At the camp Nesrin was working as a translator for Team Rubicon, a volunteer medical team and displaced families, going from refugee camps to hospitals, from hospitals back to the camps, organizing and serving as a liaison.
Our kids on the other hand, have been working with the youth, playing sports, painting, learning and teaching languages but most importantly, assimilating into a different culture.
After 10 days, I decided to catch up with them and flew to Thessaloniki, Greece
Teaming up with some volunteers and refugees, I got involved in construction, assembling walls, repairing cabinets and building some furniture.
A German, an Italian, a Spaniard, an American and an Ecuadorian volunteer, some Syrians, Kurds and Iraqi refugees were part of the crew, a crew that truly bonded!
Although we all came from different regions, cultures, religions and spoke different languages we managed to get along great, while making fun of each other, we all contributed with and idea, with some knowledge, with some talent; we all had something unique to offer.
All refugees, all my new friends, had a life before the war. They were successful in their own field; one was a businessman, the other a martial arts master, an expert welder, a farmer, an engineer among others, and now, they are trapped.
Unlike the residents, the volunteers choose to be here, they made the decision to travel to Greece to help for 2 weeks, for 1 month or 3 months. We as volunteers have the freedom to take that decision.
Yet, all these displaced humans have to continue living with the uncertainty of when and where their end date will come; they are stuck at the camp, they are in limbo, hoping that their status at one point will change; wishing that the war at home will finish soon or looking for a chance to begin again.
For us as a family and all the volunteers we have a specific time frame, a start date and an end date; the end date is here and now it is time to go back home.
Now, it was time to say our goodbyes; it was time to go back home and that is when sadness really hit us all
Our kids had built great relationships with other teenagers at the camp; they became attached to toddlers and involved with their families, Nesrin, built friendships with doctors, volunteers, mothers and their kids.
_At night, at dinner, after saying our goodbyes, we all were sorrowful, as if we had lost a friend, one that we may never be able to see again.
Daniela our oldest daughter, commented: “It felt like when we moved to another country, we were excited for our new adventures yet our friends were sad, they did not have anything to look forward to, they had just lost a friend”
At the camp before leaving I overheard Gabriel talking to a teen resident: “when I come back to visit the camp, you would not be here anymore, please add me to Facebook, so I can visit you at your home” trying to be optimistic with them.
Isabela, our youngest mentioned: “leaving those kids, really broke my heart, I would love to take them with me”
Nesrin: “today I really cried; these people need an advocate who fights for their voice to be heard”
For me, watching the immediate results of quick action with an impact was great. The team of residents, as they are called in Elpida Home, proved to me that determination and resilience is key; the must needed attitude in order to move forward!
Well, this journey has been an impactful lesson for our family and a wake up call for me as an individual. We were reminded of how selfish we live and how fragile we are. We complain, we get mad when things don’t work the way they should (in our minds), yet, we do not have a grip, we do not understand how easy everything can change overnight, how quickly we can loose everything that we “treasure”
This journey, has truly transformed our lives, and these tough goodbyes are just the beginning…