At Serres, the new Yazidi camp, We Are Here now have accessand this week some of our team has been there to start work on building up our activities. On Sunday we had our first community centre team meeting with some old friends, and on Wednesday we ran two workshops with the adults: one with the team of people who have volunteered themselves to run children’s activities including song, dance and drama, and one with the teachers who will be teaching English to the children. We left centre managers with the material needed to organise the placement tests for the adults to be able to begin, or continue, English language lessons.
At Nea Kavala camp over the past couple of weeks we have been readjusting, and helping the camp to readjust, after the big departure of the yazidi population and many others from the camp. We have also made the most of different moments – calmer times or moments of generous teamwork from all around – to make some material and decorative improvements to the centre. With the downturn in mood the focus has been on bringing fresh colour, life and community into the camp, both in terms of physical materials and activities. A massive thank you for the latter has to go to the Spanish theatre group Paramythades who brought much needed music, theatre and creative expression. Shows and workshops, circus and musical performances, with the finale last Saturday night of a short play written and performed by people from the camp. Having had this taste of creative expression they are now eager to keep it alive by creating their own theatre group and the first workshops have began this week.
Our children’s lessons still continue but we often have to think on our feet each morning if we are low on teachers.. Our team from the camp dream of simply a failed alarm clock or an annoying commute but their working conditions are so much more complicated. And yet they continue to work alongside us and us alongside them. Some faces we see every single day. The centre provides purpose and structure for them, but it also relies on them. We have to find the right balance between passing over and sharing as much responsibility as we can without it becoming a burden for people on a bad day. And so often there are impromptu English lessons or colouring sessions, ran by volunteers or helpers from the camp thrown into a different role for the morning, when teacher numbers are low. Everybody has to be adaptive.
But one thing is sure and that is that many of the children are orientating themselves around the activities at the centre. Waking up to music and the Ramsamsam morning dancing and singing. Then run to wash hands and a race to the gate for the little ones and to the outdoor activities for the older ones. An inside-outside changeover after an hour. Lining up to leave the classroom, a drink of water from a colourful cup and a squirt of suncream and joining in the singsong seeeee you tomorrooow parting greeting. Little big things. A smile. Splashing water. A cheeky grin. A hand squeeze. A proudly clutched piece of paper to show mum or dad. A fierce grasp at normality.
Our other activities are also growing. English, dance and yoga classes in the women’s space, a slowly but steadily growing collection of books and efforts to raise funds to buy more. We hope to buy many Arabic – English dictionaries , the most popular item in the centre that people pour over for hours when they can get their hands on one.
All of these things are plasters on a wound but it is important, in spite of knowing that, that we keep working together to try to make sure the plaster stays in place.