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The Camp in Moria is the Hell on Earth. During our missions we have seen lots of camps but the atosphere in Moria is devastating. Nowere we have met the exasperation seen here. The families living there do not communicate, there is no mutual aid, and some people suffer because of mental disease. Maybe these people thought of Europe as the land of freedon butthey realized they were wrong, and now they think they haven’t the slightest prospect of future. They just realize that they are alive. In Moria it is almost impossible to . bring some help due to the many rules that an association must or should undergo. And, unfortunately, we are neither accustomed nor prepared to face them.

We left Italy with 2 vans loaded with clothes, blankets, jackets, shoes given by common and generous people.
The journey of Matteo, Marino and Jamal was long and tiring . They drove to Brindisi and then by ferries to Lesbos.They travelled at night and arrived early in the morning at the port of Metilene, on the island of Lesbos. Myself (Arianna) , Luca (my husband) and the Refugee4Refugees volunteers were waitng for us. The volunteers were there to give us support and logistics for the distribution of clothes.
Marino, the doctor, as always , will spend his time at the camp visiting all the people in need, mainly children, who show through their eyes tirederness and hopelessness.
With the logistic support of Refugee4Refugees we will ensure that the majority of families will receive the clothes they need. Families will go to the shop of the association, and get what they need, free, also after our departure, and this makes us very happy. Mothers go the the shop and get what they need for their families. Talking to people, in Moria, we face stories that leave deep signs in our heart. We met Parisa, an Afghani girl. She was asked by Holly (Holly and Andrea arrived a day after us) what was her name and she handed him 8 pages written in Persian containing her own story. There is also the story of a handsome k17 Syrian boy put by his parents on a rubber dinghy so that he could survive. The trauma of being left alone, the stress and deprivation he had to go through during the journey brought him to forget everything. He hardly remembers something either of the journey or of his past, mixes the days of the present and seems to suffer from dissociation. He listens to music and does nothing all day long. His eyes are the ones of a child: full of wonder.
We have met a young Syrian doctor who works in a small clinic outside the camp. Nearby it, some people are trying to do something that might give the idea of life: a school, a canteen, a makeshift gym .
There are other camps on the island, all inaccessible and fenced , to suggest that they do not need anything. But that is not true: when we hand out clothes, blankets etc. the people come near and crowd around in a bitter way to get something. The scene of misery and desperation is unforgettable.
.After 3 days some of us go back to Italy. Matteo and Jamal by vans and we must thank them because they are the ones who gave more in terms of time and difficulty.. Dr. Marino Andolina flew back, I (Arianna), Luca, Holly and Andrea stayed in Turkey for a couple of meetings with our local contacts. We are planning not only to distribute food and basic necessities, but to understand how and if, we can open a school in the camp we have been following since 2014. Then we move to Kilis to visit a family we support, and think about a stable project that involves the “citizen” refugees who have been living in garages and basements for years, without any help and without being able to work.
As we always do, we visit some families and, as always, our hearts are broken by the sight of children, sick people, elderly, disabled, orphans and widows who live in nonhuman and unacceptable condition
Our idea is to give birth to distance support, but also to set down a project that might allow the baking of bread to be handed out regularly. We might also think of setting up some job to foster single women to work. Our contact has submitted us some valid projects. We are ready to take them into consideration and set them up, if only we receive some donations, or would win some financial support from the government and/or foundations.

After 3 years I succeeded in crossing the border and returning to Syria; the situation is that of a humanitarian catastrophe : beyond any description!
There is nothing left: no houses, roads, lack of infrastructure. Syria is a vast sea of tents , refugees, surrounded by mud and debris. These people, mostly widows, elderly and children, receive almost no help and the children beg on the streets instead of going to school and play. They have been deprived of everything and it is unlikely for them to be able to go back to their homes. Their children will be the next generation of illiterate, angry and ready to be recruited by any sort of fanatics.

I came back home with a sense of anger and helplessness. I try to imagine what we would like and could do, but I know they are a lot, thousands and thousands and that our association SSCH can do just a little to help them. There are no funds, no energy, the international community does nothing to give birth to huge projects.

May these words be at least a spark for something important, I will go on telling what I observe when I go to meet the refugees and hope the world community will act.

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A lot has been said about the Moira refugee camp in Lesbo Island (Greece). There are photoreports, reportages and not to forget some bitter disputes.
Here, we would like to give a human scale significance to what we have seen and what we have been able to do
during our visit there.

We are a small non-profit association with little financial resouces but very determined and, as we usually do, decided to go there personally to get aware of the issue.

The camp is up a hill, split into two parts: one organized and fenced in with barbed wire, the other outside the enclosure. When it rains both are just mud and cold.
In the fenced area people receive one meal a day but have to cue from morning to evening to get it.
There is also a camp for unaccompained minors, but it is impossible to meet them and therefore they cannot be helped.

The second part is situated outside the fenced one and, even if not officially, it is split in two parts, too: in the low area of the camp there are some old, ill-equipped tents donated by some great associations. The camp is operated by two non-profit associations. It is difficult to understand how things work, it seems that the refugees receive about two hours electriciry in the evening and health services but no food. The place is unsafe and dangerous, quite often violence occurs.
The upper part appears as a heap of junk, rags put together somehow to get shelter.For food all the refugees, who are starving, have to join the cue made up of 11.000 poor people. The kids are ill-fed, they are not educated and to get medical assistance all of them need to go outside the camp.
Many ethnic groups try, with difficulty, to coexsist but everybody knows they are sitting on a powder keg.
A great coloured poster welcomes the visitors. It says in various languages ” Welcome” that strongly fights with the desolation and sorrow that our eyes see.
People wander aimlessly, cold, alone , wearing slippers , worn-out shoes that sink into the mud. Their stare is at the same time empty and sour due to the length of their captivity.
We get into the camp and try to hand out the food baskets that Nawal and her team left for us in a tent, but the police and a local association that deals with electricity but not with dstrbution of food supplies, turn us out.
We are compelled to hand out the parcels outside the camp. The refugees live their tents and happily come to get
them.
When we succeed in walking up the hill in the dark, into mud and puddles Doctor Andolina visits the ones who need, tent after tent and in difficult condition.
There are the four of us: Arianna, , Andrea the photoreporter, Gianluca and Andolina ,the doctor. We decide to split up and while Andrea and the doctor end the visits, Gianluca and myself carry on with the distribution but a problem arises when we realize that the parcels are not enough for all the people. We had counted on that and tried to give first to the ones who looked more in need, but when a father or a mother ask for help for their children, you realize that you do not possess the empathy and understanding you should have to face such terrible situations. You are aware of having done the best, but that is not enough . You need to set yourself a goal:
do more!
We carry on giving out food and medical treatments till late in the evening . We try to get in touch with people, mainly children and we succeed and read in their eyes the same determination that pushes us to come back here to do more. That will be our mission.

