WEEK 1 – 12/07/2017
My first week on the island has been nothing short of eye-opening. Upon arriving I was greeted by a few volunteers who would be working within the same organization as I. After settling in at the volunteer house, I began work in one of the main camps on the island still receiving refugees despite already being over capacity. Our main tasks for this week consisted of installing a permanent source of water above the restrooms, as well as installing tarps to provide shade in a part of the sprawling camp. Water in the camp is only available for two hours each day, resulting in squalid conditions in the restrooms and leaving many refugees with no way to wash themselves before prayer. Shade in the camp is extremely limited, and as a result many refugees are forced to constantly endure the full heat of summer sun.
With help from the residents, we were able to successfully install the new water tank and three new shaded areas. Completing these additions is a good first step towards making sure the living conditions in the camp remain hospitable for the residents as they undergo the lengthy asylum process. I was immediately struck by the helpfulness, kindness, and compassion shown by of many of the refugees while working in the camp alongside them. Stories shared to me by those helping us with our projects quickly gave a new perspective into the severity of this crisis in a way that many news reports on the situation are unable to do. I am looking forward to working with these incredible people in the coming months both to help improve living conditions and to remind them that they have not been forgotten.