St George & the Hammam

The drive takes more than an hour, we pass the rock with a hole and a cross in it. St George once jumped through the hole as legend goes. I discuss with Angelos our driver for the day about our shared interest in photography. If you drive for half an hour more you would be at the beach, but we stop at the gate of Filippiada camp. No military guards are around and we enter without any registration. The first tents are not far from the entrance. A lady with her leg in bandages and metal pins sticking out lies on long chair behind a wooden sign with the text ‘Welcome to hotel Fillippiada’ and ‘Available Hamman, sauna and massage.’ These people clearly have not lost their sense of humour. Today I work with Judith, an Irish volunteer, who speaks flawless Arabic and with her modest demeanor opens up anyone to talk. Although they have created their ‘own hotel with hamman and sauna’ the people share the toilets are too far for the woman who has broken her leg and the pregnant lady next door. Especially at night, it is dark and difficult to see. Although a breeze cools us down outside the tents here up in the mountains, the heat is already engulfing us. You do not even need to be in a tent to know that they will feel like saunas.

Beads & a boy

His smile is irresistible and he has a little bracelet with colourful beads in his hand. His mother and grandmother do not smile. They look tired and give their child and grandchild hugs and kisses, but cannot put much energy to it, while also being interviewed by Judith. The conversation looks intense. I stick my hand out and the boy offers me the beads, while making funny faces and a popping sound with my lips the boy starts to imitate me. We smile at each other and his little pops are even more irresistible. I put the bracelet on the floor and move some of the beads carefully from one side to another, the boy repeats and for the next 15 minutes, we continue, I move 1, he moves 1, I move 2, he moves 2, I move 3, he moves 3 and every time his smile breaks his toddler face open. We are having loads of fun while his mother shares her struggle in the camp and her need for psychological support. She has thoughts of suicide and feels desperate about their situation. I keep playing with the boy, take the bracelet in my fist behind my back and let him choose which hand the bracelet is in. He does not laugh loud, but again his smile speaks a 1000 stories. When we leave the tent I wave goodbye and offer him my biggest smile. A small smile forms around the lips of the mother and grandmother.

Pink & Purple crayons

Her face is open and she shares with enthusiasm. I can immediately see Judith enjoys her company and the interview is going well. I see a couple of small feet from behind the tent entrance. They move a bit and small sounds come from behind the canvas. The mother calls her daughter, a blond curl20160811_143624y girl in a pink dress. She says she is warm and plays with a water sprayer too cool herself and her mother down. It doesn’t take me long to convince the girl to come sit next to me. She grabs a little pink purse and some crayons come out. I take a piece of paper out of my bag and offer it to her to draw on. She starts with enthusiasm and I join in, she lets me without hesitation. I trace my hand for her to colour, then she traces mine. We laugh and continue, she knows how to say her name in English. Then we start colouring our fingers and she takes the water sprayer to clean my hands. We repeat and she shakes her head. I should not make my hands dirty again. I tease her by colouring my finger again, she grabs hold of it and washes it again clean.

We both laugh and secretly I wish this little sunshine all the best in the world and even more.

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