A Frightning Reality
16th May 2016
Great sleep! Warm, no dawn chorus like,the radio has been set to a radio four nature programme at full volume! We all woke up refreshed and raring to face the day…except me, I’ve got a cold and a sore throat…. Mum says it’s my own fault for staying out in the hailstone with the fire the other night, I think it was worth it though!
There’s a beach which runs along the front of camp Alexandros and from it you can see an island, I think it’s Thassos, but it looks suspiciously like La Gomera which was the island opposite us in Tenerife back where we started! Sabina could have a lot of explaining to do!
The plan today was as follows; pharmacy for medicine for me, pet shop for dog food for Asena and hardware store for new gas for the camp stove. Laundry ( enormous bag, 2 weeks worth of stuff ) then beach.
Walking through the site to find the laundry room we passed some large white tents, mum looked inside and noticed the blue UNESCO logo at the doorway to the tents and wondered if these too could be refugees. The laundry room wasn’t there Maria bundled the bags into her kitchen and told mum to leave. Mum left!
We drove back into Kavala and Geoff bottomed out the bike rack a couple of times going up the ridiculously steep hills trying to find the necessary shops in the tiny, busy lanes. We found all the supplies we needed quite easily, then headed back to the camp and the beach. Mum and I were planning on getting up to date with this whole blog situation whilst we lay in the sun on the sand. It appeared that this wasn’t going to be the case today.
The dogs and the truck had caused quite a stir amongst our camp mates, indeed the dogs were quite a talking point, outside our shed was a bit like a zoo with people bringing their children to point and look at Asena and Vodka. We had learned that yes, the big white tents were indeed part of the support force in aiding Iraqis, over there beneath the trees, and Syrians over there in another part of the camp. To the Iraqi people and the Syrians, the dogs were fascinating!
We hit the beach, Brits abroad style! Ten minutes later so did the Iraqis, a mother accompanied by two little boys seemed intent on sampling the water, especially as we were doing it! They stripped to their vests and pants and were squealing with delight as the small med breakers bowled them over. Geoff was hurriedly sent back to retrieve an inflatable tyre which was making its merry way to Turkey with us, not anymore! Mum blew up the ring and the whole camp descended to take turns at playing with the inflatable. Mums and children laughing and having so much fun! The mums were trying to teach the children to swim, Geoff said Mum should help. She said without floats for the children to hold, it was difficult.
Three polystyrene fish boxes were littering the shoreline. Before you knew it Mum was neck deep in the Med supporting children’s hips as they surfed along on fish boxes, kicking their legs with all their might, squealing with delight as they swam for the first time in their lives. The children’s mothers took it in turn with a fish box and instruction and support off mum. She was demonstrating and the others would copy her. Some of her pupils picked it up fast, but it only illustrated to me what some of these people might have been through, without the first clue about how to stay afloat.so much was in the news over the years about the treacherous ocean crossings these people had made in inadequate craft, and the majority of these individuals had never even been in the water.
They loved the dogs, they loved to swim, they loved to chat, their interest in us was interesting. I wonder if they are told back in Syria that “The West” is their enemy but since they have arrived in this Country they have been given nothing but kindness, support, friendship and help. It upsets us that Western media and politicians paint a disturbing and negative picture of those that come from the East, and generalise massively, we listened to people talking today and realised that they are here now, with nothing. Whoever they are and wherever they have run from, whatever they did own is there. They survive here in Camp Alexandros on the support and donations of the town, the church and Maria, who owns the campsite.
There was a heart stopping moment in the Med today too. Geoff had swum out and suddenly hollered for Mum to go out to him. Mum had just sat down and didn’t want to go, but he was insistent and fearing he might be in trouble with cramp or something she swam out quickly….at least she started out quickly, one of the Iraqi guys headed out too……..Mum approached Geoff calling ” what, what?” and Geoff just pointed at something bobbing in the sea.
The Iraqi guy shouted too, then stopped swimming and looked at mum, it was a hand,bobbing slowly up and down in the Med. Mum said afterwards that she felt so sick, she turned to the Iraqi and suggested that he get the children off the beach, all the time approaching slowly. Geoff got there first though, after some prompting he reached out and picked up one of the swollen, white ” fingers ” ………………………….
The Iraqi guy had not understood Mum, when shed said to get the children off the beach, which was good, because Geoff plucked from the water an oil workers heavy duty rubber glove.
Mum and Geoff came out a little traumatised!
They kissed us as they left the beach, asking Mother if she would be there tomorrow. More swimming lessons I’m guessing!
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