Highlights: Visiting two hotels in the industrial area surrounding the Thessaloniki airport which are housing vulnerable people formerly in Nea Kavala camp.
Hotel 1: The “Four Seasons”. Grubby, small rooms, sticky floors and kids playing in the car park. Far from all amenities, children who formerly went to school in town now have only English lessons and outings. Food is OK, provided by the hotel but over salted and greasy. Rooms are cramped, the kind of place that you would be happy to stay in for one night and then leave.
Hotel 2: The “Athena Palace” Hotel. Isolated, the shop on the outskirts of town is a ten minute bus ride. Cleaner, more spacious and more modern. The atmosphere in the dining room was one of dejection, of fulfilling an obligation. This is in stark contrast to meals that we have been invited to in refugees homes, which are meals of beauty and grace. While the circumstances out side of the meal are not much different, refugees in their own apartments are able to feel much more “at home” simply by being able to cook.
Obviously we weren’t there to just sit and chat, many moms and babies were seen. We will be returning in the coming days and promise more on them later.
From the hotels, Sally came to the Thessaloniki airport to pick up Kimberly, just off of a long plane ride from Canada, and then back to our apartment in Nea Kavala for some much needed rest.
Our evening ended by exchanging messages with a family that we have pledged to sponsor. They decided to attempt the Balkan route, on which all the borders are closed to refugees, but got stuck overwintering in a tent. We are waiting for pregnant mom, dad and their two sons to make the return journey and hope they are successful. Their morale is currently very low and it was a sad end to the day. The father messaged us:
” If I didn’t have two sons I would killed myself. I have lost everything and my son is asking me father why we always coming and walking in the forest”