So with a heavy heart I left a job 90 percent finished at One Happy Family day center, the two classrooms having taken our team of 2 iranians, an Afghan, an Algerian, a Jew and I with other volunteers only 1 week and one day to nearly finish. I’m sad at leaving so many lovley new friends, detained on an island against their will for months if not years at the whim of a government struggling to do the right thing under the pressure of the catastrophies and deluge of refugees arriving on Thier shores. I wonder if England would fair any better at being humane under such circumstances…
All of the people I met on Lesvos were beautiful courageous souls with very very few exceptions, and when offered the chance to follow a dream and crew on a rescue ship off Sicily I knew it would be an emotional farewell. The feelings of guilt at being able to book a ticket and leave is immense, and looking your friends in the face when telling them your plans and seeing the reaction as they try to hide the sadness while in typical middle Eastern stowicness congratulating and wishing me luck was so hard. You are all amazing, never give up on your struggles to freedom.
Refugees work along side Volunteers at the day centers on Lesvos, to beat the boredom of subsistence in the camps, often for just a meal, some clothes and a packet of cigarettes a day… And those with permission to work earn 20 euros a day harvesting olives and such like.
.It is with this in mind I was talking to an olive grove owner today, and we made a plan to start a skill share scheme. It’s sad it came the day I left, but with your help we can take the idea forward as soon as is possible. So Barbara needs all of the trees on her field trimmed to increase production, a yearly job the islands, and much of Greece over. As a tree surgeon of 20 years experience she was introduced to me by a mutual friend for advice. I went and looked at the trees which are hundreds of years old and in bad need of care and she detailed her idea of giving work to refugees when legally possible.
We thought how good it would be to do a series of skill share workshops where I could train people how to carry out the work professionally and safley, and they could then make a living in a natural and beautiful environment, providing for their selves and their families while increasing self esteem and confidence. Small schemes like these are so essential to combat depression and boredom which can and has been leading to self harming and even suicide in camps. If we can raise some funds for the transport back to Lesvos I will organise this as soon as I can get back Thier for a week or ten days, and also include invitations to young unemployed Greeks locals to maintain equality. The courses would be two or three days, and we could train lots of people at a time, so in even just 10 days lots of people could gain a professional skill and start looking for work as soon as they’re granted asylum.
Funds will buy a pruning saw and harness, and a few other basic essential tools and cover other running costs like insurance and food for all attending, and my accommodation. Thanks for reading our plan and please forward the link to our crowd funder (below) around your network.
Weaim to start in April of I can get away from the rescue boat I am leaving to work on. More posts from Sicily soon on that.