Kara Tepe – A cocktail of emotions

As you walk through the gates, you prepare yourself to be hit by a wave of sadness. You watch your more senior and seasoned team mates closely, observing their every reaction to this new and unfamiliar environment. As you enter further into the belly of the camp, you start noticing things you consider inhumane, unsafe, unfair, and unjust.

This story is based on the personal thoughts, feelings and experiences of the author.

You watch carefully as a three-year-old girl plays cheerfully with a rusty nail and walk hesitantly by the two-year-old boy who crawls obliviously along the edge of a toxic drain which separates the lorry occupied roadways from the dust fogged tents.

As the days and weeks go by, you continue seeing these things, worse things, more shocking things, but its just that, they become less shocking. You make sure to remind yourself of the abnormal. These things that first shocked you need to keep shocking you. You can’t normalise it, because if you do, nothing will change. But there’s a problem. It becomes difficult to be sad. 

It gets harder every day to be angry when your surrounded by so much happiness. Gratitude, love, play and humour lingers every square inch of the camp. You work day in day out, with and surrounded by, people from all around the world. Each who shares one thing in common – The need, not choice, but necessity, to flee. Every day you spend with these people you become even more confused by two things – how they are so kind and how we have them so wrong.

You are touched, moved, angered, and saddened by the stories you hear every day. The fact a boy who looks no older than 19 doesn’t know his own age depresses you. He’s been here for over two years alone. No family, no security, no approved application, no idea of his future. He comes from Syria, and with him he brings and offers so much. But we don’t see that. 

We won’t let him in. How can we be so cruel? Reality strikes when your new friend from Afghanistan, who has never actually stepped foot in Afghanistan tells you how it took her family 2 years, 15 attempts and a few causalities to cross a sea path of 1 hour to spend yet another year in No Mans Land. In Kara Tepe. She explains to me the feeling of utter fear. The ‘I was sure I was going to die’, when making that brave journey across the Aegean Sea. 

«I was sure I was going to die”

On her fifteenth attempt she boarded a black dingy, meant for no more than eight people, max, crammed in over 30 desperate bodies. She tells me of the moment she saw the shoreline of Lesbos, Greece. She thought, this was it, she was safe, and she would likely spend no more than two weeks on this island. One month passes and she’s stagnant. She’s safe according to the rest of the world. No, she won’t be brutally massacred by some terrorist group, but she will be hungry. Her mind will eat her away as every similar day passes and her freedom never changes. She’s still trapped, but this time not just by the spiralled barbed wire that caps the fenced parameter of the camp, but also by the ideologies of the West.

The camp is a cocktail of emotions. You’re bombarded by the friendliness of each culture that greets you the moment you step foot inside, but the facts, the actuality of the situation is never too far away. This keeps your rage for the reality at bay.

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