Karian and Box volunteer in Lesvos – The boredom of waiting
This is Ghassan’s story.
Emotions are not in short supply in a refugee camp – frustration, anger, fear, deep sadness and, yes, happiness too are found in abundance at every corner of the camp’s rows of corrugated huts.
Boredom is also part of life for refugees waiting to make the next stage of their journey to safety and a new home. Waiting for the next meal; for the clothing tent to open; for the doctor; for registration as a ‘legit’ refugee with the official paperwork. And with lots of waiting, comes boredom.
Kids pass the time playing with sticks and whatever they can find around the camp. Adults mill around or simply wait in their hut or tent (mostly in darkness as there is little or no electricity in the camps).
So it was with some surprise that I heard Arabic music playing as I was doing my food distribution rounds at the back of the camp yesterday. Thinking it was an enterprising individual who had a battery operated radio, it was even more of a surprise to find three guys sitting outside their hut playing and singing traditional Syrian songs. With a violin and an Arab drum, they were keeping themselves occupied and entertained. More importantly, they were entertaining the people in the few huts around them.
I asked if they would be willing to play to the rest of the camp queued for the lunch Oxfam distribute, and they jumped at the chance. We soon had a huge crowd listening, clapping and joining in.
Feeding the people in the camp is critical but it is too often that their emotional needs go unmet. Whether it be organising a football game for the young guys, putting on music for people or other ways of helping them forget about their many worries, it is the one thing that is sorely needed.
PS: Chatting with the musical trio, Wael Karam (the violinist) told me how all three of them had had to travel light from Syria and to throw away any unnecessary items of clothing or luggage. The one thing he could never be parted from was his violin — “Even if I have to lose everything else, I can never be parted from it. It is my life, like another part of me.”
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