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LIFE AT THE CAMP

Yet another departure for another mission! I don’t number them any longer, but I don’t blur any of them and I don’t forget any emotion they aroused .
We left at dead of night to stay longer in the camp, already tired and worried, as usual. When you leave you bring some burden with you, the burden of what you leave and what you already know you will meet. You know that you have to work very fast, your activities will be frantic and exhausting. The unforeseen always occurs.

We are only three this time, no doctor neither the photo reporter. Ok. That is. From Italy we asked the people there to get the food baskets ready. The families are 400 and the orphans are 40. We had launched a fundraising that unfortunately did not cover the cost of the food supplies. I feel discouraged and worried . Even the thought that in a while I ‘ll meet again the children and people who have been waiting for us for years is able to make me feel better.

When we get to the camp, after overcoming some difficulties, obstacles and so on, we find ourselves facing a surreal atmosphere.
The camp seems to be empty. No children run to meet us, no mothers or weary women, no men to welcome us.
All of them are tired, they have no hope and they are getting used to the idea that they will be left with no coumtry and with no rights there, in those camps for many years to come.
For the first time I have no words.

But then they appear. Slowly, very slowly …. and they are a lot, a crowd. The children look for attention, they take by your hand and try to communicate with hugs and signs, as they usually do.

We give out the food baskets. It takes 3 hours to meet the three camps. Some of the people will need medical treatment but the doctor is not here ; they were used to come together into a tent and line up to be seen by a doctor and receive medecins , but not this time! They are disillusioned, I am saddened. I feel guilty.

The children want to play, but there is not enough time. We carry on saying “baed” that means “dopo”. They
take you by the hand, they just want you to look at them, to spend a little bit of your time with them.
Women at the beginning stay aside, then they come near me and ask me how I feel, how are my children.
Men show through their lifeless eyes how much they appreciate what we are doing for them.We hand out the baskets and feel like to distribute, together with food, kindness and love that worm their heart. We smile at them, nearly joke. We brought some milk and candies, but it is getting dark, they will be shared tomorrow.

We have some tea sitting on the ground and our mind already is planning on what we will be doing during our next mission: either to give support to a school or to build a football pitch. Yes, we brought some footballs and we saw pure joy in the children’ s eyes! We think that a part from the body, also the soul should be cared if you want to have better citizens.

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BEYOND THE BORDER  –   Travel diary – by Lidia Boncoraglio

MARCH 2018

The departure is always a moment full of emotions. The division of weight seems to be like an easy thing but   it consists of 120 kilos of food, clothing and games.

Then we must try to plan everything though we are aware that unexpected events are very frequent.

 

The situation changes quickly   often from day to day and therefore our memories are no longer current.

The question of memories is delicate for us. We leave them a sign and they leave us an unforgettable sign. We find this sign in our eyes!

For example we can see the sign in Luigi’s eyes while showing the dress bought for Samia, five years old.

We can see the sign in Arianna’s eyes when asking me: do you remember Fiore? and other children met during these five years. Andrea does not say a word but his photos describe his emotions.

Finally landed in Adana! In total we are 6: Arianna, Marino, Andrea, Matteo, Luigi and me Lidia.

A LIFE BASED ON UNEXPECTED EVENTS

Once outside the Airport we found out that,   instead of  two booked vans, was actually only one van. We then applied for another van.

After many laps we finally arrived at the shop where our interpreter was waiting for us. He is a very

generous man and never takes money from us because he says   ”you come from Italy to help my people and I cannot accept money from you”.

The dealers start to load the vans and Haj Ali car. He and his son Hussein live in the camp and they are now great friends of Arianna.

Andrea is helping to load packages and I noticed a boy sitting on a wooden bench. He is alone, dirty and he is   looking at us with an extreme sadness.

I approached him slowly because I did not want to frighten him.

Immediately he pulls out of his pocket a box cutter. I offered him two chocolate bars, sweets and games.

THESE CAMPS CALLED HOME

Just left, direction Karatas. Arianna and Luigi are commenting about the change of the landscape. Very well kept farm fields and perfect infrastructures. When labor is free, it is easy to get good results.

From the car we can see some of these slaves. Many are women but also children.

Arrived at the camp, everyone ran to us. They recognized us. I know because a group of girls around me began to count in English.

Arianna was practically assaulted, Luigi with a child in his arms, Andrea walking hand in hand with a blond child.

In this group   there is a young girl I met last year. She is no longer the little Turkish girl but she is almost taller than me.

The ground is always sandy and even muddy. The number of plastic curtains has increased from 174 in 2015 to 283 according to the number of families. There is not enough living space and the bathrooms are always holes in the ground surrounded by plastic curtains.

So we started distributing food baskets following a list. This is the most difficult moment because families suffer lack of food. Something went wrong because some families were not on the list.

I love being in the camp. Although hunger, thirst and lack of hygiene make it “the middle of nowhere”.

They have lost everything but nonetheless they struggle and resist.

The distribution is over, now is time for Marino ( pediatrician) to visit his young patients. He worked in Iraq in these months to save children, too.

Meanwhile we went around the large camp looking   for lonely children and people with medical needs.

REHYANLI

Rehyanli is a border town  surrounded by a wall. It strikes to see the great concrete snake that spilts  the hill: from one side  us, and on the other side the hell. It’s a small town, of run-down  houses,  some even seem to have been hit by explosions. The inhabitants are more Syrians than Turks, many of them beggars in the street.

Some of them  have been living here for years, since the war began, so they put on their activities: small restaurants, small shops,  tiny petrol stations , and some well-stocked shops. The sun hits and it is hot. We are terribly thirsty!  We have got some bottles of water but we would like to keep them for the kids we are going to meet, mainly for Sanaa, Ali’s wife who lives here with her 5 children.

Our daily programme is very busy. We will be meeting Sanaa, a menber of an association of  French doctors, and at last a child who suffers from a serious pathology at limph nodes.

