The amount of conflict, tragedy, and misplaced peoples around the world is staggering. War, religious disputes, famines, and economic instability rule many countries and cultures.
In our few locations in Europe, we get to hear the hearts of people and learn about their lives as they lived through these tragedies. As of September 2022, there are approximately 26 nationalities in Mavrovouni Camp on the island of Lesvos, Greece.
In this article, we’ll be covering a few of those largely represented countries.
You’ve heard so much about it. News articles about this country don’t grab your attention like they used to. They seem to repeat themselves: politics, war, civilians caught in the crossfire, and refugees.
The only reason nothing seems to change is because it's true. Not much has changed in the past few decades for Afghanistan. Internal conflict is normal: uncertainty and confusion, subjection and poverty. There is no peace. To say the future is unsure is an understatement; nobody knows what will happen next.
There were brief glimpses of peace, but all was broken again on August 15, 2021, as the Taliban regained control of the country.
It’s no wonder the people want to leave, and the numbers of Afghans are high in the camp. Why would they not risk their lives to search for freedom elsewhere?
Many Afghan refugees have been relocated to the States. Learn more about it below!
“Eritrea is one of the most repressive countries on earth. It is widely referred to as “the North Korea of Africa ”– due to the government’s enslavement, torture and murder of its own people, even as they suffer from malnourishment and economic destitution.” eritreanrefugees.org
Thousands of Eritreans are internally displaced or have fled their country.
“Those who flee the country along dangerous routes are vulnerable to human trafficking and other forms of exploitation. Most migrants resort to smuggling to exit the country, and often do so at night due to the risks of death or imprisonment.” Migrants & Refugees
One refugee said, ‘I came here for life and peace. Everybody came here for life and peace...in Somalia, there is no peace.'
One of my Somalian friends came here with hopes of eventually going back to her country. She would like to get medical help in Europe. Help that she cannot get in her own country and, from what I understand, she really misses her family and friends, the warm weather, and the beach and someday wants to return.
Another friend says she has nothing to go back to. She lost most of her family and has little or no friends there. She grew up in a family who lived a nomadic lifestyle, going from place to place, caring for sheep, and building their own homes. They had very little. When things happened to the family, she felt she and her son needed to flee the country and seek medical help for him. He didn't live much longer. She is now alone and does not know where the few family members are that are left in the country.
However, some Somalians still have family in their own country and miss these family members. Many do not plan to return to their country unless things change. One friend said, 'If there is peace there again, maybe I would want to go back.’ They seem to have enjoyed the climate there. But still, it was not safe for them to stay.
In Europe, they feel that there is peace. They are hopeful about the opportunity for better jobs or better medical help. They feel safer here and hope they can start a new life away from painful past experiences.”
According to the UNHCR, many Somalians are leaving their country due to civil war and the drought in their land.
“Sierra Leone, a small country on the coast of West Africa, is famous for its beautiful white beaches. However, the country holds dark and painful secrets that profoundly impact its people, forcing many of them to flee.
Sierra Leone was a British Colony until the 1960s, partially populated by returned slaves from Britain. In 1991, the country saw a brutal civil war that lasted eleven years. During this time, many children were forced to fight as child soldiers.
Additionally, around 88% of women in Sierra Leone have experienced female genital mutation (FGM). This is sometimes performed on children as young as two years old. If the child is not strong enough to survive, they die.
Recently, there has been an increase in new arrivals from Sierra Leone on Lesvos. Many have fled rather than be forced into secret societies, escaping with their lives but with scarred bodies and minds.
However, these are incredibly resilient people. Since the national language of Sierra Leone is English, it is easier for us Americans to build relationships and form good connections with Sierra Leoneans. They love cooking, dancing, and cracking jokes. They reminisce about the strong people, the plentiful tropical fruit, the warm weather, and the open-air markets of their home country.
For most of them, the main thing they are seeking in Europe is safety and peace.”
The countries above make up the majority of Mavrovouni Camp, but there are several people representing many other countries in Africa and the Middle East, and even some from Haiti. There are far too many stories and histories to include in one post.
Please join us in prayer for those still trapped in the harmful environments they may be experiencing in their countries and for those waiting on the long processes of asylum in Europe.
There are many opportunities to volunteer with i58– for both individuals and families. Learn more about the volunteering process here: Volunteering with Us
Ready to sign up as a volunteer right now? Visit our website and fill out an application