from Maayan Zohar
Chios, February 2017
I landed in the midst of Natan's campaign to help the refugees. After introductions with all parties, it slowly began to seep in. The people, the stories, the cold that penetrates through all the layers, and the desire to help. Refugee is a concept that does not even begin to describe the personal stories: who came from where and why they fled; the chaos of languages, cultures and identities mingling with the concept of something smaller. Everyone looks the same to someone who is standing outside the camp.
We pass among the tents in Souda Camp, and greet people. Day by day we begin to recognize faces, families, women and girls who share their stories through training sessions on resilience and trauma. Even the volunteers here on the island are facing a difficult reality. There's a lack of training in the various organizations and despite all the good will, it is not always enough to change the harsh reality of this crisis. Chios is only a fraction of what is happening in Jordan, Lebanon, Germany, Sweden and many other countries which have been filled with asylum seekers in a short time. It is becoming increasingly difficult not to think about my family. This man my father's age slept in a tent filled with water. The woman with the baby reminds me of my grandmother and grandfather who ran away with their baby during the Holocaust. It all comes together, and now everything we learn leads us to stories of strength and bravery. People who have done everything for their families, for their neighbors; people who left everything behind, venturing out into the unknown. History repeats itself, and this time, what will the next generation have to say? What have we done for the sake of those who escaped the inferno, the regime which tried to destroy them, and the extremist group which was even worse than the government? When you see the big picture, it may seem like a small matter. But we were there, we sat with them, heard their names, their stories, and we tried to strengthen them and help them cope and fight for their rights. We will say that we did what we could. And the more people who join us, the more people who know who they are, their names, and them ... They knew they were not alone anymore in this war. And it is really no small thing, it is a great deal.
Maayan Zohar is a Social Worker currently completing her Master's Degree in Humanitarian Action from Uppsala University and University College Dublin. Maayan is a humanitarian worker and a feminist, working on resilience building and coping with trauma. Maayan is an active member of Natan's Psycho-Social Unit and served in Natan's recent operation on Chios, where she worked with refugees and trained volunteers of international aid organizations.