Samos, 480 shampoos & some fresh weirdos

The hardest thing about leaving Lesvos for any period of time is knowing that when I go back, some of the people I know and care about will be gone. It’s already happened. I’ve not even been gone a week and already one of my favourite people on the island has left. Maybe I’ll see him again – but I have to accept that’s it’s likely I won’t. It’s a happy thing though- everyone’s goal is to leave that island.

I’ve found myself on Samos. I was here at the beginning of January on a holiday, and when I saw Refugee4Refugees were desperate for volunteers here, I knew I had to come. I was intrigued to do a different kind of work, to meet a different team and to learn a bit more about Vathy camp – Moria’s equally sinister little sister – but mostly I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to leave my lovely unit of pals – my loves. I didn’t want to leave my house. The night before I was supposed to get the ferry, I so almost decided not to come. But I came. I danced until 4am, went home to get my bags then was on the ferry at 6. (I don’t know where this side of me came from.)

So, I got to Samos and I discovered that NGOs are maybe always like families. Again, as with OHF, we have bonded over a shared interest and a shared desire to help, and that makes friendship really easy. We are also all a little bit weird. I’m staying in a house with (currently) 16 other people, though it has a capacity for 20, and I weirdly love it. From my single bed in a room I share with two girls, I can see orangey rooftops and the sea, and it’s not difficult to think of this as some kind of home.

The work I’m doing right now is mostly based in a warehouse so I haven’t been in contact with any refugees – a stark contrast with OHF where I’m surrounded by 1,000+ visitors every day. I miss the interaction but I’m happy because I know what I’m doing is really worthwhile, just behind-the-scenes. Yesterday we finished bagging 480 family bags – containing everything from shampoo to a cosy snood – which will make the lives of 480 families (650 kids) that little bit better.

We’re going into day 5 of a 6-day week and my body is a little tired but in the good way. Tomorrow we’ll be distributing all the things we’ve been putting together for people, and I’m excited to see the stuff get to who needs it most. That’s what it’s all about, after all.

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