Rail lines of a train leading to Neverland.
Train tracks of hope that follows the steps of thousands of people.
Borders in a place that begins to be written in history.
In a mountain, nowhere.
Uncomplaining myriad souls marching.
And fellow humans in makeshift tables who offer their souls, a bottle of water, food, a smile.
For the first time in my life I felt it.
People coming towards us for food and we all say: "it is getting dark, no more will come ..."
Nighttime has come and the food is finished, but not the people.
I feel my legs bend.
Despair. I want to cry but I cannot when I see them looking at us, smiling.
Evelina and Vassilis are calm, they open two jars of homemade marmalade and we start spreading it onto slices of toast bread. In the morning we continue to offer a slice of toast with marmalade and a bottle of water.
At dawn Vassilis offers me a coffee and he tells me stories of the locals that have been helping for months away from the spotlights of the media.
October - Idomeni
The first tents are placed, there is even a medical unit.
The buses come directly to the site and thousands of people try to maintain their dignity on the road to their "Ithaca".
Night comes ...and when it is dark it is volunteers only.
The NGOs working hours are over and we are only volunteers.
To welcome them from the buses.
To put them in the tents to rest.
To give them clothes.
To give them food.
You know it is not difficult to give a little more food or a chocolate to a child that is wet and shivering from the cold.
Difficult is to deny the extra food because you know well that you have not enough for everyone.
And when they insist with his eyes fixed upon you and you have to turn them away.
For the institutions that closed their eyes.
For the NGOs that came at 10:00 and asked us if we wanted any help after we had been there 14 hours straight distributing aid.
Anger because I was at the last tent and coordinated the passage of people to Skopje ... I ... a simple man.
And with the bus drivers pushing to do it fast so they could load more caravans of souls.
And with the authorities pressing to get rid of them.
Pouring rain, my last cigarette extinguished and a refugee gave me his own ...
Inside the tents for hours the distribution continues without us talking among ourselves without us knowing each other.
And in the end we met ... Stefanos ... Xristina ... Dimitris ... Marios ....
November - Skala Sykaminia
A coastal village in the north part of Mytilini.
A few houses, 2-3 cafes, one restaurant, one beach.
It's raining, I had heard of a makeshift kitchen.
I walk the promenade and observe torn inflatable boats.
I meet a van with a medical label in English, 1-2 tents and a makeshift kitchen.
The humidity exceeds curiosity, intensity, any feeling (yet).
People begin to gather; they greet me and we begin to clean, picking up the wet clothes all together as a hive.
And suddenly a voice is heard: BOAT
There is no emotion to describe how you feel ...
A terrible black out of emotions (but not alertness)
All together to pull the boat, "The Children First" someone else shouts.
Someone gives me a baby and I “freeze”.
I hold it high and feel like giving birth to my daughter again.
I cannot tear myself away from the beach.
I do not feel the humidity anymore.
Suddenly in the darkness I hear voices in Arabic. (These voices still haunt me)
We pull out the boat.
The cafe opens its doors and takes in people of solidarity and refugees.
Someone translates that a baby fell into the sea ...
It will never be found ...
A friend from Malaysia said:
"To be honest, I wish I do not have feelings sometimes, it hurts. It hurts so much ... "
Rayyan from Malaysia the always smiling cook, Maria from the US, Apostolis who was a native, as well as Panos with his dog Rosa who was the first to run to the boats, Ioannis from Athens, Kelly who gave me his shoes because my own got wet, Virginia and so many others (who I wrong by not mentioning them)we shared pain and joy, Michael the doctor from South Africa who one day when I was sitting alone in the rain, sad on the beach smoking a cigarette came and gave me a sandwich and just looked at me ...
December - Idomeni
Police and special forces on the one side, the army from the other.
Tents and container of NGOs.
And at one end the so-called "Ghetto" for the "dangerous refugees."
And in the Ghetto, as a Gallic village between the Romans, a green tent.
Thousands of people stranded in the cold, in small camping tents burning their jackets at night to keep warm and asking us when they will open the border.
Some pass the border and some do not.
They all suffer.
With my loyal friend (the resourceful) Othona (who puts up with my moaning and terrible music in my car) we head to the green tent.
No Borders, it says outside.
We get to know Pixie from Bosnia, Jordi the Catalan, Martina and Lea from Germany. They were in the camp in Presevo Serbia and came to Idomeni.
We have a kitchen they told me, 24 hours open, with tea and soup because the money is little, but we will stay here. We cook here, we'll sleep here.
They look at me, they do not give me instructions, I get a dirty pot and I go 800 meters away to wash it in taps with cold water ... and then another ... and yet another ...
The hours pass, it gets dark, it gets cold, frosty air.
The refugees light fires.
We are tired but Pixie tells me come.
We sit together, solidarity and refugees.
We share our cigarettes.
We sing music from our mobile phones at first.
We share the cold.
We talk about our families.
Brother we address each other.
We are one.
Idomeni, as I knew it, will die, with the blood of the first dead a few days later.
My journey has changed my life.
The people with whom I shared a few moments with will forever be my brothers. I write these lines with a significant lap of time to tame my feelings. But I cannot….
PS. Many thanks to Christina that make the translation from the original text in Greek