is only 3.5 hours, but we will give ourselves plenty of time. Should be interesting.