It’s amazing how much the weather affects everything, isn’t it? The snow and ice has gone for now. The sunny days are beautiful, temperatures reach the teens and we can walk in just t-shirts. The nights are still freezing though. As soon as it gets dark, temperatures plummet below zero again.
The warmer weather brings different challenges, the van slips in mud instead of ice as we drive up dirt roads to replenish the water stations. The water is used more quickly by those living in tents or broken buildings now that there’s no snow to melt.
I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned the showers! Another organisation invented portable showers. The boiler, which runs on a gas bottle, is mounted onto a crate with straps - meaning it can be worn like a backpack to transport it to remote locations. We bring a camping shower surround and plenty of water, and the guys can shower for as long as they like. This is a service we could never have dreamed of offering last year. Showers take a while, leaving the van and volunteers standing around in fields for hours, visible to authorities. Most of the work we do is criminalised (due to complex Bosnian law) but both police and locals mind far less than they did last year.
The improved conditions for people here are the subject of many conversations with journalists, other organisations and donors. But the other day, as I was standing around while a couple of people were showering, the reality of the situation hit me once again.
Yes, a shower is better than no shower, but it’s still outside, there’s limited privacy, and the experience of relying on volunteers to bring you the opportunity is degrading.
In every sad story there are elements of happiness. I took this report of a violent pushback. The young man from Afghanistan urgently needed dental treatment and whilst we were waiting for the appointment, we were chatting. The details of his most recent illegal deportation came up. Please read the report. It gives in insight into the every-day conditions people here are facing.
Despite improving conditions, the EU is still responsible for illegal acts. But as you read it, you can think of this guy eating a croissant for breakfast, he’s in France. He has new challenges now, but the violence of the Croatian authorities isn’t one of them, and for that I can breathe a sigh of relief.
An outdoor shower is better than no shower, to support our continued work here, donate to No Name Kitchen via this link. Comment of support and encouragement are always welcome!