This past weekend a mother came to the NPI feeding tent in Sindos. She has a child under two years, but this time she wasn’t coming for diapers, nutritional support, or breastfeeding advice. The mother came to our tent because she needed comfort and someone to listen. This day, the mother wanted a safe place where she could express her heartbreak of the injustice that has befallen her family, her hometown, her country. We did the best we could to offer her hugs and words of compassion as she showed photos of her recently annihilated neighborhood. She and her family have been waiting in Greece for 6 months, and now she has nowhere she can call home.
At NPI we face situations like this every day and find ourselves constantly apologizing for the apathy of the international community. The emotional aspect of the work we do isn’t easy, but we can find solace in the fact that at the very least, the women we serve trust us enough to seek us out when they need personal advice, emotional support, or a shoulder to cry on.
Children, too, come to us as a source of distraction from the monotony of life at a refugee camp. Yesterday when there was a lull in the Baby Hammam traffic at the Kalochori camp, children came with sidewalk chalk and makeshift jump-ropes ready to have fun. Whether they eagerly offer to help us or make every effort to play games when we have a spare moment, it’s clear that NPI is the preferred source of entertainment for these children.
NPI’s role at these refugee camps extends far beyond the provision of infant feeding services, and this has a lot to do with the high-caliber staff and volunteers. In only two weeks here, I have met so many incredible women, and I’m confident that this is what makes for such camaraderie both among ourselves and the among the families we are trying to help.