Rough seas = no refugees

Okay, a terrible rhyme, but absolutely true. Tabakika is just a dozen meters away from the Aegean Sea and you can see Turkey from the shore. Today, like yesterday, it was very windy and the waves were VERY choppy, so when this happens the boats do not cross the stretch between the two countries. The refugees are not making the traverse in secure boats, but often in glorified rafts and dinghies, so any kind of rough water prevents the boats from attempting. One did yesterday, however, and they were wet.

This means that today was a slow day in terms of getting people into dry clothes and warm. It also means when the weather improves we will most likely be in for a very long day. So, on a “slow” day it’s basically about prepping for the next wave. I can’t tell you how hard it is to manage containers full of clothes that are not organized (and half the contents are useless, but you have to through to see). I’m not sure how much can fit in a container, but it’s a lot. In the small “boutique,” there is not a lot of room, so we now have two prep containers, which have shelves in them where the clothes are divided by male/female and broken down more or less by age group. And, as I write, a night shift is still working through the container we started on earlier today. The idea is be the most organized possible so when people arrive shivering and in shock, you can get them into dry clothes as soon as possible.

Before I left tonight, I was talking with the logistics guy for Tabakika and he said that there are three containers that are sitting at the airport right now and need to be put into order. Gulp. The thing is you don’t want to stop doing it, because there is nothing more frustrating when a person arrives and you can’t find a correct match, but you know that somewhere in those containers there might be something. I think I’ve already folded more clothes than I have in my entire lifetime. Give it a few more days and it will be even more than when I have kids someday. It’s by no means glorious, and I could care less, as I don’t want to face down anyone telling them I don’t have pants that fit them.

I believe by tomorrow I will have an address where people can send items directly here. I will tell you exactly what is needed, because I’m now seeing every day what we run low on, what is consistently most in demand.

That was 2/3 of my day. The rest was spent helping one of the NGOs’ facilities guys with tasks around the compound. The most interesting was helping guide container offices hanging from a crane into their proper positions. Got to mix it up.

We heard today that the building that we are working in, the one in the picture from yesterday’s blog, has asbestos in the ceiling. What we were able to capture is that the staff of Frontex, the European Union’s border control agency, has pulled out of working the registration, because of the conditions. The Greek police apparently have taken over, but none of this has been communicated to volunteers. And, well, the refugees… It seems some of the NGOs are aware (but haven’t told anyone). This is really disturbing if it’s true, on many levels.

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  • Josh,
    So glad that you are there helping in the torrent of refugees and that you are at least one American without a gun. If I could be there, I would gladly help in clothes folding and distribution. Take good care of yourself and remember that too many self-less acts can lead to less of a self to complete the tasks if it is possible to complete them–Carl

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