I was blown away by the interpreters’ dedication and enthusiasm. Over the next couple of weeks working in the camp, we would chat in between seeing patients, and they told me about life in the camps, what their lives had been like in their home countries, and what they were hoping for in the future. We had some really interesting discussions over dinner about different cultures. Waheed told me about how he was desperate to continue his studies; after completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering in Syria, his masters In Nuclear Engineering was interrupted by the war and he had to leave the country. Steve wanted to pick up his work of being a personal trainer when he was settled in a permanent residence. Ben was hoping to become a psychologist, to help people process difficult situations. Harry, who had left his parents and three brothers in Algeria after getting his degree in biomedical sciences, laughed and said he’d be happy to do anything if could move out of Moria.
When I asked Steve about what life had been in Moria over winter, he shook his head. “It seemed like there were no human rights here. In Europe, a child sleeping outside on a winter’s night would not be allowed. Here, women and children sleep in tents in the cold, with no hot water, and no one bats a eyelid.”
For the period of time I was working in Moria camps, I was so inspired by the interpreters’ attitude; living in a situation that anybody would find difficult to deal with, they stayed positive, worked really hard and focused on the goal of leaving Moria to go to Athens. I asked if there was anything they would want the people living in Europe to know. Steve said, “People close their eyes and don’t want to see. But they need to imagine themselves in this situation to know how hard it is. We’re all human… We’re all made from meat and bone, the only difference between us is borders.”
It was a great experience working with the interpreters in Moria; but I was left feeling angry on their behalf. They are all bright, intelligent young men with real drive and enthusiasm for the work they do, and they are stuck living in the refugee camp for months. Not only do I want them to leave the camps for their own sakes, but any country would be lucky to have people like them living and working there, as they are sure to make a positive impact on whatever society they end up living in.
Matt explained he didn’t want to talk about his background, as when he did he experienced flashbacks. But when I asked about he wanted to do in the future, he smiled and said, “I want to carry on doing this… Helping people to communicate. Hopefully I can be involved with work that helps to bring about world peace.”
Text: Jessica Agbamu
*Names changed for refugees’ privacy
Photo: Bas Bakkenes