“Now we can understand the anguish of people whose lives changed violently”- Some thoughts on Covid-19

Giorgos Moutafis for SolidarityNow

by Dimitris Bakas*,

lawyer, SolidarityNow, Thiva open Accommodation Center

It’s been a year since I’ve joined SolidarityNow. I am a lawyer and member of the team working at Thiva open Accommodation Center. Within this one year, I had the chance to meet great colleagues and beneficiaries, with whom we spent many hours together. I developed a special relationship with everyone. This year was special for me not only professionally but personally as well.

After 15 years as a lawyer and now working in the humanitarian field with people who have fled from their countries, I have realized that every single information, a simple phone call or just filling out an application, can be more useful than anything else. In the past, I’ve gained satisfaction out of my job, but through this experience I feel joy by helping people in need, by providing my support. In the future, these people, might talk about us in their stories, like somebody who has helped them to pursuit a better life.

Given our everyday life, it is difficult to understand 100% how a person is living at a refugee camp with many restrictions. COVID-19 appeared out of the blue and changed everything. Schools closed, a curfew was imposed, we lost our everyday communication with relatives, friends and colleagues and we are stressed about whether we will receive proper medical care. Besides that, thousands of workers are waiting for the state’s announcements about the special allowance. We are at a “war” with an invisible enemy.

Hundreds of Greeks abroad want to return back to their country, but many borders closed down and many remain trapped in airports, for at least a few days. Many people in Greece left the big cities and traveled to the countryside. And while many demand the lockdown of refugees and migrants at the refugee camps, at the same time, they run off to the beaches.

Suddenly, all these become familiar to us. Maybe now we can understand the anguish of people whose lives changed violently. Maybe now we feel their desire to be in a safe environment, to reunite with their family members, to have acess to medical care and education.

Now it’s important to stay safe and continue to do our work.


* Dimitris Bakas works as a lawyer at the “Child & Family Safe Hubs” program, which is implemented by SolidarityNow with the support of UNICEF and IOM and funded by the European Commission.