Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Resurfacing

I’m sorry it’s been a while since I wrote a blog entry. To tell the truth, I’ve been pretty depressed. When I wrote my Truth and Consequences post, I concluded by saying that the ripple effects of the rape would probably extend farther than I could guess. Unfortunately, I was right.

I don’t regret writing the post and exposing the truth, but I’ve felt pretty horrible the past couple of weeks. It wasn’t just the aftermath of whistleblowing—it was the windy weather keeping those little rickety boats full of refugees out of the sea, it was the threat of looming NATO ships we all expected to see in the narrow strip of the Aegean that divides northern Lesvos from Turkey by a scant six miles, it was the fact that as this crisis progresses, organizing improves and the world’s big NGOs take over much of the work we small grass roots groups were doing; there was not much work. Volunteers were being given unprecedented days off. People were moving on to the Macedonian border, Turkey, and other islands, only to find them quiet too. I contacted some other groups working directly with refugees but didn’t hear back. I spent some days at the Hope Center. But not all that many.

Because that’s where that ripple effect came into play. I know the mess wasn’t my fault, but when the rapist first created those ripples, they bounced off me and that started a lot of other ripples. The water got pretty churned up. As refugees crossing the Aegean in rubber dinghies know, calm waters are much better for smooth sailing. The rape caused a number of problems—the victim’s pain, the organization’s cover-up, my revelations… and then my revelations caused more problems. Of most concern to me, was a dissension in the ranks of those who stood together in condemning the rape, but differed in what to do about it. Lesvos is a small island, and Molyvos is a tiny town. Even smaller is the volunteer community. I started feeling uncomfortable about being in Molyvos, about volunteering at the Hope Center nearby, and I was here to work with refugees. That’s why I came.

But with nobody responding to my emails, I got pretty low. For those of you who know me, you probably know I’ve battled serious depression most of my life. Usually, these days, I can manage it okay. But sometimes I get in a situation I just can’t seem to pull myself out of. There’s a lot of inertia in depression.

Eventually I heard back from a group in Turkey and a group in Lebanon who told me to come. I had intended to go to Turkey a little later anyway, and I adore Lebanon—it was my first home—but I wasn’t ready to leave Greece. I wasn’t ready to leave Lesvos. I wasn’t ready to leave Moria. I felt like I had unfinished business there, that I hadn’t done enough, I don’t know…something. I decided against Lebanon for two reasons: more admin work than I really wanted and that my kids would probably freak out if I went to the Bakaa Valley. Hell I might freak out if I went to the Bakaa Valley—especially as a US American. Maybe not so smart. So I decided on Turkey, but was having a hard time actually moving on it.  I wasn’t ready. I wanted to go back to Moria first. Maybe it’s just that I quit so abruptly.

Anyway, as soon as I got word from the Turkish and Lebanese solidarity groups, I heard from groups here on Lesvos. So, starting on Saturday, February 27 (exactly a month before I leave for Turkey) I’ll be on my first shift back at Moria with the Swedish volunteer group I Am You. They have taken over Starfish’ shifts (who are no longer working at Moria) for the present. I will also possibly be working with the lovely folks at Afghan Hill, Better Days for Moria—at least as a liaison since their group is not recognized as official and so not allowed inside Moria proper.


I’m really looking forward to being back at Moria, allocating RHUs, struggling to communicate in what little bits of Arabic and Farsi I have, and being part of a community. And I’ll have stories to tell again that aren’t just about me being miserable. Should make it much easier to write. Thanks for listening.

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