Hi - Live from Greece! I have been struggling with where to start… I am quite convinced I am not going to say anything to change anyone’s mind about the politics of this crisis, nor do I have any solutions to offer. It is so much to grapple with and honestly I feel like I know less now than ever. I am here as a midwife and for that I am so grateful.
I love being a midwife because it is such a beautiful lens to stand behind. I’m here for the mothers and their babies, the families… it is the “happy” in this difficult situation. I am not saying it isn’t heart-wrenching, because it certainly is. Heart-wrenching. Can your heart be swollen? Because that is how mine feels. Both big and broken at the same time. Maybe humanity shows its best and worst in times of crisis.
I have had the pleasure of seeing many pregnant women. I wish I could explain to you how eager they are to hear their babies’ heartbeats. It is etched in my memory bank, the look of relief and joy. One mother was so pleased she kissed me. She said thank you so earnestly that it made me unsteady on my feet. I felt dizzy from her gratitude. I wanted to imagine she was going home to a warm bed and not to a tent, I wanted to pretend this would all be over for her and she wouldn't have her baby on the road.
But she will have this baby on the road, she is 37 weeks along, this baby will come soon. It is a lot. Too much. I’d love to tell you about David. He grew up in Iran and moved to Afghanistan. He is 28, well educated and on his way to Germany to be with his sister. In Iran and Afghanistan he has spoken out against ISIS and the Taliban and has been captured and held several times. He left 2 weeks ago and just made it to Greece. He walked into the medical tent where I was working because he heard we might need help translating. We did need help, and his Farsi and Arabic translations made the shift much smoother. He was kind and gentle.
David has endured far too much in his life. All of us, the doctors, nurses, and shift coordinators all sat in a circle and heard his story. Someone asked him what we could do to help, he replied “Do you know what dua is?” and our coordinator Sagel replied “Yes, it’s prayer.” Everyone had tears in their eyes, he simply wants a better, safer homeland for the next generation. Less war and more opportunity. Me too, David.
I have had some lighthearted adventures as well. On my day off I went north to explore some other refugee camps and had a beautiful road trip. Lesvos is so gorgeous! I got pretty lost a few times and driving a stick on switchback mountain roads can grind on your gears.. Pun intended. ha!
I spent the day volunteering with one of my favorite organizations here- Dirty Girls of Lesvos! Wait for it… They do laundry! They take the dirty clothes and blankets and wash them, then restock the clothing centers on the island. That way they reuse and recycle as opposed to bringing more stuff onto the island. Most of the refugees are very wet and cold when they reach the shore and having clean, dry items ready is vital. And because I volunteered with them I am officially a Dirty Girl of Lesvos!
I am happy to be in Sappho Square writing to you. I have a 8 year old pup named Sappho, named after the Greek poet that lived here on this very island during Antiquity. I love being in her homeland. I love Greece. I love the happy kids playing with balloons, oblivious to what is happening around them. My swollen heart hopes they all make it home soon. It’ll be a new home and I hope it is welcoming, safe and filled with love.
Thank you all so much for supporting me and this journey.