Everyone needs to make sense of his/her life. Good and bad things happen for a reason, that is the way our brain works, that is what our relatives, other people and society as a whole tell us. The sensation of losing control of the environment around us, to be twisted in the storming wind, thus casually becoming victims of one’s destiny is painful and scary. Does not matter what anyone did in the past, does not matter whether someone chose to fly away from one’s homeland voluntarily or not, not a soul in this camp was able to predict the odyssey one has been through. Quoting someone else: ‘If you think, if you judge it conventionally, you will condemn them to five thousand years of prison plus expenses. But if you understand, if you let your eyes rest on them for a moment, although not lilies they are still victims of this world.’
It seems like an easy message to send, particularly to those who have been raped and mutilated, tortured and enslaved. Shockingly, those who suffered the most are also the people who blame themselves the most. They feel ashamed of not having been strong enough to defend themselves. They feel guilty for not having been good enough to keep the promise they had made to their families. They feel foolish for not having doubted the evil person who betrayed them. Today, sat a man crumpled on the ground; he covered his head trying to dissociate himself from the reality he faced; flashbacks that never left him alone. He felt ashamed of something he was not able to tell us. Lost in the darkness of his mind. This silent cry resonated in the cabin… deafening.
Text: Emanuele Politi
Perhaps it’s the environment we are in wherein we are all working towards a common goal, you know that the conversations are real here in camp Moria. The interaction is special and most importantly when you share a laugh together, it’s real. People in camp Moria are regular people with unfortunate circumstances. Engaging in conversations reassure a sense of normalcy in an otherwise debilitating situation and a few people have managed to make an impact in my week here.
The first person I’d like to talk about is a little 10-year-old kid from Kabul, Afghanistan. The first time I met him was when I was trying to communicate to an adult in English with a lot of gesturing and then the kid said ‘It’s important to know English, it’s very useful’’. He then came in front of the community centre and showed off his ‘hula-hoop’….he was good! I tried, it fell to the ground in 2 seconds. We then chatted for at least 30 minutes. He apologised to sit and talk but he said he wanted to practice his English and again the topic of having a ‘normal conversation’ came up. He was very open about his life back in Kabul, to the extent that he was very matter-of-fact about being around Taliban and constantly hearing bombings. He also mentioned that his parents had passed away and that his older brother made the decision to move away. They apparently had a plan, which included learning English. This kid now speaks fluent English that he learnt in 1 year and also a little bit of German (sorry Deutch, as he corrected me). He said, his other 2 siblings were in Germany and that he couldn’t wait to get there and therefore wanted to read as many German books as possible.
He also said he wanted to be an artist when he grows up – painting and drawing and later he gave me something he created out of paper (see picture). I was literally at loss of words. This kid was so resilient, unbelievably smart and motivated and had this thirst for knowledge and the future. No one needs to normalize being around Taliban leave alone a kid. When I was 10 my biggest worry was probably that my school uniform was not ironed.
Extrinsic motivation is limited in Moria, but clearly there is something internally driving this child and I can’t be happier about that. It is this internal motivation we need to harness and nourish, whether it is in the form schooling or just having a regular conversation. The knowledge that things could be normal and that people will treat you with the same amount of dignity and respect is extremely important in a situation like this. I will always remember this kid and I hope to see him flourish 10-15 years from now and perhaps be a proud owner of his paintings.
Text: Sindhuja Sankaran
Photo: Bas Bakkenes
*The boy in the picture is not the boy from the blog
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