Once again, I have fallen a bit behind in writing and posting updates about my time here on Lesbos. So much has happened in the last few weeks that have kept me busy – and exhausted – so I haven’t had much time to write. But I felt I needed to take the time to write now, to share some of my experiences.
For a little over two weeks now I have been working with refugee children, but specifically the unaccompanied minors. These were boys (between ten and seventeen) that were on their own in this perilous journey. They had come from everywhere: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and even Bangladesh and Somalia.
Between talking, doing arts and crafts, and getting my ass kicked at volleyball, one of my duties was breakfast and lunch distribution. The camp manager would bring in the food, and a list with all of the boy’s names so we could keep track of who was eating. The boys would line up (well maybe not in an actual line) and they would say, “Number 45”, “Number 29”, “Number 3”. And it broke my heart, as well as my fellow volunteers. We told the boys they were more than a number, they were a person and they had a name. Over the last few weeks I have done just that. I know nearly all of their faces, and the names that go with them. They no longer need to tell me their number when they come to get their lunch, because I know them now.
The faces of these boys will stay with me forever, as will the stories that some of them shared with me. But what will stay with me most of all are their smiles. Despite the horrors they went through, the boys still smile and laugh and joke with you. Yesterday we even sang and danced (the hokey-pokey in-fact) and every boy had a smile, ear-to-ear, as they twirled and shook their hands, feet, and head.
But one boy that will always be with me is the one who drew the picture I am using for the feature photo. He is a beautiful young boy with an incredible talent for the arts. His photo is beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. It has been such an amazing pleasure to be able to get to know him.
I know that I will never be able to undo the horror that these boys went through, but I can only hope that I was able to make the time we spent together a little brighter (even if it was in the smallest way possible). These boys deserve long and beautiful lives, and I hope they get them.
That’s all for now.
Molyvos, Lesbos, Greece (05.20.16)**
You can see more pictures from my European adventure here.
**Due to limited access to WiFi, some of my posts have been written a week or more before publication. For that reason, I will try to post the date they were written to give you an idea of when the events in the post took place.