Nighttime conversations in camp Moria

The nightshifts in Moria consist of two people walking through the campgrounds. The pads are slippery and wet due to the bad weather circumstances the last couple of weeks. De snow starts to melt and the temperature is slightly higher than before, but still the conditions are harsh. We talk to people and listen to their stories. My first conversation of the night is with a man from Bangladesh. He explains to me that he is living with 85 other people in a big tent and that authorities refuse to let them travel to different destinations. The men are standing next to a toilet building on a steep hill. The pads are full of mud and the building is surrounded with an unpleasant smell.

A little while later I see a nineteen-year-old homosexual Moroccan boy. He starts to tell me that he is not safe in the camp because of his sexual orientation. For this reason, solely, the volunteers in the camp are trying to get him so a more secure location in the city. A small glistering of hope starts to appear in his eyes during the conversation. You can tell that the recognition and extra attention mean a lot to him.

I say goodbye to the Moroccan boy and walk towards a Syrian family nearby. A young married woman is standing outside, shaking. I give her a hug and try to warm her hands with mine. In front of the tent a couple of men are trying to bake eggs on a small campfire. The Syrian family is waiting anxiously if there might be an opportunity for them to be transferred to a different camp on Lesbos called Kara Tepe. In Kara Tepe a team of volunteers provide English classes on a daily basis and organize activities for the children. It remains bitter that there are no schools for children. Most of them haven’t been to school in months and that makes it so difficult to provide structure to the activities. The children have been through a lot and are in desperate need of some personal attention.

Hopefully the situation on Lesbos will change any time soon and that when I’ll return in the future the conversations with these people will have a different outcome. My time here on Lesbos has come to an end, and I’ll be traveling back to the Netherlands. It was the most unforgettable experience ever.

Text: Marry van Dijk
Photo: Bas Bakkenes