UPDATE FROM ONE OF OUR GREECE CAMPS:
It’s been -10 degrees in Greece. -17 when the wind is strong…and boy is it strong.
It has snowed relentlessly for days.
The water pipes in the camp have frozen. There is no running water. No showers. No hand washing. No flushing toilets…which is particularly awful in a camp that has recently suffered from outbreaks of hepatitis A.
Morale in the camp is low. Residents don’t want to leave their beds. Where children normally skip and screech their way to school, they now huddle with their family inside their rooms.
In the mornings, whilst I normally go and collect the bleary-eyed children and hurry them along to class, I’m now met by blank stares and utter reluctance…and I don’t even contest with them.
The reality is that if it I lived in the camp, no way would I want to leave the haven of my blankets either.
These residents have fled war, terror and persecution, with hopes of a better life. I know the idea of that better life did not include living in a camp without access to the most basic of human needs.
The worst thing of all though, is that whilst the people of Elpida camp are suffering, they are at a significant advantage to so many other refugees living in Greece…
Refugees living in tents.
Refugees living in squats.
Refugees living in a battery chicken factory.
Refugees out on the streets.
Elpida camp provides people with a roof over their heads, electricity for tiny heaters, food, clothing, medical care…alongside many other amazing services such as education and recreation.
It’s due to be warmer tomorrow…0 degrees.
I never thought I’d look forward to being on the cusp of negative temperatures, as opposed to being plunged deep into them.
But this represents the hope we all have for a brighter, warmer day. Hope for the future.
Hope for this year.
Hope that things will get better.