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In Greek Camp, Raindrops That Once Soothed Now Bring Sorrow

Madineh Zafari used to love walking in the rain. In an essay published in a Greek newspaper, the 17-year-old Afghan refugee describes how living in a refugee camp in Greece now makes her panic at the sound of raindrops.

Written by Madineh Zafari Published on Read time Approx. 2 minutes
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A boy stands holding an umbrella at a makeshift camp on the Greek-Macedonian border on March 23, 2016. AFP/ANDREJ ISAKOVIC

Lovers fall in love in the rain. Most people around the world appreciate the smell of rain and its feeling of freshness. Many like to walk in the rain and some like to watch it from behind their windows. I was a rain lover, too, before I came to this camp. I enjoyed walking in the rain. It gave me a sense of peace the way a melodic tune does, but nowadays rain annoys me. The sound of rain is harsh and doesn’t fill me with serenity anymore.

Up until a few months ago, we used to have tents in this camp. They were my only shelter in this world and I needed them to survive. I would pray that it would rain less and that my tent would not be destroyed. When it started to rain, the raindrops would hit my tent and the wind would shake it with such force that I thought it would collapse. The sound of the rain on the tent was so horrible that it scared me to death.

As the raindrops fell faster and faster, I would crumple up and press my knees to my arms, but the rain just kept falling. The water would drench the ground and seep into the tent from every corner. Whatever we did, we couldn’t protect ourselves from it. The tent was so cold and the only blanket that could save me from the cold was also wet. At that moment, there was nothing we could do. We could only wait with tears and sadness for the state we were in.

I remember those days so clearly. As soon as the rain stopped, everybody would begin to try to clear up the mess. Outside the tent and all around there was water and mud. It was hard even to walk on the ground, but everybody was rushing to fix their wet tent. Some people would stand looking hopeless, their eyes full of distress, without knowing what to do because the storm had destroyed their tent.

We had the same problem every time the rain started and stopped. The humanitarian organizations and the camp’s officials tried to help and do something but everything was useless and sometimes they made it even worse. They gave us plastic covers to place over our tents but they forgot that water flows along the ground and finds its way inside.

My family and I and everyone else in the camp would all feel alarmed and anxious when it started to rain and you could see the panic in people’s faces. Since then, rain always brings sorrow and pain to our hearts.

This essay is from a newspaper called “Migratory Birds” written by 15 teenage Afghan girls who have spent the past year living in Schisto refugee camp in Greece. “Migratory Birds” was produced by Diktio (Network for Children’s Rights) with the support of Save the Children and published in Greece’s Efsyn newspaper on April 14. Read more about the initiative in the editorial “Life Through the Eyes of a Teenage Girl”. It is also available in Greek and Farsi.

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