A busy first week on Lesbos

lighthouse_refugee_relief_lesbos_lesvos

Today marks exactly one week since I arrived in Lesbos, and I have to say, it has been an incredibly busy week at that. I have so much to write about that I really don’t know where to begin.

The legal centre, where I’m working, is based within a larger project called the Mosaik Support Center. The Mosaik Support Center provides lessons and workshops to refugees and locals on the island. Last Friday it was also the location of the best talent show I’ve ever attended. The people who took part in the talent show were from all sorts of different countries and backgrounds. There was a young lad who rapped in Farsi. The rap was about a lesbian demanding the right to be herself and love who she wants to love. It was so fast that you could hardly make out the individual words. There was a lad reciting poetry he’d written. One of the poems was about his love for the volunteers, and another was about his frustration at the EU. Eventually the talent show descended into a dance party, with most of the refugees and volunteers getting up and dancing together. The chairs were pushed to the side, and we all had an amazing time. Even I got up to dance, which is no mean feat in itself.

Last weekend was a holiday weekend in Greece, so the centre was closed on Monday. We’d initially planned to go across to Turkey for the weekend, as it’s only a short ferry trip away. In the end we were taken on a trip to the north of Lesbos by Chloe and Julian. Chloe and Julian are two of the long-term volunteers living on the island. They’ve been here for over a year, and they don’t seem to have an off switch. They are on call 24 hours a day for the boats landing on the island, as well as organising the Mosaik Centre, and numerous other things. We started the weekend with a trip to the beach, and a dip in the sea. What was I thinking in not packing a swimsuit? After lunch at the taverna they took us on a rather bumpy trip to get to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is practically the image of the refugee crisis on Lesbos. Basically everyone has seen the picture of the lifejackets, inner tubes and boats littering the rocky beach next to the lighthouse. You can see Turkey from the beach, and it looks so close. The amount of boats coming over the water has drastically decreased, and the beach has been cleared up, but there are still a few lifejackets there. Hanging in the window of the abandoned lighthouse-keepers house is a tiny life jacket, which looks as though it was designed for a five-year-old. On the beach there are a few wrecked wooden boats. I didn’t quite know what to think on looking at it all. I guess a part of me is still processing it.

As for the legal centre, we’ve been busy. We’ve had a steady flow of people coming to see us, with quite a variety of issues. Some of the stories we hear are absolutely heartbreaking, but they are by no means unusual. I haven’t done any client interviews yet, as I’m still trying to get my head around all of the laws, and the processes and things. In the meantime, I’ve taken the (temporary) title of Communications Manager. I’ve set up a facebook page, and I’ll be making a few posts on our blog.

I do apologise for the abnormally long blog post. I’ll try to make them a bit more frequent so that they’ll be shorter.

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