Refugees, climate and other issues - blog

Since I started in August 2015 to welcome refugees in Munich, 2016 in Idomeni camp and from 2017 on in Thessaloniki I have been writing texts to inform about the situation.

Sometimes also as a kind of therapy for myself.

I have been invited to read from my texts, speak about my experiences and give seminars.

 

In the years 2018-2023 I got more than €37.000 donations from friends and people in solidarity from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, France, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Spain, Romania. 

 

For our activities to fight against climate change we also need donations, as Greece needs a lot of sensibilisation for the issue and there is no money. Stay here informed about our activities.

      

IBAN: DE14701500000903121812 / BIC: SSKMDEMM

PayPal: verena.fink@posteo.org

Ελληνικός λογαριασμός: GR8602602060000100201430994 / BIC: ERBKGRAA


22.03.2024

„I hate your country“. She spoke about Greece where she is living as a migrant for more than a decade. With three children, the smallest with a lot of health and development issues. We know each other for more than six years. We still speak English as she could not make it to learn Greek.

What she doesn’t know is that it is not because she isn’t Greek, but because this country is a mess - for everyone.

Her daughter stayed close to me and was hugging me, I think she cannot really remember me, I am just so glad she can attend school as for many years it wasn’t clear if she can walk and speak one day.

„When I was working with you in your organisation it was the best time for me. You treated me well, like a normal human being, I was feeling so good.“ she said.

I couldn’t stop smiling and thanking her and I almost cried when she left. But before I told her how much it means to me what she expressed. 

How many bad experiences from people we supported all the years I have in my mind and in my soul. So much time and energy we put into this voluntary work and very few we got back.

The girl did not stop saying bye when they left and I took a deep breath, feeling the consolation that I somehow need. 


22.11.2023

Yesterday a 78yo friend said to me „I don’t regret the bad things I did in my life, I regret all the good things I didn’t do. But you are a person who is using every chance to take that opportunity to do what has to be done.“

If it is true or not - I felt bad as I just had the other day the thought „maybe all the years and decades of activism are over now. I am tired.“

The injustice in the world huge, me tiny and not healthy at the moment. I feel I should retire. Should I? Can I?


27.10.2023

Я Я - the boy wrote. And was surprised that I can read Ukrainian.

After playing with the toy gun and scribbling with all his tension on three pages of my notebook.

“We will go back to Ukraine. It is very difficult here for us.” a woman I met with her daughter right after the begin of the Russian attack on Ukraine when they fled to a cousin in Thessaloniki.

 

I am so sad again and again for all the children all over the world who have to flee war. To live as refugees. To learn a new language. And to go possibly “back” to the country that changed since they had to flee. And is still not safe.

 

Again: no one decides reckless to take the children and leave home. 

And: there are only losers in a war. Always.


17/10/2023

„How are you?“, we asked each other. „I am on the sofa, I have that pain in the ankle and every day I am saying „tomorrow I will take a rest“ and today I cannot move anymore.“ - „I could only work a couple of hours today, I am in bed, Long Covid really knocked me down.“

She is running with two other people a small organisation in Germany, where we met 7 years ago, and they are doing amazing work in supporting people in Munich, Greece, Uganda, Ukraine, Syria, and, and, and…

I was running for years a place where we were doing up to 6 days a week solidarity activities.

We are tired.

We are finally able to express it.

„It will never be enough“, a friend said the other day when I expressed my feelings that stopping the food distributions brought so many families in troubles.

To do voluntary work is great. But we forgot during the last 8 years to live our lives.

To stay healthy. To do our jobs. To have enough money to survive.

A new chapter. With a sprained ankle. With fatigue. On the sofa. In bed. For us 🎈


In Griechenland brennen wie jedes Jahr die Wälder.

In den Städten werden (meist gesunde) Bäume abgeholzt, in Thessaloniki - sowieso schon mit der schlechtesten Luftqualität Europas - ist es nun im Sommer bei andauernden 36-42 Grad kaum mehr auszuhalten (und dennoch geht das Fällen weiter).

