There have been many changes to Nea Kavala in the last couple of weeks, but one thing is a constant, We Are Here! Hundreds of people have left camp recently, moving to houses and hotel rooms elsewhere in Greece. This leaves vast stretches of the container line uninhabited and eerily quiet. For those who decided to stay, it is a very different camp to the one they knew before, sparsely populated and therefore with less community feeling.
We continue to run activities and lessons for children and adults in the Community Centre and Women’s Space despite the low numbers, and still have a strong core group of interested students who regularly take part. Although the number of participants is relatively low, we are pleased to provide some consistency to their week, show we care about them and their education, have a good time together and hopefully better prepare them for their future lives in Europe with language acquisition.
As we predicted, more refugees arrived in Nea Kavala a few days ago from other overcrowded camps. These people had been in a detention centre, a closed camp from which they couldn’t leave. Arriving in Nea Kavala, despite the better conditions and services available as well as it being ‘open’, almost all of these newcomers had left by the next afternoon, preferring autonomy. Perhaps they feared the camp would lock the gates in the future, or just couldn’t imagine spending any more time in another inhumane refugee camp.
For the next arrivals, we wanted to make them feel at home in Nea Kavala. When they joined us a few days later, our team created a nice atmosphere for their initial registration in the camp. We made a seating area in a corner of the white tent with sweet tea, and a children’s play area with puzzles, drawing and games. While they registered with the Red Cross and acquired basics like blankets for the first night, we welcomed the newcomers.
The transition into the camp community has been much smoother this time. The next day we distributed a little information about We Are Here and what we offer, as well as made a bilingual map of the camp and local town, with services provided. Hopefully with this knowledge they can settle into their new life here with some ease.
On Saturday we rounded up the children for a special science experiments day and were happy to see so many of the new children come along. Cat brought lots of interesting hands-on activities and everyone loved being a ‘Scientist’ for the day – circuiting electricity with graphite on paper, using strong magnets and a battery to make copper wire spin, breaking the surface tension of coloured milk, making kazoos from straws…
Having enjoyed their first experiences with We Are Here, we are proud many of the new children are already regulars in our morning activities. Some adults have also shown an interest in language classes and we hope to level them into classes in the next few days and get as many people as possible involved in what they enjoy.
In other news, the Get Shit Done Team has completed work on a large, recently unused tent – it had been greatly damaged by wind. We now have a strong, insulated and re-covered large indoor space with a wooden floor which we will share with other organisations on camp. It’s already proved itself popular as an indoor football pitch and we hope to run other sports activities in the tent, as well as cinema nights, theatre group rehearsals and special events. We would like to thank Get Shit Done for creating an ideal muti-functional space for all at Nea Kavala!
Our theatre group, Escosirak, continues to meet twice a week and they are currently working on a new piece. Many members of the group have moved into hotels or apartments near Thessaloniki but are still very committed and travel to attend bi-weekly practices. They enjoy the self-expression they gain from drama and hope to tell their story to the world with videos posted online. We look forward to seeing their new one soon.
Many thanks to everyone for your continued support of our project, from all at We Are Here!