Volunteering in a refugee camp. Vol. 2.

2015-12-02 08.12.20

After a short break, I came back to the refugee camp in Slavonski Brod for the second time. Some crucial changes were made since my last visit: the asylum seekers now didn‘t spend any time in the camp, after the registration they were lead straight to the buses and sent away. That means no time for resting and less opportunities to deliver clothes for them. What remained the same is uncertainty – many people didn‘t even know, where exactly are they as nobody informed them.     

A new tent between registration and the buses was built, where all the humanitarian organizations flocked inside in order to provide food, drinks, clothes or shoes before departure. We had a division of labour: somebody was giving clothes to refugees, somebody was staying in the storage and somebody was running all the time, if the white tent lacked some stuff from the storage. I was providing goods directly for the asylum seekers most of the times as we didn‘t have so many volunteers as the previous time.

Happy volunteers

Happy volunteers

– Are you Christian? – asks one guy. I would like to answer „No“, but I know that many people in Asia become a bit confused as they are not used to non-religious people. I noticed that while living in India – it doesn‘t matter what is your religion, what matters is that you believe in something.
– Yes, – I sigh about my answer.
– Oh, very good, my wife is Christian too.

There a lot of families with children and even small babies. I can‘t even imagine how hard it should be to take care after a newborn, when you are being pushed from one bus to another, without having any rest.

Some kid was wearing these wet sneakers.

Some kid was wearing these wet sneakers.

An Anglican priest from New Zealand, Ivica collected some donations from his parish. So one day we went to a shopping mall to buy some caps, gloves and shoes. I don‘t know how, but we managed to put more than 100 boxes of shoes in the car. After 5 years I drove a car with manual gear box, it was a bit frustrating in the beginning, but fun though.

Only during three out of six shifts I had in the camp this time, buses with refugees came. The border control is getting more strict and less people are coming to Europe. So during those empty shifts we used to sort clothes, pack toothpaste and toothbrushes if needed. Gema from Spain even gave me and other Lithuanian Laura some Spanish lessons. Hablo español!

A timetable with our shifts

A timetable with our shifts

Once we were driving with a taxi and driver told that all the refugees are terrorists. All this kind of „experts“ are fed with fear, broadcasted by media every day. Fear has always been one of the most profitable commodities. After attacks in Paris, many people became even more sceptical against refugees. It’s a perfect situation to spread fear, talk about the disintegration of asylum seekers and close the borders.

On the other side of all those prejudices and hate that is spreading around Europe, there are lives of people who are escaping from the war or harsh economical reality in their countries. And we are talking about Europe, a place that cannot be distinguished from two simple words – human rights. But many of us choose to live their lives with full plates, not giving a shit about other people. Not all the refugees will integrate, not all of them are good people, but it‘s the same with all the people in the world – you can‘t ignore millions because of some bad examples.

The thing I hate the most is that people are making judgements without even seeing one single refugee. I‘ve been in the camps and I‘ve spent a lot of time with our guests, they don‘t look dangerous for me. But for many people who are sitting in front of TV, they are terrorists, impersonal crowd that is coming to take their lives

It was hard to leave Slavonski Brod and prepare myself that soon I will be in Lithuania. If I wouldn‘t have had my flight, I would have definitely stayed longer. I left many amazing volunteers behind, I learnt a lot from them about myself and the world. Hvala za sve!