I’m flying to Greece tomorrow. I haven’t packed yet, it’s no holidays. Not that I would know what to pack if I were to go on holidays. I never backpacked to hell. That’s how I imagine it will be. It will look like heaven, and people will be nice, but it will be hell. Hell because the blue sea I’ll see will be calm, but we will be expecting boats. And the boats which won’t make it will leave lifeless bodies on the beaches of the island. Maybe I’m just being dramatic, maybe it won’t be like that.
Maybe the Greek Minister I listened to a moment ago on the BBC, who was saying that the Belgians asked Greece to push the migrants back to the sea, was lying. Maybe, just maybe, Denmark isn’t really voting a law to seize refugees’ goods upon their arrival. And maybe Europe isn’t thinking so hard on how to push back unwanted migrants but instead is putting all its energy in saving people from the waters. Literally.
I planned on spending one full day in Athens prior to Lesvos. I thought I would do a bit of sightseeing before heading to Lesvos – maybe a day of to brace myself before the island. I never imagined I would be visiting Greece in that context. Before, Greece was Aristophane, Herodotus, Socrates, Pericles. Now I have the feeling I’m going to the end of the world, since I’m going to face an invisible border, set on deadly waters. I take comfort in knowing there will be plenty of other people of good will, there to try to make up for shameful policies.
I don’t know what to expect, nor do I know how I will react to what I see. But I carry with me the memories created during all the moments I spent with refugees and fellow volunteers in Berlin, and they make me strong enough to leave my comfort zone. At the LaGeSo, at the shelters, at the train arrivals, in the classroom. Hundreds of people, all of them occupying a special place in my mind, sometimes blurred by time but unforgotten. What we go through emotionally, as volunteers (what does that mean, by the way? does one have to voluntarily show compassion? shouldn’t that be a given?), is indescribable. It’s like putting our hearts into a bumping cars game, and it’s not for us to decide when it stops. All the commotion could only be over if the people we defend would get a roof, would get some rest, would be allowed to live normal lives. Until then, there will be us, the volunteers. We don’t weight much, officially, but each and everyone of us is another drop added to an ocean of compassion. I wish this ocean of empathy will prevail over political games and the cruel indifference of many to so the desperate cries for help we should hear rising from so many wounded countries.