A BROKEN FAMILY

Here the problems start. We had saved on the phone Sanaa’s house  position but we find ourselves  in front of a cemetery. Some children are playing among old graves, and that makes me  shiver without any apparent reason. We  call Alì in Italy to ask him  where exactly his wife  lives.  Then start going round Rehyanli far and wide for almost an hour, with no result. We call him back and he sends us a different position, which turns out to be wrong as well.
Ali tells us that one of his children would come to fetch us but there are two cemeteries. Andrea, Matteo, Marino and myself stay here, while Arianna and Luigi move to the other one.
The children start to look at us with  curiosity and get closer but when we try to talk with them they run away. We open the car, take  some almond bars for us, and offer some to the children. They approach, take them and go back to play, waving their hands.

I start eating my bar and I find it too sweet and disgusting. Soon I feel ashamed as I know that in a few days I will eat properly , while the people here have quite often nothing to eat.
Arianna and Luigi come back with a Syrian interpreter who is  a member of an association based in Istanbul. He tells us he is happy to help, and will act  as  interpreter if we need it. We are immensely grateful.

We need to meet Sanaa to talk to her about the situation caused by her husband . We know that  she and her children will never be able to come to Italy to rejoin the family due to her husband behaviour when in Italy .

The story in short is this: when ALi arrived in Italy to have his son Mohammed  treated in hospital, the plan was that they would be reunited with the family within two months. But Ali started to behave badly, violently, to drink, to threaten the nurses and anyone he met,  nearly reaching the point to lose the custody of Mohammed. He even asked for a prostitute.
I, personally, living in the same city, suffered a lot  because of  his behavior . We told him that if he hadn’t change attitude, we would have never let his wife and children  come to Italy, and he answered he didn’t care!

My pain towards him turned into anger. As for me, but I know, it’s a shared thought, I’d like to kick him out! He claims that everything is due to him, and he does not want to go back to Turkey. He isn’t worried about his 13 year old daughter who is obliged to work , instead of going to school, to support the family. That’s why I hate him and quarrel any time I meet him.

It was difficult to find Sanaa’s home. After almost two hours of wandering around, we discovered that she lives in a village 20 minutes from Rehyanli and decided to meet her tomorrow.

The village is very small , extremely poor, worse than Rehyanli. To say, the roads are not asphalted, some houses do not have either windows, nor the floor. I wander it it is worse to live here or in a camp.
Sanaa, instead, has a beautiful home but empty of furniture. There is only the kitchen, with gas that does not work,  since she cannnot  afford to pay for it. There is  a small gas cylinder to be turned on just when in strict necessity. They just have what they carried away from the tent: three mattresses and some clothes. Nothing else. The children are skinny; Ali Hmoud, the 2-year-old little boy, Samia, the princess of 5, Youssef of 8, Husseina of 10 and Majada of 13. Majada,  is no longer the little girl we had met a year ago. She has now become a woman.
She comes next to me and I hug her; she’s the big one, the one who takes care of the family, who brings home bread, the one who hides  into her pocket the knife, as a weapon of defence, when she goes out to go to work.  Samia ,  approaches holding the dress and the doll, the presents  Luigi brought to her, while Youssef and Ali Hmoud are exchanging their gifts: a little red lorry and a puppet. Husseina shows her gifts to her little friend from the village, and I realize that the girl is a bit disappointed, so  I  take a little purse out of my bag and give it to her. Majada is wearing her  new bracelet , which matches with her veil and the little brooch that holds it firmly.
We must talk to Sanaa about her husband, about the fact that he has been  reported to the police and that this inevitably  has compromised everything . We don’t want the children to hear the bad news, so I take them out together with the men except the doctor and Luigi.
Majada, though, stays there, and from the way her mother clasps her hand I understand that it is her place. She is only 13 but she is mature for her age. I have noticed that she can write,  so I thought that , when tomorrow we will take all of them out for shopping, we will buy exercise books, pens and books.

While Arianna was talking to Sanaa , outside the house we were having fun, we played soccer, captive ball, together with other boys who had joined us.
Inside things are not going well.  Sanaa is desperate, but  I know she is a strong woman . What I don’t understand is that she goes on saying that  she does what her husband wants. They: Ali,  the interpreter, Sanaa an Arianna are talking through  a video call. Mohammed  is improving a lot and is now waiting for the transplant of kidney. We explained the troubles to Ali but he seemed unable to understand, he went on laughing and eating. We told them that the solutions were two:  either Ali will leave the child here and go back to Turkey (Mohammed cannot be  moved, but, rightly, he does not want to be left alone in Italy)  or he meets the requirements for the reunification. The last solution is definitely too optimistic due to the reality of the facts. What we certainly know is what will happen if he still gives signs of violence:  he will lose his parental authority. The first solution is sad but realistic,  but Ali insists in saying that he will never go back to Turkey. We also must consider that Mohammed neither can return  to Turkey, if he wants  to live, nor he  wants to stay alone in Italy.

Sanaa is desperate, and she bursts into tears. Her despair is so deep that she says that it would rather be better, for all of them, that Mohammed returns and dies.
To save one, means to sacrify 5. The children here are slowly dying. It’s true, apart from Majada, the others go to school but the level of poverty they are subjected to is such, that they are slowly  killed from inside

Majada left  the house and is back with some tea. I try to comfort her and together with Andrea, Luigi, Matteo and other children living nearby we go on playing

Arianna and Marino are still inside with Sanaa. When they come out they are destroyed. Sanaa is crying clasping her little child in her arms.

 

We go back into the house. Mohammed is on the phone with his mum, he has  just come back from school.
We promised Sanaa to come back tomorrow, so when we say goodbye we know it’s not a goodbye. Despite this she goes on crying in Arianna’s arms.

We were ready to leave when  a boy who had been playing with us came holding  three large freshly made Arab breads. We thanked and hugged hoping  to see him again tomorrow.

 

While driving back,  we discuss Mohammed ‘s situation . Everyone has different ideas, apart from the fact that in case he would be separeted from his family, nobody would object.

To relieve tension, Luigi suggests to take Sanaa and the children out for lunch, tomorrow and then to buy some food. All agree. We receive some donations , plus some money offered by Luigi and we decided that Sanaa will never remain without food.

Light hearted we reached the UOSSM headquarters located exactly in front of the wall.They have their own office on the border of Rehyanli. Outside the building there is  the flag of the European Union and that is impressive.  Is is a local association  of doctors who work in clinics and  make medical tests, but non inside the refugee camps. For our purpose they are of no help and we were rather disappointed.

We leave the spot and start looking for the house where the sick child lives.  We have got the position but also this time it turns out to be wrong and we find ourselves lost in Rehyanli.

A NEW DAY, THE LAST

Well, it was not my imagination; the sound was of shots and bombs, Andrea heard them too. Moreover, this morning, while we were going to meet another association of doctors, we saw some tanks on the road.

