In the refugee camp in Samos Greece, the conditions are terrible, there are 7,500 refugees living in tents and makeshift houses. the refugees are from many countries but the only thing that they have in common is that they are waiting for a legal permit to move to Europe.
My first visit in the refugee camp was just recently with my partner who came to visit me on the island while I prepare for the opening of Project TEN here. The preparation to start with the project are still underway and the volunteers haven’t arrived yet, I think i was waiting to visit the camp for the first time with someone by my side.
When we walked in the midst of the camp, we tried to avoid being recognized as outsiders, but that was impossible. Many of the men invited us for tea, and the women glimpsed at us between the clothes lines while hanging up the family laundry.
The children tried to get our attention with their broken English. While the oldest says Hello her little sister ran straight into my partner’s arms with outstretched arms, hoping for a hug. Even after getting a hug, the little girl kept following us, and saying Hello, hoping to get a hug again.
Around us, the language and music coming out of radios or instruments kept changing every few hundred meters as we were walking. We then kept walking looking for the way out before darkness. The whole way back we were amazed to see that despite the bad living conditions, people were living their lives cheerfully. The harsh reality did not stop the people we met from being positive and hoping for the best.
The little girl, our accompany, ran into the arms of a strange woman she had never seen before. A woman who is so different from her in so many ways: different body structure, different language, behavior, and more… Despite all of these differences, for this little girl this was a safe place for her to run for a hug from a perfect stranger.
I tried not to think why the girl ran to the arms of a stranger. Was it lack of a lack of attention or love? However, this was her reality and her reality is tough.
In my opinion hugging a perfect stranger for children is not the type of behavior that would be acceptable in her future if all goes well for her family.
I understood that the outstretched arms of this one little girl was not hers alone, but of all the other 2,000 children who are living tents. These children are looking not only for physical contact but also for love and emotional needs. The children want a normal childhood with games and warmth and love. the outstretched arms of these children should be a wake-up call for our society to not forget about these children and help them fulfill their needs.