The endless waiting

Walking through cold, wet and muddy Moria. The paths are small between the tents and every now and then you’ll see a small campfire, surrounded by a few refugees. But still, most people prefer to sit inside. I can see a woman peeing next to her tent, because the lavatories are even worse. It is dehumanizing.

We enter a big white tent. A group of people from Pakistan are joint together on a small rug, and we are asked to join them. Proudly they offer us food and drinks. They all came by themselves, but now, they have each other. More and more men gather around us, and people are sharing a laugh, some food and drinks. For a while the refugees can forget about their sorrow. When we leave one of the men tells us: “You have been here for fifteen minutes, and we have been here for ten months.” I try to imagine how they must be feeling. Waking up each morning and going to bed each without having a purpose in life. Not knowing how long this will go on, or where you are supposed to go next.

A couple of days later, I sit in front of the medical booth to keep track of the people that want to visit a doctor. I’m talking to a translator until a boy arrives who’s resisting help. He’s drunk and both his arms are completely cut open. His whole shirt is covered in blood. It must be that bad. Eleven months in the camp and trying to harm yourself to forget about the physical and mental pain you’re experiencing.

A couple of days later I’m going on an all-girls trip with a fellow volunteer. Two cars are packed with women in fancy clothes and we are driving towards a cute little town by the sea. We are walking town the pier chatting and laughing. The women are busy taking pictures and posing by the waterside. They ask me if I would like to pose near the rocks too. A young woman (22) starts to tell me her story. She fled the country with her brother. Leaving behind her family and friends. They travelled together for five months, on foot, through mountains and snow. And now, they are waiting, full of anticipation, to proceed to a different destination. All of the sudden, someone turns on some Afghan music and everybody starts to dance. For just a second they can be themselves again and forget about the agonizing wait.

Text: Isabel Wagemakers
Photo: Ruben Versteegen