We left from Milan taking all the precautions and safety measures imposed by Covid pandemic, still when we arrived we got stuck in Istanbul because of snow! We had to wait until 4 o’clock in the morning before we could leave for our destination.
It was me (Arianna) and Paolo Messina, a photographer. We had 5 really intense days ahead of us and we couldn’t wait to hug “our” kids after 3 months.
When we arrived at the camp the weather was finally sunny after two weeks of rain. Still we could feel the cold.
We had to wait the whole day for the truck full of mattresses we bought for the ones in need. It was supposed to arrive in the morning, but it was delayed by the snow. While waiting, we bought and distributed milk to dozens of children, checked the water well and the five pipe fittings around the camp. The well is fully functioning and the inhabitants of the camp can refurnish patiently at the little fountains. Patiently because the water comes out slowly, but at least they have clean water and it’s a huge improvement.
We spent some time with the children in the camp and in the tents of the families. We also talked to the camp referents in order to better organise the activities and understand what was needed the most. The truck arrived when it was dark, but we manage to distribute all the mattresses anyway.
In the next days, we distributed food packs to the families and vouchers to the orphans. We support more than a hundred groups of orphans at the moment. We also distributed medicines, support for the most fragile families and materials for the Rainbow tents (school materials, backpacks and computers).
We spent a lot of time with the families we know best. Every evening we had dinner with some of them in their cold tents. The ones who have a stove burn nylon, that gives five minutes of heat together with a terrible and toxic smell. Still it’s all they have to face the cold winter nights or heat some water for washing. It’s not acceptable that in the year 2021 infants, kids and elderly people have to live in such poor conditions of misery and indigence, struggling to survive.
The Rainbow tents are also striving to survive. There are a lot of problems that require a continuous and significant effort. But we are happy of struggling to keep the tents going, because it is the only place where the children of the camp can experience a normal life. This is all they need and all they want.
We spent an entire day following children’s activities. Discovering their progresses was really touching and they were so proud to show us what they learnt!
Some of the older kids are evidently hardened by their conditions, but they suddenly become as sweet as puppies if you only show them approval and understanding. When children grow up, it’s hard for them to understand and accept they don’t have a future. That’s why the tents are so important to give them hope and throw a seed in that direction.
There are many children and we know by name a lot of them. I see them growing, share their stories and talents… and I would like to save them all. All their stories and sorrows have a place in my mind, but the will to be there and see them growing and blossoming is stronger than pain and difficulties.