When the dark clouds evaporate!
My second night in the Brussels Refugee Camp can be explained with one word: Clarity! The clouds of the first night evaporated and the sky became clearer. I spend my night shift with Jurgen, a doctor from Vilvoorde and Mimi a nurse with a lot of experience.
Toilets and the Weather
We had a lot of patients. The problem is the change of weather all of a sudden. Tonight it cooled down a lot and during the day as it was raining. So a lot of Viruses, also I noticed the hygiene in the camp is really bad, mostly for the males. Never been to Syria or Iraq, so I don't know if they have french toilets there, but a sign for the males to explain them how to use decently a toilet wouldn't be bad. I also noticed some don't understand why there is toilet paper in the toilets, yes to clean the toilet, but not to sit on the paper with which you just cleaned the toilet. And also the custom of putting paper in the garbage bin and not in the toilet is something that is new for the refugees. But yeah who am I, I am the one who made every toilet in the small tube world go stuck with my toilet paper. Because this habit of toilet paper is really a habit that gives a lot of frustration to unlearn. You just don't want to think when you are on the toilet. This is different for women, with their menstruation and sensibility to have urinary infections, they are more conscious of their genital system. Its also evolutionary, because women need to carry babies, so the genital system is more consciously protected against diseases. Its maybe a cheap explanation, but for me it works to explain why women's toilets are more clean in the refugee camp, not that I did a reality check! Its also possible there are no women. At night I don't see women, never translated for a female patient. So probably there are non in the camp...
Some field clinic affairs
I am always finding more pleasure in being a medical translator. Its far from perfect, I still don't know what the word for rotater cuff is. What I do know is that in the Camp I am not attracting any women, which is good since I have a girlfriend. The people I really attract are the solitary refugees, single male patients. Who want to come for a talk, the consultation always gets 'interrupted' because these people want to do their story about their past life in Syria or Iraq. One Iraqi guy told me he was a wealthy single man in Baghdad. He got in trouble with the intelligence service because they didn't like him, he told me. When he was in jail he got tortured and he showed me his scars; electroshocks, water bording, breaking nails and whipping are not strange to the intelligence service. He bailed him out for 90.000 euros. The man was so happy he could talk to somebody. We had a Moroccan guy who just asked us for some paracetamol, he didn't want to come in. So with some convincing he got in, but he was totally confused. We referred him to psychiatry and searched a steward who could keep an eye on him during the night. The steward told me that there are 50 homeless people from Brussels living in the camp. Which is a problem for him, but not for doctors of the world, because we treat everybody. Everybody is welcome at our field clinic.
My Flemish Sarcasm
The morning was a bit disturbing, I was high on caffeine, so I started to talk a lot... The traditional happening of my life is that I then start to annoy the people who just woke up. They are all tired, because they are there to find meaning besides their nine to five job. Which is quite honorful they have a decent job to be able to live a life with some luxury, a house and a garden. Hey, give me a break I am taking again on these people, but they just make my life miserable always with their poker face when they get out of Brussels North station like a herd. Hell give me a chance to take revenge on the people on these paved ways... Its my life!
Politics vs Humanitarianism
One thing is clear for me there are two tendencies in the camp. The political and the humanitarian. The political is an attempt to get a general regularisation of all the refugees and immigrants in Belgium. And also one to organise the refugees to advocate in the public for the conflict in Syrian. The other are the humanitarians, like me, who stay neutral and live on their Island and don't understand a thing about what is happening there.
I can say honestly that I am only in there to practice medical arabic considering the social issues. I don't want to take more out of there.
The paradox of the cold weather
The rain makes that the camp is becoming really muddy, but the refugees are used to this. They have been living for a few years now in tents except the city refugees. So for them its not even a problem that its cold, because in Syria and the bordering countries there is also a strong winter. And for a strange reason or an other the Iraqi refugees like as much blond haired women as they like the cold. So they walk around like its summer. I always have to explain them they become sick if they don't dress up well. Or is this also stupid? Its like you have to drink a lot in the dessert as a western man or Lawrence of Arabia, we are not camels... And yes the Lions in Belgium also get a cold in the winter....
Getting out of the camp in two steps
Getting out of the camp was easier then yesterday, back in the world where I am nothing, the lowest level in the charity factory and media landscape. Now also in the translating business. But hell I crossed a friend from the Boy Scouts who works for the office of the foreigners. He did for a long time the repatriations for Belgium. Now he does the legal work. We talked professionally because then we have a conversation. It made me think about division of information and about this blog. The thing is that I am now spreading internal communication externally fully open for everybody. Everything that happens and I think is published on the blog and its open to everybody. So I am completely naked and people can use this against me and the camp. Because the camp may not exist for a lot of stakeholders its has to be destructed as soon as possible... Although the refugees are having fun here, they are all smiling dreaming about the blond volunteers... Maybe its only during the night. Its maybe not my work to think about that, but there are a lot of people who are building their careers on these people. I would call them fake humanitarians or politicalise... Like the soldiers from yesterday, tonight their was a fight, which we think was externally promoted and the police came with 20 people because the police was tipped. Maybe it was I who did this with my request on facebook last night. I don't know. Most of the sugared soldiers quit after that, because they became afraid. They can give their life for a cause, but when the official people come who do that for real, they are afraid. Apparently there are legal guards and clandestine guards, it are the clandestine guards who ran away. So the first clean up was successful. Now its again a safer place for normal volunteers. After that I saw a lot of soldiers who do basic voluntary assignments to help the refugees instead of this testosterone sugar-based soldiers thingy.
So when I was getting out of the camp, although I even saw more 9-5'ers, even one looked as strange to me as I looked as strange to the 9-5'ers, maybe its somebody who likes his job, like me. Or read my blog, hell I spread the word to everybody so no political side can take advantage or wait, I don't know fascists... They miss something if they don't take action now against us...
Just the last psychosis to say sleep well..
The most psychotic thing tonight was probably the metal guy with a a 10 000 euro camera and lens who wants to make a metal solidarity movement for the refugees. Also the Israëli's who I said he didn't have to show off with his identity to much because their could be trouble; I got shouted against by this logistical payed guy from medecin du monde, who was probably some child star in the media. This they don't get if I am worried about this, but its not a problem that me as a man I don't get female cases to interpret. This is normal according to the Israëli's and the overworked logistical guy, because women sleep during the night... This is real sexism and prejudice, I rest my case... Be generous with me I need this victory!
To sleep, no more café latte, just to say I am a Café-Latte-based Journalist in the Camp!