The appointment with Mariam, METAdrasi’s interpreter in Farsi, is early in the morning at Athens airport. She is a sweet and kind colleague with whom I had not had the chance to cooperate in the past. We exchange information and we get organized, while flying to Lesvos. On the island, we head straight to Moria. There, we drop by METAdrasi’s office for a quick “good morning” to our colleagues who offer Interpretation at the Asylum Service, as well as to the authorised representatives/guardians of unaccompanied minors. “You are taking the best kids”, Kyriakos, one of METAdrasi’s authorised representatives/guardians of unaccompanied minors, tells us smiling. “We are always glad when children finally get away from here”, he adds. In Moria’s Reception and Identification Center there is hustle. Countless worn-down people are wandering around, while the newly arrived await to get their data recorded.
We pick up the first two children, Issa and Reza, two brothers from Afghanistan, aged 13 and 15. They reached Lesvos two months ago, together with their older brother, who cannot follow them to the minors’ accommodation facility, as he is over 18. The family will have to be separated again… The expressions of the three brothers make our hearts clench. “I must remain calm” I think to myself. With the interpreter’s help, I explain to the children that they will be staying in a facility where they will have proper care, support regarding asylum procedures and healthcare, as well as the opportunity to go to school. “Don’t worry about your brothers”, I reassure the older brother. “They will be safe and you will be in touch. At the first chance you will meet again”.
The next child we pick up is 16-year-old Kai, originating from Western Africa. He is particularly popular: many friends have gathered to say goodbye. Showing him the Organisation’s vest I wear, I explain to him in English, which he speaks fluently, that I will escort him to a proper accommodation facility. In that moment. I realise that I am asking a boy who has been through so many difficult situations, to trust me, a stranger, to escort him to an unknown place… I speak to him about the better conditions that await him in order to reassure him.
I introduce Kai to Issa and Reza and the children seem to be communicating fine, although they don’t have a common language. We get the children’s few possessions – just one backpack each – and we set off with a minivan for the airport. On the way, we find the time to inform the children with more details on the opportunities they will have at the accommodation facilities, but also on the lurking dangers if they do not keep their distance from all kinds of traffickers that might approach them outside the facilities.