This is Lele.
Although it may not look like it, she is a Brazilian volunteer from New York, pictured here dressed up as a Syrian woman.
Lele has been working with children and families in the camps in Greece for months now, but recently, as people were evicted from independently run camps like Eko, and forced to move into military-run camps, it has become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for Lele to continue to support the families she has grown to know and love.
This week a young girl approached Lele and asked her if she could help her 3-year-old brother, who had badly burnt his face with hot water inside the camp.
Lele asked her if she had gone to the doctor in the camp. The girl told her that they had, but they had just been given regular cream which was not helping his burns and they were not getting any better.
Lele made it her mission to help, and went to the pharmacy to get some proper antibacterial cream for the little boy.
When she got back to the camp, she approached the police booth to explain the situation. She told them she only needed to enter the camp to pass on the cream to the boy’s mum and explain how to use it. It would take her maximum 10 minutes.
As Lele is not registered to any large NGO, the police man refused her entry and began to get angry, telling her she was creating a problem and shutting the gate in her face.
Lele had no number for the mother of the little boy, and only really knew the little girl and her brother so was unable to call the family back out of the camp to meet her, leaving her with no choice but to leave.
The next day Lele went to visit some other friends who are living outside the official camp. She explained this episode to them and the ladies hatched a plan. They gave Lele some clothes and told her to try them on, insisting that she would get in with no trouble.
It worked, and Lele was able to treat the little boys face and leave him with the cream he needed.
However, the whole situation left Lele even more frustrated.
“As much as I try to understand the police’s point of view I just can’t.
Don’t the see the suffering that is under their nose?
Don’t they see that nothing has really been done by the government and big organisations?
Don’t they see that this camp is full of children that need education, health care and better conditions to spend their childhood, and the organisations that have the right to go in are not providing that?
Don’t they see that if I go inside the camp for 10 minutes, it’s not going to change anything in their lives, but it will change the condition of a 3 year old boy that is in pain and can’t even eat properly?”
This story is a testament to the length all of our independent, grassroots volunteers are going to, to do our best to fill the void of aid and support within this crazy refugee crisis we are currently in the midst of here in Europe.