It’s morning in the camp. Humanity Crew, an organization of translators, comes by to pick up a vanload of Pikpa residents to take them to Moria detention center for the day. They are going for interviews and to fill out paperwork related to appeals for asylum or relocation. One woman approaches, asking if they can take her to the hospital. She has an appointment to have stitches removed from her bandaged hand. Other men and women have gathered under the pavilion to wait for the daily food distribution to begin. A tween-age girl from the Congo is slouching in a plastic chair with her hands over her eyes near to where I am watering one of the two communal gardens. I am trying to determine where to place the hose for the most effective irrigation.
This is Pikpa, an oasis in the desert of Fortress Europe. It is an open camp for refugees run by our partners, the nonprofit Lesvos Solidarity Network (formerly, Village of All Together). It is a safe and humane camp, standing in stark contrast to the detention centers operated by European security forces and the Greek military. On Lesvos, these are Moria, housing (imprisoning really) about 3,000 refugees, and Kara Tepe, with about 700 refugees. At Pikpa currently, eighty-nine residents (out of a capacity for 100) live in wooden cabins and canvas tents under the shade of tall pines. They have access to fresh produce and other wholesome food, clothing, medical aid, clean lavatories, language classes, and kindergarten for their children. Pikpa serves the most vulnerable: the disabled, sick, pregnant, and families of shipwreck victims.