This time we were lucky, the meeting with this association of doctors went very well,  there are real possibilities to collaborate, mainly for Marino, but also for us. For example, giving medical assistance and psychological support to Sanaa, her family and her neighbours .

We’ll see each other again next time.

 

We went to  Sanaa’s home and  took her and the children down town and we really had a beautiful day.

Majada was at work, unfortunately, and could not come with us. I have never seen children so happy to enter a supermarket. It was the first time for them.

our way back we met a demonstration of “Grey Wolves” very well equipped and holding different national flags.
At home, Majada was waiting for us. She was crying as  she hadn’t been able to come with us.  Cried even more when I gave her the presents, because she was overcome by emotion.
We left and when inside the car we looked into each other’s eyes , neither smiling, nor crying, with no word but perfectly aware of the emotions that were crossing our hearts.

We’ve been back for days now. On my bedside table , I have the bandana I had tied around Piccolo Rambo’s face,  the one he had given me back after receiving some games and it reminds me of all the children we left there.

The first days are the most difficult, because here everything  seems  absurd and superficial. We talk about the refugee camps with the people we know but only a few understand us. I feel breathless when I think that  at night we keep warm, we eat  at least three times a day. We miss all of them, it’s painful to be obliged  to leave them there. But it is this sorrow , I think, that allows us to go on with this kind of double life.

Then we took them out for lunch in a sort of restaurant in Rehyanli. We ordered Syrian food but,  there, we  realized that  they don’t have our idea of meals, when they are hungry they eat a piece of bread and that’s all. They were very happy and mainly the children appreciated the food. Sanaa took some pictures as a souvenir of the day out.

On the way back, I found a stationery shop. I wanted to leave a nice gift to Majada, and bought her a beautiful diary,  notebooks and books. My dream is that one day she will go back to school.  I know that studying there is not the same as studying in a proper school, but it helps psychologically. I hope she will be able to follow her dream to became a teacher.

our way back we met a demonstration of “Grey Wolves” very well equipped and holding different national flags.
At home, Majada was waiting for us. She was crying as  she hadn’t been able to come with us.  Cried even more when I gave her the presents, because she was overcome by emotion.
We left and when inside the car we looked into each other’s eyes , neither smiling, nor crying, with no word but perfectly aware of the emotions that were crossing our hearts.

We’ve been back for days now. On my bedside table next to my bed, I have the bandana I had tied around Piccolo Rambo’s face,  the one he had given me back after receiving some games and it reminds me of all the children we left there.

The first days are the most difficult, because here everything  seems  absurd and superficial. We talk about the refugee camps with the people we know but only a few understand us. I feel breathless when I think that we sleep
thought that at night we keep warm, we eat  at least three times a day. We miss all of them, it’s painful to be obliged  to leave them there.But it is this sorrow , I think, that allows us to go on with this kind of double life.

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I profughi che ho incontrato sono un inno alla vita. di Holly Boncoraglio

La partenza

Pegasus Airlines ringrazia. Ci siamo trovati tutti in aeroporto verso le 12. In questa missione saremo in 6, Arianna, Stefania, Marja, Andrea, io e Marino.

I bagagli sono tantissimi. Ognuno di noi aveva circa 5 borsoni a testa da 6/8 chili ciascuno, un preziosissimo lavoro fatto da Maruska, Mariateresa e Margherita. Il fatto di avere una tale quantità di bagagli è stata in realtà la nostra fortuna al banco check-in. Erano così tanti che hanno riservato un desk solo per noi. Gli altri passeggeri ci lanciavano occhiate a dir poco preoccupate, contenti di non essere loro quelli in fila dopo di noi. Una volta caricati tutti i borsoni ci siamo guardati soddisfatti; fino a che qualcuno ha chiesto se avevamo contato il numero dei bagagli e ci siamo resi conto di non averlo fatto. Fortunatamente Mariateresa e Margherita avevano attaccato su ogni collo dei biglietti con scritto il contenuto e il peso di ogni singolo borsone!

Il viaggio è andato bene, i voli erano entrambi in orario e abbiamo incontrato Marino e Marija in aeroporto ad Adana, nell’area ritiro bagagli. Avevamo 6 carrelli così stipati che ad ogni buca e ad ogni piccola discesa puntualmente cadeva qualcosa. Una vota fuori dall’aeroporto abbiamo preso i nostri furgoni. Si trattava di due furgoni neri da 7 posti ciascuno, belli ampli internamente e con i vetri scuri. Li abbiamo caricati e siamo partiti, diretti al  market, dove avremmo trovato i pacchi alimentari pronti da portare al campo.

Il market è in realtà un garage con accatastate una montagna di scatole che il nostro istinto riteneva fossero i nostri pacchi alimentari. Una volta scese io e Arianna ci siamo guardate un po’ preoccupate: erano scatoloni da 25 chili ciascuno contenenti pasta, riso, legumi, olio, burro e dolci per bambini…. come avremmo fatto a trasportarli? I nostri furgoni erano già per metà occupati dai borsoni con le giacche.

Per fortuna,  uno dei dipendenti del negozio che parlava un po’ inglese, si trovava li “per caso” con il suo camion bianco. Sempre per caso il furgone è abbastanza spazioso per i pacchi. Non avevamo scelta, perciò “per caso” o meno ci siamo trovati a dover accettare il suo aiuto.

Il piano originale era prendere il cibo, distribuirlo al primo campo, poi spostarci verso il secondo e distribuirlo lì. In un secondo tempo saremmo passati a prendere il furgone con le coperte, lo avremmo portato al secondo campo e distribuito insieme ai vestiti, poi saremmo tornati nel primo. Ma con il fatto che avevamo perso così tanto tempo, abbiamo dovuto cambiare piano. Prima passare a prendere il furgone con le coperte e guidarlo verso il primo campo, distribuire cibo e coperte. Poi andare al secondo campo, distribuire cibo e coperte in modo tale da lasciare liberi gli autisti, distribuire pail e giacche e poi ritornare al primo e completare la distribuzione.

Per fortuna l’autista che guidava il camion delle coperte conosceva la zona, la quale si trova in “the middle of nowhere”.

