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Support and Inspiration from the Sixth Grade

It has been just over a week since I left Lesvos to return back to the USA and I just got home on Monday. I took the longest route home, partially because it was cheapest and partially because I made a detour to see some friends on the east coast. Since getting back to Portland, it's been a whirlwind few days as I tried to get my bearings, as I pack for a move to the Bay on Saturday and as I try to say hi (and bye) to as many people as I can. One of the highest items on my to do list during my 5 days in Portland was to stop by my friend, Ms. Maynard's, sixth grade class.

I'm Glad I'm Here

Someone asked me last week, "How is your volunteer trip going?" I've been quiet. Not because I have nothing to say, trust me--there's a lot that's been happening, but more so because there hasn't been as much time to sit and write. Or I'm simply too exhausted to. Or more often than not, there's so much to say and share, I struggle with where to start.

Finding the Silver Lining at the Ferry Building

Saturday night. I was sitting at a bar with a fellow volunteer and new friend, Maria, having a glass of wine when we got word that hundreds of refugees were stranded outside at the port because ferries had been cancelled or rescheduled for the next morning. There was an abandoned building next to the port that they were camped out in as they waited out a pretty strong wind storm. They needed some help and supplies like blankets and food brought down, so we called a friend with a car and hitched a ride to the ferry building.

From Stab Wound to All Smiles

While the weather the past few days have been reminiscent of spring days, sunny with a chill but dry, we do have winter days where the rain doesn't let up and the cold sets into your body. As a result, most of what we see in the clinic are colds, or what's come to be dubbed as the Moria flu (headache, runny nose, sore throat, cough). Every once in a while we do get something different, like a broken leg, sprained ankle, toothache, pregnancy issue and even a stab wound. Yes, stab wound. That's what happened the other day.

My Monday night was a special one. It was my first shift on my own at the clinic, meaning there wasn't anyone to ask questions to. I kind of knew what I was supposed to do but also had no idea what I was supposed to do--but it was going to happen. Fake it 'til you make it? And made it I did. From helping reunite two different families with missing family members to using my Hindi/Gujarati to act as an Urdu translator (very similar languages) to working with an incredible group of people, it was a good night. The highlight of the night was meeting David though.

Reuniting Never Felt This Good 

Yesterday was a good day. I finished my first solo shift. I helped two different families semi-reunite with missing loved ones. And I held back tears as a wonderful soul shared his story and experience fleeing the Taliban with us (covered in a later post). This is why I'm here.It was my first day of working solo and working an evening shift. And 5/6 people who were working were new. With so many volunteers coming and going, this is pretty typical but it also means you need to think on your feet and just figure things out. Challenge accepted.

Day 0 and Day 1

As I was telling you last night before I drifted off into deep sleep (melatonin, you are helping me kick jetlag's butt like no one's business!), I had the option of taking it easy yesterday and acclimating, or checking out the camp and helping out. I wanted to do something so I opted to head to Moria camp to finally see with my own eyes the camp that I heard so much about.  This black barn right here is the Moria Medical Clinic that's run by Offtrack Health, and where I'll be spending most of my time. I'm what they call a floor manager--I'm responsible for intake of patients, crowd control, recording notes and anything else in between. I stopped by yesterday to see the clinic, meet some people and just get the lay of the land. And to buy a local SIM card nearby.

So It Begins

All my bags are packed, (I think) I'm ready to go...Singing that song is how I woke up my roommate this morning at 4:15am to drive me to the airport. (Best roomie ever--for taking me to the airport, and not hitting me for singing.) I, myself, woke up after my second of five alarms went off at 4:05am after an hour of sleep, with the lights on, because I was terrified that I wouldn't wake up. Anyone else have that fear or just me? Today was the day. I was starting the long journey to Lesvos to volunteer at the refugee camps.