A Drop in the Ocean has restarted our activities for unaccompanied minors in Moria refugee camp. Our coordinator, Magnus Svensson, describes an emotionally strong meeting with the children who have been missing activities for several weeks, and that there are even more children participating in our activities than before.
Text and photo: Magnus Svensson
Already on our way into the camp, we are greeted by smiling teenagers who lives in Section A for unaccompanied minors. They insist on helping us and offers to carry our big heavy boxes filled with board games, sports- and handcraft supplies.
We get the same reaction as we continue and enter Section B. A big group of children shines up and are eager to help us set up big tables and chairs for this evenings activity, taking place outside. A frisbee is flying in-between peoples heads, but manages in some way, not to hit anyone.
The biggest attraction of the night, is the sewing machine we have brought for the children to fix their clothes, change some pants and make them more stylish, because like all teenagers around the world, they want to look good. The good vibe spreads despite our corona precautions, the outdoor has plenty of space and we have never had a bigger amount of children joining our activities before.
These are exactly the moments we missed during lock down; to see the children with a big smile on their face, playing together, taking turns in using our portable speaker to play their favourite music from their different home-countries.
That is when I get a bit emotional, and have to take a step back to just see what a great relief our activities represent for these children. I love to see the children playing in groups and teach each other new games or even some new “magic” tricks. We brought in some juggling balls and some of the children learns pretty fast how to juggle, and then walks proudly around the section to show off their new skills and offers to teach their friends.
We are very aware of their constant struggles living in the camp, like self-harm, their mental health and getting into fights, just to name a few. To see a dozen older boys sit in an meditative state making bracelets or drawings for hours, to then proudly showing the result to and teach their friends, is extremely heartwarming and makes us proud of what we do.
Restarting our activities in the camp, with a very limited team has been both challenging and tiring. But every single time we go into the safe zone or sections, all the weariness and challenges disappear as we realise how a single, or two in this case, drops can have an impact, contribute with something meaningful and make things a little better.
But, as often happens in Moria, the situation can change fast. From one moment to another a group of outside teenagers disrupt the activities, they are looking for a fight. The expression on the children’s faces is the same as mine, tired of problems, but nobody challenges the new group and they soon loose interest. We finally manage to get them out, but you can tell that the atmosphere has changed and the reality of the camp is present again.
We eventually pack up and an even bigger group then before are now helping us to clean up and move the furniture inside, many of them are wondering; would we be back the next day?
Outside at the main entrance of the camp, the sewer system is overflowed, again, and the whole road in front of the gate is covered in black water. People are stuck on the one side of the road, to cross they have to walk through the water with feces. A family with an old lady in a wheelchair looks around for help.
I caught the eye of a man standing next to me. He exclaims: “So this is Europe”.