Hello my dear friends,
Today I was going to post another blog about Palestinian culture, but given what is happening in Lesvos I feel that it’s more important to focus on that. If you have been following the news then you will know that Moria burned to the ground a few days ago, leaving 13,000 of our refugee brothers and sisters with nothing. You can find the details here, here, here and here.
The situation on the ground is dire. The police have surrounded the Refugees and refuse to allow them to go into the closest city, Mytilene. This has left thousands to sleep on the sides of the road for 3 days with no food, no water, no medical assistance, no shelter. To say that it is an emergency may be the biggest understatement of the year.
If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you will remember that I visited this very island in the Spring of 2017 for two weeks as a sort of unofficial delegation. I spent my time visiting Pikpa, Safe Passage, Cafe Naan (a co-op restaurant that employs some of the Refugees), Scala Skamnia, the Life Jacket Graveyard , took a Ferry to Turkey to understand where many of the refugees launched from and, yes, even went to witness Moria.
What I saw at Moria that day has stayed with me these last years, and I still do not have the words to describe the tangle of emotions that I felt when I witnessed it. The camp was huge, and inside the chain linked fences were rows upon rows of what looked like shipping containers, stacked 2 and 3 high, jammed together in impossible narrow lines. Each had two windows but no indication of heat or cooling units – which has caused many refugees to die from the elements over the years. Thousands and thousands of people – 13,000 in a space meant for 3,000 – crammed the dirt walkways representing different countries, different ages, different cultures. What I remember most was the smell; a mushroom cloud of stench – sweat, blood, human waste and foul water. As my friend and I hiked a hill just behind the camp, we witnessed families living in tents – a piss poor solution to the over crowded conditions of the camp – and as we walked I found myself stopping short in horror as I saw a child laying in a puddle next to a Port-a-Potty. It didn’t move… just lie there in the puddle with wide eyes until someone came and scooped it up. That night I drank myself into a stupor, and cried myself to sleep.
As I sit and watch the news, the videos of Moria burning I find myself torn. A part of me is jubilant it burned to the ground – a fitting end for that hell on Earth – but the majority of me is extremely concerned… there is no where else for these souls to go. Locals do not want them in the city, the mayor is speaking about having them moved to a closed detention center – a worse fate than Moria – , some speak about moving them to the mainland, but conditions for them there are not much better.
Right now we must address immediate concerns; food, water, hygiene, basic medication, etc. The situation is dire, so I ask you to please consider donating funds to help address them. Pikpa is currently taking financial donations to help address these needs so they can distribute them among our brothers and sisters left on the road to die. You can donate here. I know times are rough, but I’m calling on us as Christians, as Muslims and as Jews to heed God’s commandment to welcome the stranger and to care for the poor by donating.
Much love and peace to you all,