i58 Greece

The Oasis

Lesvos, Greece

Our Work

Imagine having no choice other than to live with your family in a camp with thousands of others.  At the Oasis we have been able to create a safe place where families and individuals are able to sit and relax, while being served tea and snacks. We invite you to scroll down and read about what a day at the Oasis could possibly look like. Please join us as we strive to provide a safe place for those living in the midst of uncertainty. 

A Day at the Oasis

Keys rotate in the lock and the twin white doors swing open. We’re at The Oasis and it’s a new day. As the colorful flow of refugee people stream in, they look around the room for an empty place and sit down. The room is filled with low tables surrounded by Middle-Eastern-style cushions and pillows on the floor. This may be strange for Americans, however Middle Easterners have said it feels “like a living room”. That is precisely the desired effect, as our goal is to provide a peaceful, safe place where people who live in the horrid conditions of a refugee camp can come and relax in our care. As soon as one of our staff notices a new visitor taking a seat, a little tray with biscuits and nuts or fruit is brought to them. Another volunteer grabs a pot of hot tea and a stack of cups, offering aromatic and much-appreciated tea to each person.

Since our goal is to maintain an aura of “welcome to our home”, we spend time mingling with the people; greeting, welcoming, and taking the time to get to know them and their stories if they desire. Currently, an average of 400 people are coming through per day, although from month to month this number tends to fluctuate.

In the back of the building, staff are busily washing and drying trays, making tea, and filling clean trays with snacks. Others carry used trays and trash in from the busy tearoom, or hurry out with rags to clean up the inevitable spills. At the end of the day, the doors again swing shut, signaling our crew of five or six men from camp who volunteer with us to swing vacuums and brooms and prepare the place for another busy day at The Oasis.

In between the peanuts and the little beads that seem to multiply every time they spill, you exchange smiles and hugs with a lady who speaks no English at all. You learn how to say "I like banana milkshakes" in Farsi. You realize that your favorite meals from the whole three months are the ones cooked for you by refugees. One of the boys makes you a special bracelet with his favorite soccer team's colors, and you get to high five and fist bump every time you see him. You see people that have become dear friends get their paperwork approved, and you let out a breath you didn't even realize you were holding...because going back would have meant death. You admire baby pictures over and over, not just because she's adorable, but because the proud father had to leave before she was born.

A. hostetler

Though many of the women coming to the Oasis know little or no English, I learned that much can be communicated with a few words,
many creative hand gestures, and a lot of laughter and love.
Some of my favorite memories include conversations like these, where understanding and connection were possible
in spite of considerable differences in culture, language, and religion.

L. yoder

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