Samos - January 11, 2016
My last day in Samos was bittersweet. I was feeling the pull to return home to my family but also the urge to stay and do whatever I could to relieve the suffering I saw.
The clinic does not open until 2pm and no new arrivals had journeyed over and therefor no extra help was needed at the camp. Linea and I took a tour around the island to explore and find our bearings. It was educational to see where we are, where Turkey is (just across a small expanse of water on one end, and quite far on the other), and understand how and why it is so difficult to assist people who land on Samos. The north end of the island is vast and comprises of rocky beaches next to steep cliffs and paths. Unless a boat arrives in the daytime and is clearly visible it would be difficult to know anyone is there on many of the beaches. The far northeast corner did not have accessible roads to explore and consists of a peninsula - another barrier to easy visibility and rescue.
When the clinic opened people started trickling in and was in full swing by 5pm. It was not as busy as the day before, but it seems the conditions being treated were more serious and time consuming. Once again the need for my services was clear: the woman who miscarried 3 days before in a tent in Turkey, infections, prenatal exams, lots of kisses given in thanks...I gave one woman who was due a safe birth kit in case she was en route to her next destination when she goes into labor. I shudder to think of what she will experience and hope she will at least be in a place where a medical facility is available. It is more frustrating because I will never know what happens.
At least everyone was dry. It was also a night a ferry was leaving for Athens so there was excitement in the air as everyone was wishing those on their way safe travels and patiently awaited their turn.
The stark difference between the day before - cold, wet, hungry, traumatized, exhausted. And today - dry, fed, restful, and determined was amazing. It was an entirely different camp. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, children were playing with whatever they could find - it seemed more of a community than an encampment. As night fell a group of men circled up and started dancing and singing and after a game of football and lots of laughing and cheering.
What did I learn on this trip? That we are all one people. The culture differences were not nearly as stark as I had been expecting and we are more similar than different. That people are strong. That people are soft and love is universal. That those fleeing and those helping both have much to offer.
I leave this blog with my favorite memory of that day, and possibly of my whole trip. I think because it was a memory of hope and happiness. One couple arrived to the clinic with complaints from the wife that probably was a urinary tract infection. In speaking with them they told me they were just married and left Syria the next day after their wedding. After more history was taken I ran some tests and we discovered she is carrying their first child. It was a moment of rejoicing and then of course the disbelief as they tried to imagine a new life and all the changes it would bring - something I remember well from my own experiences. It is a wondrous circle and I wish this child a life of peace and joy knowing his/her parents are doing their best to ensure just that. To Life! Insha'Allah!