From this afternoon, most NGOs on Lesvos have ceased to function – at least for the time being. It’s no longer safe for anyone to operate. Volunteers have been flown off the island to Athens while riots continue in the centre of Mytilini.
I spent a lot of today crying and the rest of the time trying not to cry. Mytilene is home. The people there, the majority, are just beautiful – when I start to think that every local hates us, I think of my hairdresser’s, the giggling ladies there who make me feel so loved and nurtured each time I go … it’s the minority who are bad but that minority is loud and vicious. The refugees – all the thousands of people I have met, and the people I have become close with, are now left with nothing – no One Happy Family to escape to, no distributions, little to no medical care – surrounded by anger.
I hope they remember that we love them, that we care, that to us they are humans, equal, more than deserving of being here – I’m sorry not everyone feels that way, but we do, and we’ll keep fighting in whatever way we can.
If you can do one thing for me, let it be that you read a little more about the situation and talk to people about it. Remind people that these are humans just like me and you – they’re mums and dads, babies, they’re annoying teenagers and lovely people and total dickheads, they’re people who dream of being doctors or are already doctors, they’re artists and carpenters, they’re people who don’t know what they want except to just be safe, they’re beautiful men and women with the potential to break our hearts, people who love dancing and singing, they’re ordinary, they’re boring people and interesting people and annoying people and fantastic people. Do you get it? They’re people.
I feel guilty not being on Lesvos and scared to go back, but happy that I can at least help on Samos, where hundreds of people have arrived in the last week and more are expected to arrive since the Turkish border was opened.
But generally, I despair. I don’t really know how to live in a world like this.