Posted in: 2018, lived experiences of other people

Clothes and shoes

Als ich zum ersten mal nach Samos kam
no NGOs with clothes
were there not yet

People kept on arriving a friend
said: why not organise
something ourselves? We found someone on Lesvos
a donations warehouse feeding into Moria
Kara Tepe Pikpa and where else needed
soon the ferry dropped off five pallets on the quai of Vathy
compressed clothes in all sizes
and shoes which over several

runs we smuggled
into a container in the upper clinic

It wasn’t illegal or
maybe it was but
no one
wanted refugees on Samos
no more refugees on Samos
there were enough refugees on Samos it wouldn’t have
increased our popularity they might have deported us too from the island and I
was here to work as a doctor

in the evening having finished our work
in the upper clinic
(we ran a lower in town and
an upper right outside the barbed wire fence ’round the camp)
in the evening we
distributed clothes and shoes
shoes are popular many flee without their shoes
they end up in flipflops through deserts and rivers
how I just don’t know

When people came to the lower clinic to
find help with all things physical we asked:
do you know of anyone needing anything and
soon we had
half a meter list of numbers to call inside
the camp when we had things to give
then we packed a bag
filled with wishes and handed it over shrouded
in darkness on the back streets of Vathy
crossing several personal boundaries by that alone

One day a thin
thin guy came to the clinic he had
just walked ashore the previous day he only owned what he wore
had most likely experienced all things un-tellable
we never ask
I only know he was a teacher

Following the day’s work I packed
a bag of shoes in his size underwear socks trousers t-shirts
a sweater everything
a man needs
and over the following weeks he sought out both
the upper and the lower clinic
always wearing the sweater select

I was on Samos for fourteen months
the first time round
from time to time I met him on the street
visibly he was becoming stronger 
and stronger while waiting for the asylum reply
he is the kind of person who cannot sit still
always assisting
doing translations
simply helping
where ever he could

When I returned
following Corona
one night I met him on the street in town
he was doing paid translations for one of the big NGOs on the island
he has an apartment has friends chooses life on Samos
feeding cats inside and out has a flatmate
but the very first thing he said
as he stood in front of me was:
I still have the sweater you gave me

There was nothing special about that sweater
the cost might have been all of five Euro




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