Clowns from Fred Normal’s Utopia Quest brought vital moments of joy and levity through performances, music playing, dance and face painting.
With thousands of people arriving per day in the winter, securing a warm and comfortable night sleep was very challenging. The white UNHCR tent could house over two hundred people laying side by side while other families often packed into the small portable tents or buildings there were 900 people in a place that had a normal capacity of 300.
This was the view in the morning after my night shift of midnight to 9 or 10am. There were not enough tents for everyone so people slept outside on the ground in front of the white tents.
When people come off the boats they can arrive to the camp at night or during the day. Arrivals are happening 24 hours a day. The first stop is getting a ticket that says what day it is which indicates when they will be able to wait in line for official Greek papers. These papers attempt to verify who they are, where they are from and how long they can stay in Greece. Many come without passports. The goal for most people is to travel to other parts of Europe as soon as possible.
I met this group of Kurds from Syria who were waiting for the registration line to take their number. They had to wait a couple days so we were able to talk a while. They were living in these larger tents that house multiple families. They invited me to stay with them. They were worried about me and whether I had a place to sleep. Their kindness and generosity really touched me. They made their way to Germany and we are in constant contact.
I was invited to visit what we would call a nursing home in India. I met 10 of the 15 or so people living there. There were 2 women and the rest men and most were there because they had been abandoned. When I walked in 4 were in one room watching TV and four others in another room. Through translation they let me know they liked action movies.