Il primo campo è abitato da curdi e siriani. In particolare ricordo una bambina con gli occhi verdi, siriana, e la bambina bionda. Quella con gli occhi verdi, mi si era letteralmente attaccata durante la missione che avevamo fatto nell’Ottobre del 2015. Ricordo che non mi lasciava mai. Nei mesi successivi chiesi ad Arianna di cercarla, ma purtroppo non la trovò più. Avevo con me un diario, che avrei regalato alla sorella maggiore della bambina Curda (il cui nome è Fiore, per noi); non perché io sia particolarmente affezionata a lei, ma perché ha la mia età; e come tutti i ragazzi della mia età penso abbia bisogno di qualcuno con cui confidarsi. Arianna mi aveva avvisato che probabilmente si era sposata, quindi nel diario ho messo una foto dove siamo ritratte insieme ad Arianna e a Fiore. Così, caso in cui non l’avessi trovata, avrei potuto donarlo alla sorella, con tantissimo affetto.

Questo campo è più vivibile rispetto al secondo; forze per la presenza del fiume, o perché è circondato da campi coltivati, o forse per la presenza della legna per ardere il fuoco. Certo non si può dire che se la passino bene, ma la povertà qui è diversa da quella desolante che si riscontra invece nel secondo campo.

Appena siamo arrivati Fiore, che teneva la mano della sua sorellina più piccola è corsa incontro a noi urlando “Arianna”. Ricordo come questa bambina mi era rimasta impressa poiché giocava sempre con i maschi, tra cui i suoi fratelli maggiori, e li comandava a bacchetta. Mentre sono immersa nei miei ricordi, lei viene verso di me chiamandomi “Abla” e mi abbraccia. Probabilmente anche lei si ricorda di me; forse perché durante il nostro primo incontro suo fratello mi aizzò contro una gallina.

Ci siamo spostati verso la parte sinistra del campo, dove c’era una piccola piazzetta. Lì ha avuto luogo la prima distribuzione. Questa volta avevamo chiesto la lista delle famiglie presenti, in modo tale da poter fare una distribuzione più equa e ordinata. Nonostante ciò non è stata una distribuzione facile. Non sono mancati qualche spintone né è mancato chi è rimasto senza cibo poiché non aveva lasciato il nome. Dopo la distribuzione io e Andrea ci siamo messi a gironzolare per il campo. Io volevo scattare qualche foto agli oggetti che facessero trasparire la condizione dell’essere rifugiato. Anche Andrea fotografava. Lui mi ricorda molto Sebastiao Salgado.

Stavamo camminando tranquillamente quando mi sono sentita chiamare da Arianna. Così sono tornata indietro e l’ho vista tenere in braccio un bambino. Questo piccolo non doveva avere più di 2 mesi, ma aveva due tubicini respiratori attaccati al naso, era molto pallido e magro, e muoveva a malapena gli occhi. Con voce preoccupata mi chiese di chiamare Marino. Lo ho trovato dopo qualche minuto mentre metteva una crema contro la leishmaniosi sull’orecchio di un bambino. Si è poi fatto condurre da Arianna che teneva tra le braccia il bimbo. Insieme siamo entrati nella tenda dei genitori, insieme all’interprete del negozio. In un attimo, da ironico Marino è diventato molto serio. Gli sono bastati pochi minuti per alzare lo sguardo e scuotere il capo in modo impercettibile. Nulla da fare. Il bambino morirà a breve.

Il suo problema è probabilmente dovuto ad anomalie durante il parto che gli hanno schiacciato la testa. Non vivrà a lungo. L’interprete si è poi girato verso i genitori, dicendogli che non servivano medicine e dovevano solo sperare in Dio, inshallah. Arianna lo ha corretto dicendogli che non c’era alcuna speranza; ma lui con gli occhi pieni di lacrime si è voltato verso di lei dicendo “lo so. Ma non posso, non posso proprio”. Uno alla volta siamo usciti in silenzio dalla tenda, lasciando soli i genitori che piangevano disperati. Avevano capito.

Fuori mi aspettava Fiore. L’ho presa da parte e le ho mostrato la foto della sorella e della bambina dagli occhi verdi. Ho scoperto così che la sorella si è sposata (ma non ho ben capito dove sia andata), mentre la mia piccolina è stata riportata in Siria.

Poi uno dei ragazzi ci ha chiesto se volessimo un po’ di chai. Noi, che avevamo fame e sete abbiamo detto di sì. Mentre loro si affrettavano a cercare 6 sedie che contassero tutte e 4 le gambe, io ho preso Fiore da parte, su suggerimento di Arianna, e l’ho portata dietro una tenda, dove nessuno ci poteva vedere. Dallo zaino ho tirato fuori il diario e un astuccio e glieli ho consegnati. Lei ha sgranato gli occhi e ha aperto la bocca. Io ho fatto segno di fare silenzio. Avevo un regalo per un bambino. Così se lo è nascosta nella maglietta e si è voltata per tornare a “casa” a nasconderlo (almeno questo è ciò che le ho segnato di fare; dico segnato perché non parlo mezza parola di curdo). Ma dopo qualche secondo si è fermata, si è girata e mi è corsa incontro. Si è bloccata e poi mi è letteralmente saltata al collo. Per poco non rotolavamo nel fiume entrambe. Ancora non so descrivere la felicità che provai in quell’abbraccio. Mi diede un bacio e corse via, verso la sua tenda.

Io sono tornata indietro mentre Arianna e Marja stavano comunicando con alcuni bambini. Quando dico comunicare non pensate alla comunicazione linguista, ma a quella corporea fatta di piccoli gesti volti a veicolare un messaggio. Marja in questo è davvero fantastica.

Io mi sono messa a passeggiare e ho trovato Andrea sorridente che accarezzava il volto di un bambino. Mi sono avvicinata e mi sono resa conto che stava parlando con un bambino speciale. Era un bambino paralizzato e affetto da un handicap mentale. Non parlava ma emetteva qualche vocale ogni tanto e batteva i polsi. Era su una sedia a rotelle, di quelle moderne. Eppure aveva un particolare che lo rendeva speciale, e che soprattutto aiutava noi: sorrideva moltissimo.

Questo bambino era un autentico inno alla vita. Così com’era si guardava in giro e sorrideva. Se provavi ad accarezzarlo sulla guancia chiudeva gli occhi e provava a dire qualcosa. In quel momento ho pensato a quale effetto avrebbe fatto su di lui un po’ di musicoterapia. Mentre io e Andrea lo ringraziavamo per la gioia che ci stava donando in quel momento, ci hanno chiamato per il the. Ma ci dispiaceva troppo lasciarlo lì da solo.

In più tremava un po’ per il freddo. Andrea corse verso Stefania che aveva in mano una delle sciarpe da donare ai bambini del campo. La portò al piccolo e gliela mise addosso e il bambino emise un verso di gioia sorridendo come un pazzo e battendo le mani. Per non lasciarlo lì, io presi la carrozzina e con l’aiuto di Andrea lo portai là dove avevano messo sei sedie. Mentre ci avvicinavamo Le persone venivano verso di noi. Marja, Stefania e Arianna si sono chinate verso questo bambino mentre io lo trasportavo. Per fortuna avevo l’aiuto di Andrea, in qualche punto, per colpa delle buche e dei sassi ho davvero rischiato di farlo cadere.

