(Written by Luca Bisighini, coordinator of MIGR and participant at the SU)
This article is the first one of a series of blog posts dedicated to the visit to the Kara Tepe camp for migrants in the island of Lesvos, Greece.
I had this visit while being a participant of the Summer University (SU) organized by AEGEE-Peiraias, called “Sailors of the AEGEEan Sea in the Service of Refugees“.
Manolo (AEGEE Madrid) proposed this “Reflection Time” after the visits at the Kara Tepe camp.
Manolo (AEGEE Madrid) called all of us to discuss in a collective moment all together, sitting in a circle, after the night party we had on the last night we have been in Kara Tepe.
Basically, (almost) everybody had a beer and every person could have received a “cheer” of approval or not after anybody’s speech.
VICKY (Organizer, AEGEE-Peiraias): “The moments we passed in Camp Moria, were not that good, but the moments we had in Kara Tepewere okay, since I found this little girl, which was awesome. I have a lot of crushes on kids”
JULIO (AEGEE-Alicante): “When I arrived, I was shocked to see the fences and generally terrified of what I saw in Camp Moria.
Then, what I saw instead in Kara Tepe was nicer and I loved that environment.
I found sad what I heard from the stories of the people I talked with. The kids need a proper childhood, education like it happens for all the children in Europe today”
Eva (organizer, AEGEE Peiraias), Marcos (AEGEE A Coruña), Skander (AEGEE Leiden) and Ilias (organizer, AEGEE Peiraias)
MARCOS (AEGEE-A Coruna): “The real tough life of the camps, unfortunately, is in Moria and not in Kara Tepe. It actually looks from outside as a prison.
The experience in Kara Tepe was nice, but despite I don’t want to be pessimistic, the real experience the most of refugees are living is the one almost 4000 people are experiencing in Camp Moria.
We don’t have to stop with this SU, with this initiative, because the people we met want their stories to be shared and to make them feel useful. If not, they will feel not okay, and they will start think about their troubled past”
SKANDER (AEGEE-Leiden): “I was really surprised after the documentaries and things I saw. It was pretty inspiring to see the camp, despite that they don’t know their futures, they all looked hopeful and the fact that I saw lots of united families, is hopeful too.
They need something else to overcome this period without real education or work”
JOSINE (AEGEE-Groningen): “I was a little bit worried at first about what we were supposed to do there and due to the fact of seeing us as strangers. The camp is okay, but their life is not okay, they don’t know about their real chances.
Being nice with them for those moments makes me want to go back to my country and start doing activities, but it also makes me feel bad about their situation”.
ILIAS (Organizer, AEGEE-Peiraias): What we experienced in the camp, the situation, was better than what I saw in the media, and that’s probably what made us empathized more. I spoke with local people here in Lesvos, and with respect to the 2015 Summer, they think the situation improved a lot.
Most of the refugees in here who come, had money, were part of the medium/high wealthy part of the population.
I hope this experience will help me change my attitude towards them and that I can start helping them and donate.
CARMINE (AEGEE-Salerno): Due to media in my country, I have a distorted image of what we saw in these 2 days. It is different with respect to the experience I personally had in the other camp I volunteered in.
ALIENOR (AEGEE-Brussels, CEWG, MIGR): We’ve just seen one camp and the one we saw was the “Disneyland” of those. I hope that what I saw will be just not so different from all of the others.
I was surprised however, to see kids bullying other kids, instead of sticking together and playing.
This thing stroked me a little, and maybe this whole bullying phenomenon was caused by cultural differences among kids.
But the party instead taught me that differences can be overcome, if you rely more on education”
Manolo then stopped the conversation and asked the participants what can they do as European Active Citizens towards them.
LUCA (AEGEE-Brescia, MIGR Coordinator): “I think that intervening, even just a little, can make lots of difference. No matter where, in the AEGEE network, by volunteering, keeping their side in discussion and public debates, demonstrate, volunteer, donate.
Especially try to think that in AEGEE not all of us are so supportive of migrants in general.
What we can do is huge by little step. Intervening and working for them, to ensure help in any form, is what we are supposed to do.
I hope as AEGEEans and active citizens, we can intervene somehow to improve their lives. I hope AEGEE instead, keeps lobbying for their human rights too”.
SANNE (AEGEE-Maastricht): The role in this situation made me realize that we can intervene not just buy donating and volunteering. We can make a difference among the 20-35 years old people, in how we participate in debates, in how we got involved in things like this.
There are not so much activities and I rather suggest you, even despite it could be hard, to do something.
All the people we met today allowed us to get a sneak peak of their lives, don’t forget it”
Evgenya (AEGEE Dnipro), Mara (Organizer, AEGEE Peiraias), Nadeshda (AEGEE Passau), Julio (AEGEE Alicante), Javier (AEGEE Zaragoza)
JULIO (AEGEE-Alicante): “Making people smile gave me lots of energy and strength, and we can do a lot, starting from raising awareness about their conditions”.
NADESHDA (AEGEE-Passau) [Adding to Sanne]: “We can act locally in our communities to help the refugees integrate and to give them a chance to integrate. They want to learn, they want to be part of our society.
This kind of attitude can be good for both refugees and for locals.
AEGEE can help as we can cooperate with them and with NGO’s working with them.
They don’t need to stay in a camp, they need to be approved”
ILIAS (Organizer, AEGEE-Peiraias): “Raising awareness, donating, participating at actions promoted by NGOs or UNHCR”
Josine (AEGEE Groningen), Aliénor (AEGEE Brussels/CEWG/MIGR), Balazs (AEGEE Budapest), Aïcha (AEGEE Utrecht), Cristina (AEGEE Castello) and Sanne (AEGEE Maastricht)
BALAZS (AEGEE-Budapest) [Adding to Aliénor]: “The circumstances for having seen those bullying scene might not be that much reliable. It depends on a series of things we don’t know that much”.
[Adding to Sanne]: “my expectations before entering in the camps were to see how the camp worked and the whole situation.
After having seen what I saw, I can tell you that I will contribute by telling everybody about my story and how I was feeling while staying in there”
STEFANIA (AEGEE-Budapest): “I just want to add that despite seeing – she counted – 16 NGO’s in the camp, the situation is not so professional and still there are lots of issues that are not handled”.