Yet still I try
In January 2016, I accompanied a group of Syrian refugees from the time they arrived at the port of Piraeus, near Athens; to the moment they finally crossed the Greek - Macedonian border.
A trip with a bus from Athens to the Greek - Macedonian border normally lasts 8 to 9 hours. However, due to the increased number of refugees and migrants, waiting to cross the Greek - Macedonian border, Greek police stopped the buses at various parts of the route, for an unknown period of time, resulted in what was going to be a few hours’ trip to a three days’ journey to endurance.
“The moment of the arrival at the port of Piraeus: the newly arrived, shortly before they set foot on the “new land”, ready to cross the invisible line between before and after, facing a vague, but also ominous future.”
Once the hatch of the ship came down, refugees and migrants with their belongings on their shoulders and their children tagged on them, started to came out and at a fast pace they headed towards the buses. After having bought their ticket, it’s time to start the long journey to the north. Just outside Attica and the first stop for rest. It’s mid-January and one of the Winter’s snowing days.
Due to the snow, the main highway was closed and the driver had to find alternatives. We took the country road, which happens to be the longest one. At the rest stops, the children found the opportunity to play with the snow while others took this time to pray.
Sahid, 12-year-old (R), plays with the snow along with her friend Yezen, 9 (L), during a small brake while on their way with a bus from Athens to Idomeni village at the Greek – North Macedonian border. Sahid is daughter of Bisam, a 42-year-old Syrian from Damascus that left his country with his family to go to Germany and reunite with his daughter Sahir, 15.
Meram 4-year-old, is sleeping on her mother’s legs, while on a bus that will drive her family and others from Athens to Idomeni village at the Greek – North Macedonian border. Meram is daughter of Bisam, a 42-year-old Syrian from Damascus that left his country with his family to go to Germany and reunite with his daughter Sahir, 15.
Due to overcrowding in Idomeni, police forces the bus drivers to stay overnight at highway rest areas. Although the temperature is around 0°C, the drivers refused to let the people sleep inside the buses. As a result, some people slept on the floors and chairs of the restaurant at the rest stop and those who did not have found space, sleeping outside was the only option.
Arriving in Idomeni, I would say that the process is "mechanized". Checking of the papers, something to eat, waiting, sometimes waiting a bit longer and finally the coveted moment of crossing the border. Checking the papers again and then you see them getting lost along the railroad living bad memories behind.