Lesbos Island, Greece – January 2016
This is part six of a journal I’m keeping during my month working at a refugee camp in Greece. Part five, covering working at a distribution tent and finding a full-time translation job, is here.
Today was my first full day as a Farsi interpreter at a medical clinic at Camp Moria, Lesbos Island’s biggest refugee camp. Afghans or Iranians who speak clear English are a rarity on the island, so I’ve handled a handful of different translation jobs. They all left me feeling meh
. The medical clinic was different though. Working with needy people, avoiding egos, and having a uniquely needed skill set were all improvements over my previous jobs. Working in a warm building with the majority of the cute volunteers on the island was a nice bonus as well.
Working at the medical clinic finally felt like my calling.
Most of the cases today were fevers and colds. It was a good way to ease into a language that I studied 10 years ago and haven’t used again until a week ago. Hot, cold, fever, cough, and vomit were the most common words. I had prepared a long list of medical terms over the weekend and was very grateful that I didn’t have to consult it often today.
One of the rafts had hit a rock near the shore and popped that morning, leading to everyone on the raft walking the last 20 feet to the shore. While there were no drownings or hypothermia from it, one particular injury kept popping up.
"Please stop making me laugh about people getting sea urchins stuck in their feet," I giggled to S, a doctor from a medical team from Vermont. He wasn’t trying
to make me laugh. He wasn’t trying not to either. I was fortunately able to hold it in while around patients.
Sobriety came quickly as a visibly pregnant woman came into the clinic. She wore tears on her cheek and her hands on her stomach. She had fallen out of the raft and crashed into a rock, stomach first. She was panicked that her baby was hurt and told us repeatedly that she was 8.5 months pregnant. It was a big relief for everybody when we found that she had “only” broken a rib. The baby would be fine.