And He Danced Again.

I welcomed 2020 at the Kara Tepe Refugee Camp in Moria, on the island of Lesbos, in Greece, within eye’s sight of Turkey. I was in a yurt with other volunteers from Movement on the Ground, and with residents of the Camp. I remembered the previous New Year’s Eve, when I had joined volunteers and residents at Kara Tepe to cook a makeshift soup. I remembered a young man who danced in the cramped kitchen with his friends, and danced later in the yurt as the New Year arrived. He lit up both the kitchen and the yurt with his dance, and with his smile.

As I thought of him this year, I wondered, “Was he one of the lucky ones, now somewhere in Europe building a new life? “

He wasn’t.

I saw him, just quickly, out of the corner of my eye, but then he was gone. I wondered if the past year had taken dance from him, along with his smile. About thirty minutes later, he was back in the yurt, walking through the crowd, not dancing, and with only half a smile.

Then I lost sight of him again.

Soon, the music beat changed. I looked up to the disc jockey, and there he was, above the crowd, next to the disc jockey, gesturing for different music.

New music thumped, and he stepped down into the crowd. And he danced again. And he smiled again. And he lit up the yurt, again.

For most, a year in a refugee camp would be enough to dull the desire to dance, enough to steal smiles, enough to peel away the promise of a new year.

But not for him.

Welcome to the New Year! Kara Tepe 2019/2020

I knew still, as I did last year, that the New Year’s celebration would give way to the cold of the night and the rain of the next days. I knew that he and the other residents of Kara Tepe, Moria, and the Olive Grove would face such incredible uncertainties, that his resiliency, that their resiliency and spirit, would again be tested.

But that night, again, he danced. And he smiled.

The group I volunteered with is Movement on the Ground. It is doing incredible work in improving the conditions in the Olive Grove outside Moria Camp, and in recognizing the dignity of all. You can learn about them by following this link. Now, more than ever, the residents of Moria Refugee Camp need help. If you wish to help, you may do so here.

If you are willing to watch, read, and listen some more, I am willing to share, and then perhaps together we can make a difference. Thanks!

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