Soap Bubbles

When we arrived at the camp at midnight, there were almost no refugees around and the situation seemed quite tense. We took over a few additional security measures from the outgoing team. At the same time, the area had been cleaned up and looked way better than the day before.

Volunteers discussing how to proceed now in front of UNHCR tents

Volunteers discussing how to proceed now in front of UNHCR tents. (Röszke 14/09/2015)

As a sharp wind was blowing, I started to check the tents. At the internet tent, a lady asked me to help her finding new shoes, as she had not been able to get some from UNHCR. So I took her to the material stocks and found good sneakers she could walk with after a long search. She was so happy about a pair of second hand shoes, could not stop thanking me and hugged me before going her way.

It was about three when, at the bus stop, somebody asked us to help waking up people in the tents to tell them to get onto the busses now. They would be brought to the train station, where they would take a train straight to the Austrian border without registration. We took it as good news, as that is what most refugees arriving here want: reach western Europe. As hard as it was to wake up families and children in the middle of the night, their reaction was more than positive when they realised what this was about. So many of them thanked us and wished us God's blessings.

The boarding went quite smoothly and within one hour, the camp was completely empty of refugees. A weird ambiance reigned among the remaining staffs, the unspoken question of what are we here for now was almost palpable. Staffs and police officers joined our tent for tea and coffee, hanging out waiting for what was going to happen next.

Policemen come for tea and coffee

Policemen come for tea and coffee, as all are wondering what will happen next. (Röszke 14/09/2015)

As soon as daylight made its first appearance, people started arriving again, in larger numbers than I had seen before. About one hundred refugees reached the camp every ten minutes. So part of the team moved to the bus stop, taking pictures, filming, informing people about the situation and distributing food and water before they would board the busses.

My colleagues give out sandwiches and water

My colleagues giving out sandwiches and water to people before they board the busses. (Röszke 14/09/2015)

The incoming flow of people would not stop, and they looked more exhausted than they had looked before. We walked to the border, giving people the news, and most of them hardly believed us. They would be able to travel several hundred kilometres without walking. Some men asked us how much it costs, and when we answered it was for free, they started running to be sure they would find a place in the busses.

At the fence, we found numerous armed policemen and troops, including Humvees with mounted machine guns directed towards Serbia. But they would just stand there and do nothing to prevent people from entering Hungary. Press was massively present too, as well as UNHCR people. Apart from latter ones, nobody would greet or address the refugees. So I stood next to the journalists and started greeting the passers-by, who looked at me quite surprised somebody would acknowledge them as human beings. And press would look at me estranged, as if it was bizarre to talk to these people.

Troops gathering at the gate

Troops gather at the gate, not yet preventing people from crossing the border. (Röszke 14/09/2015)

At the moment we decided to walk back to the camp, we heard a family was sitting on the Serbian side of the gate who had lost a five-year old. So we hurried towards the camp and found the little boy, dressed in grey pajamas and a morning gown, wearing only one sandal and his other foot bandaged. He was accompanied by three adults, and representatives of a local NGOs with a car. The child was just sitting on the ground, and one of his accompaniers explained that his family was walking quite slowly, chatting a lot and not helping the mother carrying the boy. So he took the child and walked quickly, as he was heavy. That is how they lost each other. The little boy started crying, and one of the men took him in his arms, hurrying back to the gate. As the rest of the team was waiting for us, we decided to continue on our way.

We walked with a group of people with children, one of them crying too. I took my usual soap bubbles out of my pocket and started blowing. The child stopped crying, and watched the bubbles flying in the wind. His bigger sister enjoyed them a lot, and I kept walking with her for a while, giving her a moment of oblivion. Her family enjoyed seeing her happy too.

Not much needed to make a child, and her father, smile.

Not much needed to make a child, and her father, smile. (Röszke 14/09/2015)

By the time we reached the camp, day shift team had arrived. After the handover, instead of driving straight back to our base camp in town, we stopped at Röszke train station, to see if people were really taking the train. Indeed, there were several busses and people boarding the train. We walked along the windows, helping distributing water, diapers and baby food. People were waving and laughing, and many also asked what was happening to them now, where the train would bring them too. The ambience was cheerful, and children were again enjoying my soapy passtime.

Only two nights, but it feels like we have been a team forever, having much fun together, especially on the way back to the base camp. Laughing is a good way to deal with such perturbing stories and situations we experience in the refugee camp. To celebrate the good news, there is nothing better than a beer or two after breakfast. So, you may excuse my writing.

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