It’s been over a week since Greece entered its second official lockdown, intended to last until at least the end of the month. A moment we were all anticipating, the announcement of the lockdown was an instant reminder of the first one back in March. When the streets were eerily quiet. When our movement become more limited. When camp residents became confined to their immediate surroundings…
We acknowledge the intention of this new lockdown to help minimise the spread of COVID-19 – which remains a threat to both the host and hosted populations of Greece – but we are aware of the challenges it brings. Tighter restrictions for the entry and exit of camps. A temporary pause on external programs like sports and digital education. A greater need for better facilities and more stimulating activities inside the camps. A limitation on our capacity to bring new visiting volunteers to the islands to support our programs.
This new lockdown is a circumstance that falls beyond our control, be it for camp residents or our work. But it is one to which we can adapt by changing the experience itself, based on our previous learnings and experiences. To work more closely with the community to make these challenging circumstances more bearable, more liveable.
What we have increasingly seen since the start of this lockdown is an admirable resilience. From RIC Lesvos to Vathy camp, residents are working to uplift and support each other. We feel humbled to witness their determination and their patience in these trying times. Day after day, we are learning from them how to persevere and how to move forward.
As you walk through RIC Lesvos, you can’t ignore sights of despair, but contrasted against are pockets of hope. Men playing chess to keep their mind active and engaged. The new MOTG resident barber giving fresh new looks for eager customers. Community volunteers educating their fellow residents about the importance of a clean environment. Children perched a top of a hill taking part in our sports program. Women safeguarding women as they take a moment to wash. Our very own coordinator Noah, hosting the first RIC Lesvos English class for community volunteers.
In Kara Tepe, families continue to visit the shop, picking out suitable clothing for the upcoming winter. Tailors continue to sew to make clothing more suitable for their fellow residents. Children gather in the community yurt to watch and enjoy a movie. Boys and girls are challenged and tested in our SPACES program.
Over on Samos, you see the community volunteers of Vathy camp refilling the hand sanitiser stations and working to maintain a hygienic minimum for their community. Autonomously running waste management for their community. Residents are painting murals as a means to bring more colour and life to the outskirts of the camp.h
While it may bring hurdles and obstacles, this lockdown reiterates the importance of human connection and the power of human resilience. Maintaining communication, playing together, laughing, sharing stories and moments – in the safest way possible. Now, more than ever, these communities need hope, connectivity and inspiration, and we will be there to help make that at least a little bit possible. #ByThemWeStand. Today, tomorrow and as long as we are needed!
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