Picknick outside the camp

Every week on Monday a pick-nick is organized for Afghan women, and on Wednesday for women from Syria and Iraq. We have two cars at our disposal, which allows us to take eight women. One of them is a refugee speaking the language of the women ánd speaking English fairly well. Every week other women get the opportunity to join. This Monday we picked a beautiful spot next to a Roman aqueduct. A beautiful, peaceful place, full with blooming flowers. There is enough privacy for the women to feel a little more free.

When we arrive at camp Kara Tepe to pick them up, they are already waiting outside. Some greet us a little shy, others greet us by hugging us. Some women have joined before on a trip and know us from this activity or from the Womens group. They all say their names, but too no avail. I really try to remember them but I simply can’t. The sound of their names is so unfamiliar for me that it takes little time for me to forget them again. In the car they are happy and they play us their own music. The atmosphere is that of a school trip: happy and a little cheerful. During the car trip they use their phones to take many photos from the view and of each other. They are excited. I am glad. I really hope they can feel cheerful for a little while.

At the aqueduct they wander around a little, make garlands of flowers for everyone and enjoy the surroundings. They take many pictures: selfies, photos of each other, the surroundings and also photos with us, the supervisors. We brought a camera with which we can take pictures of the women who want this. Not all women do. We don’t take photos from the women with our mobile phones. This is prohibited to protect the privacy of the women. With a separate camera the women trust that the pictures won’t be shared on social media. After a few days the women receive a print from a photo of themselves ánd from the area we visited. A memory of a nice moment during their stay on Lesbos.

We pick-nick together, during which they make sure we eat enough as well. After that we dance to the music they brought. As supervisors, we only facilitate this trip. The women together turn it into a beautiful afternoon. After two hours we go back home. ‘Home’ for them means a cabin in camp Kara Tepe. When we are almost there, they yell: ‘No, no, not to Kara Tepe, Kara Tepe is not good!” And I can’t do anything else but stop and with a sincere hug say goodbye to these women. And they respond: “Thank you, it was very nice!”

Text: Anne Wostmann