Hello everyone! This is Noah Shingleton on behalf of the Greece team. Thank you so much for continuing to think and pray for us as we serve in Lesvos in Moria camp. I do not believe that any amount of words could properly portray the things we have seen and experienced so far in Moria, but I will try to give an overview of what our lives and schedules have looked like in Lesvos these past 6 days.
Our team came to Moria at the perfect time to fill a huge need of volunteers in a camp that is currently in somewhat of a crisis mode. This is largely due to the weather. As Bri mentioned earlier, our first day there was a huge storm. Lesvos got over 2 inches of rain that first day. The second day it snowed 2 inches, the third day the snow melted, the fourth day it snowed 4 more inches in the Southern part of the island which is where Moria is, the fifth day it rained most of the day, and today was nice for the first half of the day and now it is pouring again. It’s supposed to rain most of the next 2 days as well. The locals said this is more snow at one time than they have gotten in twenty to thirty years! Overall this is the worst week of weather in recent Lesvos history. This weather has thrown Moria into even more chaos than they normally experience, and our team has been thrust into daily 9 hour shifts to try and control the madness.
Our jobs during our shifts mainly consist of 3 things: clothing, security, and information. If you work clothing you go out into the camp in the morning to a certain section each day and visit the tents to assess what the people need, collect the things they need in the clothing storage container, and they come pick it up in the afternoon. Security is mainly standing at one of the 5 family compounds and making sure the only people who get into the compound are workers and the families themselves. It is important that we keep the families and vulnerable refugees away from the majority of single men who inhabit Moria. Information can best be described as solving problems. Whether it is repairing or replacing a tent, putting a pallet under a tent to raise it from the water underneath, exchanging wet blankets and sleeping bags for new ones, taking a census, shoveling snow, salting the roads, running all sorts of errands, you never really know what you will be doing if you work information.
I do not want to write a depressing blog, but I will say that the need is much greater than any of us expected to experience before we arrived. There are just over 4,000 refugees in a camp that had an original capacity of 3,000. Most live in tents and have been continually cold and wet during the past week. The majority of the refugees are somewhat on edge and always in need of something during this hard time, and it is impossible to meet even half of the requests that are given to us. We have to say no a lot, and that is so hard to tell someone who has so little that we do not have another pair of gloves to give out. Please pray that we can show these refugees love in the midst of saying no. It is hard for them to understand that we are still trying to help and love them even when we cannot give them what they ask for.
This week has been hard for team unity in particular. 12 of us are on the 8am – 4:30pm shift and 7 of us work the graveyard shift from 12am – 8:30am. The graveyard shift has been especially hard for those who are now doing it for the fourth night in a row, and we will most likely have a few more night shifts in next week’s schedule. You basically just sit at a gate and make sure no one gets in for 8 hours alone in the cold. The only time our team is fully together right now is in the evenings for dinner and team time, and we always make the most of that time with stories of our day or night at work and much laughter. Thankfully all 19 of us have the same shift on Saturday and Sunday after our day off on Friday.
Thank you again for your support throughout our journey and preparation for this trip. There is so much more to write, but I am off to bed so I can get up for another 8am shift tomorrow and 7 of our team is about to head to Moria for the graveyard shift!
On behalf of the Greece team,