Coffee & tea stand Heumensoord · Solidarity & Protest · Stories from the camp

3000 people, one camp, 8 people in one bunk bed room. Outside it’s rainy and cold. What would you do?

_DSF2087On a foggy day like these, when you go outside and want to crawl back into your house instantly, I think of a day at the camp on the 18th of october. We went to set up our coffee and tea stand in Heumensoord. Do you remember? It was when we had those really stormy nights. As always we met friendly people. However, it is not only nice in the camp and our friends are in a very challenging position. Kept in a forest, away from civilization, together with so many strangers, mixed up all together.

The first thing we see when we enter the road to the camp is a man who climbed up an electricity pole.

He’s upset. A problematic private issue that reflects the dispair in the air.

The atmosphere is boiling up. Simmering. What happens if you put 3000 people in the forest? No work, nothing to do with all that free time. At first I imagine you rest after the long trip you have just had. Happy to be alive.

And then? What kind of situation is this, I wonder, when you’re put on hold: it might take half a year until your procedure starts they tell you. You want to start a life, get some stability to support the ones you had to leave behind in a country in war that is everything but stable. The first people get ill with the wet weather and so many people in one place: One can imagine how the flue spreads. I’m thinking about how much creativity it takes to make the best out of such a situation. How much energy to stay positive. But then a storm hits your tent, hits it until it shakes and things fall down, babies cry, people roam the floors, fear, unrest and desperation is in the air.

How much can one take? “We’re not animals” says a woman from Syria with a friendly smile outside on the way to me. Next second she cries in my arms. We had never met before.

I have met many people in Heumensoord who are strikingly positive. Whom I admire for their strength and spirit. But there are also the ones who do not have the strength to go outside and socialize or to ask for help when they are in need.

And as a matter of fact, conditions in Heumensoord are not good. One maybe can stand it, make the most of it, be positive. But it is not a humane place, it really is not. And that is not because of the helping hands around it. It is because of the way the camp is set up and designed. Poor medical attention, poor information about procedures and no privacy are sad facts.

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