As of the beginning of the third term, I packed off to Serbia along with four of my classmates and three teachers, excited to experience refugee camps firsthand. I am sharing with you, my dear reader, part of my journal composed of situations that I and we together, have encountered.
23th of May
I am sitting on the bench with my classmate and an elderly man from Afghanistan. There are two boys talking to one another in front of us. The man from Afghanistan points at them and he tells us that when he was their age, he had never seen a gun. Now, he says “..there are boys their age shooting in the streets of my hometown so they can survive”.
24th of May
We are distributing hygiene packages between families and single guys. Family and single hygiene packages include the most necessary toiletry. There is, however, one difference. Families get one shampoo every week whereas single guys get a shampoo once in a time. After some minutes of distribution, Pakistani woman approaches us and with some basic English words, she explains that her little children are very sick and she needs more shampoos than just the one she was given. She shares an apartment with single guys and because they do not get shampoos often, they end up stealing those given to families. I look at my classmate and without any exchange of words, we both know that if we give her one extra shampoo, there will not be enough of them left for other families waiting.
We are standing in front of a huge tent, waiting for guys to pick up their hygiene packages. In order for one to receive it, he must give us a paper with a number he was given when he came to the camp. We put heart next to the number in the database so we know the package was already picked up. Guys come. They very well know they will not get anything without a paper but majority of them still does not bring it. We remind them the necessity. After a few reminders, they all suddenly have a paper in their pockets.
Quick chat with two guys, Afghani and Pakistani. “Why are you always giving us soap and tissues when we need shoes?”
25th of May
Frisbee game. A boy from Somalia joins. I throw the frisbee in his direction and as he tries to catch it by a jump to the side, he falls. I shout at him “I am sorry”. He stands up and shouts at me back “No problem, my friend”. I smile. Few seconds pass and all of a sudden, he throws himself to the grass “out of fun”, stands up and says one more time “No problem, my friend”. He repeats once again. I stare. Silently.
27th of May
It was a few days ago that I have noticed this guy from Niger. He often comes to the library. He is actually a god of the library when I open the lending notebook to see who reads the most. More he comes, more picky he becomes. I tried to recommend him a book. Although there is not a lot of them, I have to say almost all are worth reading. He finished majority of them though. During the day, he approached my classmate Sara. He handed her a small piece of paper. “I would love these authors to be in the library, I miss reading books from them”. He says and stops, to think. “I hope I will not be here till they arrive, if they even do”.
Helping in the laundry room. There is a guy trying to explain something with his poor English that is hard for me to understand. “Arabic, Pashto, Persian language?” I ask him, knowing someone around will help me with translation to English. The guy says he does not speak any of those. I am surprised. How come he does not? It turns out he is from Cuba. His happiness when I started to speak Spanish was tremendous, as well as mine. But who will help him when we leave? Who will teach those children English and German when we leave?
I am sitting outside of the camp on the blanket, three guys from Afghanistan and two classmates next to me. One is searching for Slovakia on google maps, the other one is showing us pictures from the jungle they spent weeks in. From Afghanistan to Iran. From Iran to Turkey. From Turkey to Greece. From Greece to Bulgaria and to Serbia. I look at the picture. The guy is holding a little baby in his arms. I shiver. He tells me that there is nothing in the world he wants more than his little brother to be safe yet he is so tired of running and so close from giving up.
29th of May
Frisbee game with girls. Boys come to join. Girls run away. Boys stay.
30th of May
Bunch of children are running around me, asking me to read and play with them. I get sufficient amount of sleep but this is becoming demanding, I tell to myself. I am exhausted. Emotionally. Physically.