Avrei voluto portarlo via con me!

Dopo il the siamo ripartiti nuovamente per il secondo campo, con la promessa fatta a Fiore e agli altri bambini di cui non conosco il nome e che saremmo tornati con il resto della roba.

Son rimasta molto colpita dalla pazienza che hanno dimostrato sia i ragazzi del negozio, sia quelli delle coperte. In quel campo siamo stati più di un’ora, e sicuramente nell’altro campo avremmo impiegato un’ora nel distribuire le cose. E loro sono rimasti con noi, aiutandoci.

Dopo una ventina di minuti siamo arrivati nel  secondo campo, dove vive la famiglia di Alì. Questo campo è davvero desolante. La strada per arrivarci è pittoresca.

Ma una volta finita la strada sembra di entrare in una grande discarica, dove non c’è vegetazione, non c’è acqua e nemmeno erba. Il terreno è sabbioso e sporco. C’è una fontana da cui esce acqua sporca e maleodorante. E’ pieno di pattumiera di ogni genere che gli abitanti bruciano al posto della legna per cucinare e per avere un po’ di acqua calda per lavarsi. Molte tende sono fatte di plastica, completamente fatiscenti. Quasi tutti i bambini sono scalzi, nonostante sia il 29 di Gennaio e faccia davvero un freddo pungente.

 

In questo campo ci sono 3 diverse nazionalità, turchi, curdi e siriani. Io non riesco a distinguerli, mentre Arianna, Marino e Andrea che sono un po’ più esperti di me riescono.

Qui la distribuzione è stata diversa. Abbiamo messo in un’unica tenda pacchi alimentari e coperte, così da lasciare liberi gli autisti che sono ripartiti dopo averci aiutati a scaricare.

Dopo avere accatastato la roba, il capo-campo ha chiamato le famiglie che erano segnate anche qui su una lista, mentre io e Stefania cercavamo di tenere buoni i bambini. E’ triste vedere bambini che si azzuffano per entrare in tenda e prende un po’ di cibo; ad un certo punto mi sono infuriata con uno che brandiva un bastone e colpiva i bambini. Non potevo insultarlo, non fosse che non conoscessi la lingua, ma gli ho urlato in italiano di finirla. Quest’uomo mi ha guardata  malissimo e mi ha anche risposto in modo acido. Probabilmente non è abituato a vedere una donna, per di più giovane, che prende posizione contro di lui, ma a me non interessa: se ci sono io non ti devi azzardare a toccare un bambino. Così mi sono girata a cercare Arianna per chiederle se potevamo mandarlo via. Ma non sono riuscita a trovarla. Così ho chiesto un po’ in giro dove fosse, finché Marja non mi ha detto che era stata portata in una parte del campo da alcune persone. Insieme abbiamo concordato che se non fosse tornata presto saremmo andate a cercarla.

In realtà non c’era nulla di cui preoccuparsi, perché è tornata poco dopo verso la fine delladistribuzione. Ci ha spiegato di essere stata in una parte di campo molto povera, dove gli aiuti non arrivano. Lì vi sono diversi orfani, tra cui ha riconosciuto una bambina che avevamo visto a ottobre 2015 e che ci avevano detto essere morta. Mi ricordo bene questa bambina, era strabica e completamente denutrita, oltre che orfana. Avevamo lasciato ad una donna, la quale aveva un altro figlio, del latte in polvere chiedendole di darlo alla piccolina. Mi ero sentita quasi in colpa, perché sapevo di averla costretta a scegliere tra suo figlio e l’altra bambina. Infatti qualche giorno dopo ci avevano detto che era morta. Io ero così contenta quando Arianna ci ha raccontato che non solo era in vita, ma aveva persino un paio di occhiali, che ho preso in braccio una bambina di 7 anni che mi si era attaccata fin dal nostro arrivo. Me la sono tenuta stretta stretta, felice che ogni tanto qualche miracolo accade davvero. E in cuor mio ho ringraziato quella donna per la sua generosità.

Dopo la distribuzione abbiamo allestito 3 tende e ci siamo divisi i compiti. In una tenda, Stefania e Marja avrebbero fatto il loro lavoro di elaborazione del trauma attraverso il disegno. La seconda tenda invece sarebbe stata il luogo dove Marino poteva visitare e curare i bambini con l’aiuto di Arianna. La terza tenda invece l’avremmo gestita io e Andrea per la distribuzione delle giacche.

 

 

Il laboratorio di disegno per l’elaborazione del trauma è stato veramente intenso ed doloroso, ma sicuramente molto importante. Stefania ha chiesto ai bambini di disegnare un luogo sicuro. Quasi nessuno ci è riuscito. Sui disegni solo bombe, gente stesa a terra, case incendiate e carri armati.

Marino ha diagnosticato 3 cardiopatie, un ragazzo a cui mancava un osso del braccio (e faceva davvero impressione vedere questo braccio piegato in modo totalmente innaturale), qualche leishmaniosi e malattie intestinali dovute all’acqua totalmente sporca. Il nostro interprete veniva chiamato incessantemente da una parte all’altra, e ha fatto davvero un ottimo lavoro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Io e Andrea ce la siamo cavata bene anche senza interprete. E’ venuto con noi all’inizio per spiegare ad alcuni ragazzi che ci aiutavano a distribuire di mettere tutti i borsoni in una tenda, fare entrare 3 bambini alla volta, consegnare loro vestiario e poi farli uscire. Io ero dentro la tenda che aiutavo a distribuire, mentre Andrea stava fuori passandomi i borsoni e tenendo d’occhio la situazione. Fuori dalla tenda c’era una calca di  persone che spingevano incessantemente. Mi ricordo molto bene che a ottobre 2015 quando dovevo distribuire i giochi mi avevano letteralmente assalito e avevano distrutto una parte della tenda. Questi bambini non hanno davvero nulla, e la loro foga è più che comprensibile.