Eine LNG Station soll im Golf vor der Stadt ankern, Umweltschutz ist der Regierung egal, somit auch einen Großteil der Bevölkerung.

 

Das Greenwave Festival findet dieses Jahr das 11.Mal statt - wenn wir es wagen wieder alles aufzubauen, einige neue Zelte zu kaufen, Gäste für die Veranstaltungen aus Griechenland und Europa einzuladen um uns über grüne Ideen, Kämpfe und Erfolge zu berichten etc…

Unsere finanzielle Situation ist schlechter denn je, bitte teilt das Crowdfunding wild, wilder am wildesten!

Just Green it!!

Wir haben es so nötig hier

https://gogetfunding.com/greenwave-festival-2023/


22/07/2023

„Ok, no Food. This?“, she asked and pointed at a poster with clothes we have on our door.

It was difficult to explain her that we don’t do any distributions anymore.

„Tomorrow? Next week open?“

It was difficult to tell her that we don’t provide help anymore for the basic needs of the people. Locals, migrants, refugees.

This chat made it even worse.

I feel guilty that the only feeling I have now is relief.

Relief that we stopped the distributions after all these years when we supported hundreds and maybe thousands of people in that small place run by a couple of volunteers.


05/07/2023

We have to tell the people this week that we will stop the distributions.

„Why“, one women who knows English, asked me and I explained. „That’s very bad news“, she said. „It was so helpful“.

I am expecting the next days and the coming week many people as everyone in the camp will learn it now and will try to get whatever is possible. 

I feel bad because we don’t try anymore to find a way to continue.

I feel relieved when I think that we will stop after so many years finally.


01/07/2023

To get a new passport was this time a bit more tricky. But still. There is the German consulate in Thessaloniki and I have a new passport for the next ten years.

For me it is every time like a little wonder that it is so easy, as I see so many people since so many years who cannot go anywhere because they don’t have the “right” passport.

Before I left the consulate, I had a conversation with the guy at the reception about passports, refugees in general, that his grandparents are refugees from Minor Asia, that his parents went for work to Germany and that he went there for studying but wanted to come back immediately afterwards.

And he said what we were saying so often the last period: “our grandparents refugees, our parents migrants and our generation fascists”. People have a short memory…

To get your passport easily is not because you are a better person but because you are randomly born somewhere. And we never know if we suddenly also will become refugees.


20/06/2023

World Refugee Day.

How many years do we write something on that day.

Every year we have fewer words.

We have more sadness and anger.

Refugees around the world. War and poverty in so many countries.

On the borders of the EU, on the borders of Greece, crimes every day.

Every year I have fewer words.

I have more sadness for those people who have to leave their homes, who have to leave their relatives behind.

I have more anger at the lack of humanity, at the lack of information in Europe.

World Refugee Day 2023


19/06/2023

 

Injustice knows no holidays.

 

Postcard from Lemnos island.

("We are swimming in the sea, the refugees are drowning."

"Enough! It's time to change migration politics in Greece and in the EU.")


16/06/2023

I remember my professor in dramatics who corrected me during a presentation and told me "never use the word tragedy outside of the context of theatre."

This happened 30 years ago (and I did not have any connection to Greece except the ancient theatre and its pieces), but I remember like yesterday.

Neither Tempe, the train collision, nor Pelos, nor anything that happened before - and that will for sure happen again.

These are no tragedies. Tragedies we are writing for theatre. This what is happening are crimes from people who are doing what they are doing for their good, for their power and for themselves. From people who don't know what humanity means.

 

Banner: made by me: "We are asking for humanity" | picture: during a demonstration yesterday, 15/06/23 in Thessaloniki


15/06/2023

There is this young man that I met 7,5 years ago in a camp in Munich. We became friends, kind of family, with him and another friend from the same town in Syria where they had to flee from due to the war.

Today was a rough day for humanity, for refugees and for us in Greece.

