The team did a bunch of different things their second day in Athens–shopping, cooking, teaching English lessons. But mostly they walked.
Part of the team went out to a couple of squats to play with kids and blew bubbles and hand out stickers. As they were about to leave, one of the members of that squat told the team that he knew where a new squat was, just a short 10 minute walk away. After walking for half an hour in high heat (upper 90’s F), they finally came to the new squat and talked over needs and plans to help (like with food that evening). The new squat is filled mostly with people who have left Idomeni, the camp up near the Macedonian border that has been recently cleared out.
From there it was only a short 5 minute walk back to the center. Only 15 minutes later they made it back to the center for lunch. At this point one of our refugee friends that helps out as a translator stopped and began rubbing his leg. When asked what was wrong, he said there was shrapnel in his leg from when a bomb went off next to him in Syria. It usually doesn’t bother him unless he does a lot of walking. A team member responded with, “Wow, that’s awful.” And he said, “Lots of people have shrapnel in their bodies from bombs going off.”
So the team ate lunch, packaged up 40-50 meals of food to take to the port, and went shopping for more to make dinner for the refugees in squat #2. Then part of the team went out to the port where there are still over 1000 people camping out in various stages of the pre-registration for asylum process. They took the subway out to the end of the line where there was supposed to be a bus, but there wasn’t. So the team walked for an hour to get the rest of the way to the port. They met up with one of the refugee families we’ve befriended. A 13 year old boy in that family serves as primary translator. He learned English in 2 months using a phone app. His grandparents were dead from bombs. He said everyone has experienced bombs.
The team spread out blankets to chat and wait for sunset when our Muslim friends could eat (Ramadan has just begun) and they spent time together. One team member sat with a girl and they traded Arabic and English words and pieced together their stories with hand gestures. Others played games with kids. All heard stories of bombs and trauma. They ended up sticking around until well into the night talking and sharing the meal together.
The team walked back to the subway having crossed distances physical, emotional and spiritual. They had walked miles in the paths of refugees. Our team in Athens will continue this week (and throughout the summer) to walk in the heat of the refugee crisis. Please keep them in your prayers.