After my arrival on Lesbos I soon realized what the unmistakable added value of Arabic speakers is in the psychosocial team is. The refugees live under dire circumstances and cannot communicate with others because of language barriers.
The misery refugees are facing on a daily basis cannot be described in words. Since my arrival I’ve heard so many painful stories from the most wonderful people. The relieve on their faces was tremendous when they found out they could speak to me without having to worry about the language barrier. The children have suffered enough and one by one they could tell me their heartbreaking stories. One story after another, even more dramatic than the first one. Some children don’t speak English, but with me, they get the change to tell their stories in Arabic.
The psychosocial support team, with the help of volunteers, has achieved a great deal already. We teach children and adults, organize different activities for children and women and we also created women support groups to empower women. Even though I had a hard time seeing how the people life here and hearing their stories, I look back at a very meaningful experience. The suffering the refugees need to cope with on a daily basis is worse enough, the only thing I can offer them is to listen and provide support.
It’s an experience like no other and I will never forget it. It is great to see the gratitude and how much the refugees appreciate our help. I’ve gained a life altering experience and I have learned a lot from the psychosocial team and the refugees I work with now. Thank you!
Photo: Bas Bakkenes