A Tale of Two Winter Mornings

By Tamara Fox

Most mornings, my alarm goes off around 7:30 am. Often, I hit snooze a couple of times and get up when I feel more ready to start the day.

 

I then roll out of bed and venture into the bathroom to have a shower. When I switch on the water, I’m often met with a cold blast of water that bolts out of the shower head, so I turn the dial up to make sure the water is extra hot. I fill my hands up with a plentiful amount of soap and scrub my body clean to feel fresh for the day. Once I’m done, I head into my bedroom and open my cupboard to choose an outfit. As it’s winter, I often reach for a chunky knit jumper to keep warm and cosy. After I get dressed, I head to the kitchen to fix myself some coffee and a bowl of cereal.

My morning routine is fairly mundane. There’s nothing significant to it. But, it’s stress-free, and one that is emphatically characterised by ease, comfort and convenience.

However, mornings for thousands of refugees and asylum seekers in the Aegean Islands are strikingly different, especially during winter time. 

For those living in the camps, mornings are compounded by shoddy living conditions, a paucity of showers and toilets and a lack of access to sanitised water and food. What’s worse is that winter months only serve to exacerbate these problems, importing bitter winter chills and unpredictable heavy downpours. Put simply, the vicissitudes of seasons make harsh winter mornings a struggle for thousands of refugees and asylum seekers.  

During my time volunteering in Samos,(read my story here) I met many incredibly resilient people who made the difficult decision to flee endless conflict and make the perilous journeys to Europe. When I arrived in mid-November, I was alerted that there were around 6,500 people living in a camp site that had a capacity of 650 people. Fast-forward to now, the number of people living in that extremely overcrowded space has inflated to 7,553 (Aegean Boat Report, 2020).

At present, the overall situation on the Greek Islands is bleak. There are currently 42,001 refugees living in makeshift houses and tents across the islands, 21,322 of whom are being housed in Lesvos, 6,117 in Chios and 2,702 in Leros (Aegean Boat Report, 2020). The stark reality is that while new arrivals continue to arrive in droves in hope of a better future, the living conditions continue to deteriorate during winter. Whilst the Greek government, the EU and grassroots organisations persevere to keep people alive and well, there isn’t enough shelter, resources are being stretched and many continue to live in despair. 

However, there is time to take action and to make a difference this winter. Indigo are making an urgent appeal to you for further support in Greece. You have an opportunity to change up your morning routine, volunteer and help make a positive difference. Indigo works alongside a diverse number of response teams, and provides a wide spectrum of volunteering opportunities, from warehouse work, to teaching, to providing medical assistance to cooking and so forth. There is something for everyone!

If you have any spare time this February, apply to volunteer and you can have an invaluable impact in bettering individual worlds. If you are unable to do so, visit our website to find other ways to take action like donating to support our efforts!