So this week some friends and I travelled north to Subotica on the border where hundreds of people are camped in appalling conditions in derelict buildings trying to cross from the Balkans into Europe.
We arrived late a few nights ago, and walked some water and supplies into a train station encampment which is in-accessable by vehicle. The conditions are very rough, with open fires inside, and no electricity, obviously… we sat around a toxic fire indoors and talked with one group of men from Kashmir, who said they had been forced to leave their home due to ‘problems with Taliban ‘ I felt sick with the guilt of coming there in warm clothes and good shoes when I saw that most of them were wearing shoes a few sizes too small, an were forced to fold the back of the shoes over and stand on them with their heel hanging out the back… ‘the police in Hungary took our shoes and coats before beating us, stealing our money and drenching us in ice cold water and making us stand in the rain for hours before sending us back to Serbia. ‘
This is due to not enough shoes of the right sizes, if any at all being donated to this specific camp, as alot of the clothes and shoes given to the lager campaigns never reach these far flung camps and areas like this… this is not an isolated issue, and is the same all over Europe, the Balkans , and I’m sure the middle East right now… specific sizes needed are 42, and there abouts…to the point where my new friend Salim is actually known as ’42’ due to unsuccessfully repeating the number so many times in distribution lines across the country. It’s enough to bring a tear to the eye.
We got up the next day and visited the other camp, with the well with polluted water…’when we drink all of the 1 litter of bottled water we are given every 2 days, we drink from this ‘…i was told! It has twice as much salt content as the body can cope with, as well as other more dangerous contamination.
Photos courtesy of Samwize …ta blood!
We took some footage, and talked to a German crew providing phone charging to the whole camp of around 80 from 1 leisure battery (can’t work very well but it’s something), and then headed back to town to the fresh response warehouse to help pack food into bags for distribution.
This happens every other day, from a muddy lane, known as the secret spot where we can get away with providing the only aid these people get, without fear of prosecution from the police.. and all that is is a small bag of veg, a bag of fruit, and a litre of water for each person… but again, it’s something…
Any donations this week will go on shoes, and will also be put into food funds with the fresh response team’s cash, as it isn’t alot, and they need serious help.
I have travelled back to Belgrade today to buy a water filtration system…
and pick up Gundagir, my new four legged companion, who was very sick, and had to stay behind in the vets for a few days with parvo virus. He has fully recovered despite being only 3 months old, and we are heading back north on a night train. A huge thanks to ‘help na’ , a Spanish crew of firemen who come out in rotation to help at the barracks, for funding this project to get clean water to those who desperately need it as fast as possible without buying thousands of plastic bottles a week which end up as rubbish. Good on you guys!
Whist in Belgrade, I got to see the table we made while here being used for board games during an evening chai distribution , and got a really good feeling out of seeing the guys use it … it is for sale to fund an orphanage in Afghanistan … so please help by forwarding how u can. It is made from the Ekki wood I salvaged and milled from the Calais warehouse wood yard, together with rail sleepers from this camp. And has been made by myself , and some very hard working migrants from the Belgrade Barracks… sensible offers by comment please…
Please spread this blog around as much as possible as this area is not getting any media and is very underfunded.
1 love to you all, and please spare a thought for ways to stop this bloody war eh…