the Beginning of I58
Our beginnings into Moria camp, started with us working in Skala Sykaminia. In 2015 a few people from the U.S. and Canada went to Greece to see what opportunities may be there in light of the refugee crisis. We began helping in the camp at Skala, helping people off the boats, and giving them the first basic necessities that they needed. After spending a few hours in the Skala camp they were transferred to Moria. As time progressed we had a desire to get into camp Moria and see if we could help with the needs there.
It began with only a walk through the desperate conditions of Moria camp. Read below for the continued story.
We walked through hundreds of refugees on paths strewn with trash. We saw the prison camp and the police marching inside. Our eyes swept over the tent camp and dumpsters overflowing with garbage.
We felt helpless that day helpless as a few small volunteers in the face of all that need. Helpless to know where to help and where to start. Little did we realize that day we would be called to start a remarkable journey into Moria camp. A journey that started with a few willing hearts and some big dreams.
We started driving the hour to Moria to work in the kitchen tent outside the camp. We scooped thousands of soup bowls and chopped veggies for the stew. Some nights the people mobbed the tent and there weren’t enough volunteers to help. We asked some of the men to help us organize the food lines and we formed a system to keep chaos to a minimum. And then there were cold nights and the tents were full. One night wet boat loads came in and there were around 20 little children on one boat load. Since there was no room elsewhere, they collapsed on the kitchen tent floor where we gave them blankets. Exhausted babies fell asleep where we laid them on the hard floor.
We were told no one could get into the children’s tent or inside the family compound. A few days later we were welcomed into the children’s tent and someone from inside begged us to bring more volunteers. We handed out hundreds of blankets out in the tent camp.
Sometimes peace starts moving in mysterious ways. Sometimes dreams start forming and birthing through faithfulness in menial tasks. In Moria this meant cleaning bathrooms.
Armed with bleach and scrubbers we set to changing Moria one bathroom at a time. We dreamed of providing a safe environment for women and children where babies wouldn’t crawl around in human waste and bathrooms weren’t built up with years of scum and bacteria. We were just a small few in those days. Just a few willing hands that through bleach and toilet scrubbers worked to make a more humane place for people to live for a few days. We were tired in those days, and some moments the task seemed seriously impossible. Many of us were fighting sickness and the bathrooms didn’t seem to end. Over that time we formed friends with other organizations in camp and were eventually authorized to work in camp full time.
It was that week that i58 was born. We were small and shaky but trusting that we were able to accomplish above and beyond what we could ask or think. It started with a lot of bleach and some really weary hands. It started with dreams that were spurred into action