When I came home from the demonstration he sent me the picture of his certificate. He finished his studies today.

I am so so so so happy for him and can’t stop smiling now.


02/06/2023

 

I will never get used to the "no rice/tomatoes/flour...?" instead of "thank you".


25/05/2023

After seven years Europe still did not work on a solution. The Greek government worked - and will work - on fences and illegal „push-backs“ and inhumane conditions in camps and on difficulties in general for people on the flee.

 

Seven years ago police came before dawn to "evacuate" the 8500 people from Idomeni camp and to end a "humanitarian disaster", as they said.

Actually they evicted the camp and brought people in other camps and in a not ending humanitarian disaster. I remember that day like yesterday and that we knew that this was only the beginning.

 

I still see refugees every day when they come for food or clothes or anything they need for their daily life. I am so sick of it. For them, but also for us who are doing that work voluntarily since more than seven years while the European Union… well… let’s stop thinking about it. 

 

Picture: Idomeni camp, 20/05/2016 


24/03/2023

 

She wanted to register.

As she spoke English I explained her that there is no registration, that we are helping everyone, that we are volunteers and what we have is from donations, so we never know what we can give when she will come every two weeks.

Where she lives and with whom I asked her.

By her own. In a house by a program. “But when this program ends all the Ukrainian people don’t have houses anymore and have to go back to Ukraine”, she said. Yes, as so many refugees from so many war zones in the world before, who had to flee and had less support than Ukrainian refugees have.

“The war began 8 years ago”, she wanted to share with me “but we did not care because it was far away from my hometown”. She cannot know that I know about what happened during the last decade in Ukraine, but I agreed.

I am so sad for all the people who have to flee their places. I am so sad for the Ukrainian people who don’t identify themselves as refugees, who cannot accept that they are in the same situation as people from Afghanistan, Irak, Syria, Somalia, Kongo…. are.

There are no “better” refugees and I could be a refugee. We never know. What a mess with all these wars in the world…


31/01/2023

„No one is guilty.“ she said „Even an angel could not make it. No one is guilty, not the people who are seeking help, nor you. It is not not only about tiredness, about you don’t have the energy, it is in the nature of distributions that people are coming to take stuff, they are leaving, they don’t care about you“.

As we had different times it is difficult for me to accept it, but yes - I think these are wise words.

I will try to ignore during the next months the lack of „thank you“, of „good afternoon“ or all the indifference people are showing us every day. To ignore that they don’t respect the place nor us. That the majority only cares about themselves.

No one is guilty.

I felt bad that I had begun suddenly to speak about these bad feelings. I was thankful that we had this exchange of thoughts.


02/01/2023

Today I have been an archaeologists. I removed one layer after the other. 4 layers of labels for a box. Years of clothes (and other) distributions.

“They don’t see us”, I expressed my feelings when we had a little later a discussion how to proceed this year.

Since a while now we are thinking how and if to continue our distributions. People are coming like in a supermarket. They don’t see us. They just take what they can get and leave.

Do we want it this way? Is this solidarity?

 

Actually, I want to be seen. Not only because I am not payed for that, but also because this is my understanding of solidarity: that we recognise each other. Solidarity it isn’t a one way road.

 

Well. I took al labels off. Somehow it has been a liberating feeling.


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Texts and pictures 01-12/2022
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Texts and pictures 06-12/2021
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Texts and pictures 11/2020-05/2021
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Texts and pictures 01/2020 - 10/2020
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Texts and pictures 04/2019 - 12/2019
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Texts and pictures 06/2018 - 03/2019
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Texts and pictures 04/2018-06/ 2018
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Texts and pictures 11/2017 - 03/2018
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Texte und Bilder - Thessaloniki 08/2017 - 11/2017
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Texte und Bilder - Thessaloniki/ Munich 04/2017 - 07/2017
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Texte und Bilder - Thessaloniki 12/2016 - 04/2017
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Texte und Bilder - Munich / Thessaloniki 09/2015 - 12/2016
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