As usual we arrived at the campsite at 16:00. On our way to our medical booths we immediately got the feeling that something was terribly wrong. The field in front of our booth was filled with police agents. They were guarding the booth and sending people away. For the sole purpose of protecting the man who was carried outside on a gurney. He was passed out but convulsing heavily. It looked like he was having an epileptic seizure. The police tried to stop people from watching, but still many stayed and watched. After about fifteen minutes the man stopped convulsing so he could be carried to the ambulance.
At the end of the day the number of people being send to the hospital had increased to twenty. By the unusual large amount of emergencies that day the emergency staff used the medical booths to talk and listen to people and give them some reassurance. The emergencies that day included a heart attack, panic attacks, auto mutilation and a suicide attack.
The atmosphere in the camp was very tensed, so therefore we decided it would be best if we didn’t proceed with the child’s activities, because we didn’t want to put them in any danger. But in the evening the campsite was relativity calm so we decided that the movie planned for that night could continue.
Also, the refugees like to tell the volunteers about their day and their lives. At one point a man came up to me and started talking about the illness he is having. It is so severe that he was hospitalized that morning, because his liver was infected. But he only got a few medicine and was send home. That really hurt me because in The Netherlands if you are experiencing liver failure they can send you home too, but that really is a home. It’s nice, cozy and warm, and you are surrounded by your loved ones. This man was send ‘home’ to a cold and wet tent. Stories like this are common in the camps, in Greece and all over the world. Thousands of people live in horrific circumstances, and even though life is tough, the same people are willing to lend a helping hand to others in need.
Around 21:00 we start to clean up and get some food. But somewhere in the camp we can hear some yell; ’emergency!’. Our supervisor is trying to assess the situation and a couple of minutes later two blooded men pass by. There has been another fight. A third man joins them with blood on his hands. One of the head wounds is severe, so once again the ambulance is called. At 22:15 we leave the campsite, after a troubled day, but leaving all these people in the rain and in a hopeless situation hurts the most.
Text: Harma Oosting
Photo: Bas Bakkenes