Nel complesso la distribuzione è andata bene. Quasi tutti hanno avuto qualcosa. Mi è rimasto in mente un papà che teneva sempre in braccio la sua bambina che aveva un’infezione a un piede e non riusciva a camminare. Nonostante fosse un uomo non ha approfittato né della sua statura né della sua forza. Si è messo ad attendere in silenzio fuori dalla tenda, facendosi superare dagli altri bambini. Quando me ne sono accorta ho pensato che fosse doveroso portare qualcosa a quella bambina, così ho preso una piccola giacca e gliel’ho portata fuori. L’uomo mi ha fatto un inchino e mi sono resa conto che era molto magro. Non avevo cibo da offrirgli, allora gli dato una lattina di iced coffee che mi aveva regalato il proprietario del negozio di Adana.

 

 

 

Nel frattempo mi ha raggiunta Arianna la quale ci ha aiutato a distribuire qualche giacca e ha liberato Andrea che ha potuto continuare a fotografare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Una volta finito con le distribuzioni, siamo stateraggiunte da Stefania e Marja.

Marja, artista distrada, ha iniziato a fare divertire i bambini. Era uno spettacolo bellissimo. I piccoli ridevano, urlavano e ballavano, la seguivano e la imitavano guardandosi a vicenda con occhi allegri e pieni di vita. Anche gli adulti e alcuni ragazzi che pressappoco avevano la mia età si sono radunati li vicino, incuriositi dalle risa e dalle urla che si sentivano in tutto il campo.

Mentre aspettavamo Marino, l’aria diventava sempre più fredda man mano che il sole tramontava. Così ho provato a imparare i nomi di quei bambini che avevano passato il pomeriggio a seguirmi. I. Ho detto loro che io parlavo italiano e inglese, così qualcuno di loro ha incominciato a contare “one, two, three..” fino al 7. Dopo il 7 c’era il vuoto assoluto. Così ci siamo seduti per terra e abbiamo incominciato a ripetere i numeri, fino al 10. Ad un certo punto una bambina bionda mi ha guardato e mi ha detto “Abla, love”; ci siamo stretti tutti in un abbraccio strettissimo, uno di quegli abbracci di gruppo fatti non per facciata, ma per dimostrarci che ci volevamo davvero bene. Poi ci siamo riseduti a terra e abbiamo detto il nostro paese di provenienza. In questo gruppo di bambini c’erano turchi, siriani e curdi. Era bello vederli tutti assieme, giocare e ridere.

Quando Marino ci ha raggiunti era quasi buio, e noi dovevamo ancora distribuire giubbini nel primo campo. Poco prima di salire in macchina abbiamo salutato la famiglia di Alì. La ragazza più grande, Majada, si è messa a piangere mentre salutava Arianna. Invece la più piccola si teneva stretta a Marino, e sorrideva.  Prima di partire ci siamo girati tutti, noi e loro, verso le tende. Sopra le tende il sole stava calando del tutto, lasciando nel cielo sfumature che scaldavano il cuore.

Una volta sola in vita mia ho vissuto un addio tanto doloroso.

Sono salita in macchina con Arianna, Marja e l’interprete. Lui è un siriano laureato in archeologia che vive e insegna di Turchia da molto tempo. Nell’altra auto invece c’erano Marino, Andrea, Stefania e una famiglia con un bambino disabile al quale abbiamo acquistato una carrozzina. Mentre il furgone andava io ero in piedi sul retro cercando di svuotare più borsoni possibile e infilare i vestiti in un unico sacco. Essendo buio avevamo poco tempo, e avremmo semplicemente lasciato tutta la roba in una tenda e ognuno di loro sarebbe entrato a prendere ciò di cui aveva bisogno.

Una volta tornati nel primo campo abbiamo preso i sacchi che avevo riempito e li abbiamo trasportati in tenda. Fiore appena ci ha visti arrivare c’è corsa in contro. Ha aiutato me e Arianna a trasportare un sacco (che era più alto di me), e poi ci ha stretto la mano. Il cielo era bellissimo, una pioggia di stelle brillanti sopra le nostre teste. Faceva davvero freddissimo, e nonostante ciò la maggior parte di loro era scalza.

Il momento di risalire in macchina è stato per me il peggiore. Perché tornare in Italia dove i momenti più eccitanti erano le litigate in Consiglio di Dipartimento o l’organizzazione di eventi culturali? In quel momento non riuscivo proprio a trovare un motivo valido che mi permettesse di dire “che bello tornare a casa”. Sento già la mancanza delle corse e degli imprevisti, tanto quanto dell’abbraccio di Fiore. Prima di salire in macchina mi ha raggiunta, abbracciata strettissima e dato un bacio.

Vorrei concludere con una breve riflessione sulla fame e sul freddo.

Peter Hoeg, nel suo libro autobiografico “I quasi adatti”, racconta che quando immaginava come fosse avere una famiglia pensava ad una casa calda ed una tavola con tanto mangiare. E’ curioso come parlando con i profughi, la prima cosa che ricordano non è cosa facevano prima della guerra o come si vestivano, ma cosa mangiavano e come. Una persona per esempio mi ha raccontato che c’era sempre lo yogurt.

Per quanto riguarda invece il freddo non so davvero come facciano a sopportarlo. Io odio profondamente e detesto il freddo. Quando c’è nebbia o la pioggerellina stupida mi viene addirittura da piangere. E non sopporto la neve. Nei campi poche settimane fa c’è stata neve e pioggia; hanno distrutto le tende e allagato il campo. Io credo che queste persone abbiano una forza interiore incredibile. Davvero li ammiro per come affrontano la loro situazione, per come continuano a costruirsi una vita senza aspettare che essa passi sopra di loro  passivamente. I profughi che ho incontrato sono un inno alla vita.

 

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“ARE THEY OURS? ”
“ARE THEY MATTRESSES?”
“BUT CAN WE KEEP THEM?”
“AND CAN WE CHOOSE THE COLOUR?”
“I, I, I WANT TO CARRY IT AND I WANT TO SHOW IT TO MY MUM!”
“CAN I TAKE THE ONE WITH FLOWERS, THAT PINK ONE? AND MY SISTER THAT GREEN ONE, NO BLUE, NO SHE WANTS THE LIGHT BLUE ONE! ”
These are the first sentences in Arabic that we heard said to us 2 days ago, when the mattresses were delivered.
And with the eyes our children have on Christmas morning, on their birthday, when they get a new bike, the latest model of the Xbox, Elsa’s costume or a new tennis racquet, they say hello, they thank you, they tell you that those mattresses are just beautiful !!!!
Many of them, after months, will have a bed on which to sleep and no longer a worn carpet that becomes damp with the rain.
We’re talking about mattresses, do you understand?
We’re talking about mattresses …
Thanks to all those who have made all this possible with their donations. The amount was not totally covered but very little was missing, but it does not matter, Support Syrian Children volunteers did the rest.
Thank you

 

 

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How beautiful normality is!

