Today I was assigned a night shift – from midnight to 08:00 am – together with a doctor from England whos country of origin is Pakistan.
When we arrived at the hospital, we were told that a young Pakistani was to stay overnight because he was very “unstable”. He had tried to inflict pain on himself with a razor blade and swallowed a whole box of antibiotics at once. On top of that, it was plain to see that he had a desperate need to talk to someone – luckily my Pakistani colleague was present.
We tried everything possible, to get him to rest in the lounge, but it was in vain, he really just wanted to talk with us, to which we could not very well say no, of course.
He talked about his family; his brother and his mother. He said that there was no future in Pakistan, that in Europe he felt a sense of benevolence for the first time in his life, and that it is very dangerous in Pakistan – as there are many terrorists. He said that his journey – from Pakistan to Europe – had taken about a month and that he had been saving up for it for years – but had also borrowed a lot of money from relatives and friends. In addition, the smugglers promise the refugees that there is no problem at all with getting a job in Europe – they beautify the “West”, so to speak, and make false promises.
His goal is to get to Italy as he really likes the soccer teams.
A few days earlier Sabri had tried to take the ferry from Lesbos to Athens, which turned out to be impossible for him since he can not be registered officially in Greece – this rule applies to all Pakistanis. He lost his money and was immediately sent back to the camp.
That night I realized how much the temperatures drop during the night. Luckily we had two heaters that kept us warm, otherwise it would have been unbearable. It is incomprehensible to me how the poor people can sleep outside in a tent with only a sleeping bag.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door, it was the young man’s friends. They, too, wanted to spend the night in our tent. We took them in and brought them some tea. In the meantime, they had a chance to warm up by the heater. They could not stay with us for the night though , since the space must be kept free for patients.
After we had cleaned and tidied up everything and were ready to go to the relaxation room briefly, once more someone knocked on the door – a man stood before us, blood trickling down his face, looking very confused. We first took him in, placing him next to the fire as he was very cool and trembling, and cleaned his wound.
The young man was from Afghanistan and since we did not speak Farsi, we had to get a translator – who was on the spot within a few minutes. With the help of the translator, we found out what had happened: the man suffered from epilepsy and had experienced a seizure during the night, on his way to the toilet. He lost consciousness when he hit his head on something and spent the whole night out in the cold. All his medication had been lost in the sea on the boat trip from Turkey to Greece.
Actually he lived in the official camp, but since ‘Doctors without borders’ did not open their hospital care before 09.00 in the morning – he came to us. He was very worried because his family did not know what had happened to him nor where he was at the moment. We immediately contacted someone from the other camp, so that they could inform his family.
Fortunately nothing worse had happened to the young man.
(*For the purpose of privacy and safety, all names have been changed in this story)
Translation from German: Serena Nebo