Wake up in the morning, hug mum and dad, be scolded because you are late and go to school.

Going to school.

Those lucky ones who can still embrace their mother and their father have had to renounce going to school for several years: which parent would send their child to a semi-collapsed school with a hole in the ceiling?

Which parent would have the courage to say goodbye to his child at the gate without knowing if he or she will return home?

The answer is easy: none.

The children of this refugee camp in Jordan were forced to interrupt their studies in the first years of primary school; some of them no longer remember how to write their name. The little ones have never held a pen.

In this camp during our mission in August 2016, we discovered a strong desire to bring back a bit of normality into their lives, but the material for all children was lacking.

We have therefore decided to collaborate in creating a space for learning and education by bringing notebooks, felt-tip pens, pencils and many crayons, as shown in the photos of the distribution.

Granting them a right enshrined in the greatest International Declarations means certainly giving them a strong form of emancipation, but above all granting them a bit of normality and comfort, a sign that not everyone has forgotten them.

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Here is a brief account of the recently completed mission in July 2016 in the refugee camps which our volunteers have just visited.
We report the food distribution, the distribution of stationery and the ‘twinning’ with some children in a Calabrian school who sent drawings and messages to their less fortunate peers.

 

Food Distribution

150 parcels were distributed in the three camps: inside each parcel there were flour, sugar, oil, pulses, biscuits, pasta, rice. And so much desire to communicate interest and make it clear that they are not so abandoned and forgotten by everyone.
This is what we brought to the mission in Turkey, which has just ended at the beginning of July 2016.


Midst the scorching heat and the mosquitoes that infest the air, in the middle of this compact cloud of children, the dust and those always dirty legs …
And looking at them in photos you instinctively think “I’ll come and take you away, away for a bath, away for a complete meal, away for an afternoon of games, away to let you do have a nap between fresh sheets scented with lavender” .
150 families that have food for some time, thanks to the commitment and generosity of many people here in Italy, thanks to the commitment of the volunteers who went down to witness the commitment not to forget and abandon these human beings to their fate, in a silent war that inexorably continues and continues and continues.

Stationery distribution

Words are a weapon. A powerful weapon; knowing how to read and write means emancipation, it means knowing and claiming one’s rights, and accepting one’s own duties towards others. It means to arm yourself with culture. Drawing allows you to express emotions;  drawing allows you to express your needs, desires and convictions. The border between word and drawing is not so clear. These are two concepts that intertwine with each other. For these children and for these families, being able to learn to write, read and be able to show their feelings by talking about themselves through colour is a form of resistance. They have lost their homes, work, family, security, health, sometimes arms and legs.
We are not going to let them lose even their culture, the only means of being emancipated and winning over evil and war. And these photos show that with little you can help to do a lot, really a lot for them in this sense.
Thanks also to the help of the Mahmud Committee which made this project possible.

Delivery and exchange of drawings

There are no languages, colors of skin, religions or borders that can stop the desire for peace and sharing. Many thanks to Finuccia Congi, president of the cultural association Mille Eventi, who organised a wonderful evening to finance the activities of the committee, and who collected these drawings that were brought to Turkey by our volunteers. And many thanks alst to these Italian children, and their families, and the school district of the town of Mendicino (Cosenza), directed by Professor Assunta Morrone, who reinforce with love and delicacy the relationship that binds us to these Syrian children, not so far away geographically, deprived of everything but their innocence and the desire to keep hoping.

 

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During the month of February 2016,  more than 400  food baskets  were handed out to the Syrian children and their families settled in the camps in Hureitan, in the province of Aleppo within the Syrian territory.
Neither bombs, nor fights and attacks were able to stop our friends and collaborators from helping the poor people. Unfortunately, due to safety reasons, they were obliged to make several deliveries on different days,  cramming the car and borrowing a van to be able to reach the many children and families . At last they could hand them out food.
We know it is just a little drop in the sea of their need, but for those who have nothing,  that small drop weighs more than lead
Thanks to the friends who go on supporting us , making donations, helping with organization, and distribution of food baskets and other materials , often  at their own risk. Thanks, because without them it wouldn’t be possible to help anybody.
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The beginning of each mission sees the pharmacy and the supermarket as the first stops. The employees and cashiers know who we are, they know why we are there and like every time, even this one, we came out with a huge amount of shopping that required 5 trolleys to be transported: 100 kg flour, 100 kg pulses, 50 kg sugar , 50 kg salt, 80 l of oil, 100 kg rice and then still many, many packs of sweets, lots of chocolate bars and, since you can not mess around with your teeth, even toothbrushes and toothpaste. The car, made available by the volunteer that helps us, was so full that we could not do anything except pile packets of pulses on the dashboard at the front!

To get to the camp we had to walk along a road in the middle of fields of vegetables and peppers. It would have been a pleasant pastoral vision had it not been for the bent backs of Syrian men, women and children, all intent on picking vegetables.

We arrive at the first part of the camp which has 120 tents, and it immediately becomes evident that they are not camping tents, but improvised solutions with plastic sheeting, wooden canes, twine and drapes.

We put all the food in the common tent, divided by type, and the person in charge of the camp together with his son take on the task of distributing it. Each family gets two packets of pulses, a packet of rice, a bottle of oil, a packet of salt or sugar.

The camp is located near a river, which means having a water source that can be easily accessed. Here the refugees fill tanks that once were used for detergents; the water, even if present is not clean, even the waste and rubbish end up there.

In the distance there is another camp: a camp of Syrians (130 tents) created on a rubbish tip of which the remains are still there. Some barefoot children play on the wet and filthy ground with plastic cups found there: they pick them up, put them in their mouths and this seems to be how they spend their time. In this part of the expanse there is only one source of water, a pipe that emerges from the ground and which in hiccups dispenses water for the 130 tents.

The hygienic conditions of the two settlements are disastrous. Hygiene in the fields does not exist: flies and insects everywhere, flies and even more insects, which crawl on your hands, on your face, which go into your mouth, flies and insects that in the end you don-t even feel anymore. The bathrooms are holes in the ground around which 4 branches of wood have been fixed and pieces of material have been hung. In the second camp, even water is a big problem: it is in a big bucket, filled with canisters, which must be enough for 4/5 families and whose content must be used to wash objects and for personal hygiene.

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The food, vegetables and Arabic bread,  is cooked thanks to improvised fires in large iron pots. I still smile at the thought of what the women were cooking when we arrived at the camp: fried aubergines and bread, the same dish that my Sicilian grandmother prepared for me on summer afternoons.

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