The eight "squares" hope

Little Mohammed runs left and right in the concrete stance along the railroad. "He poses" in front of the camera, peaking at us through the net. In the place where in 2015, thousands of his compatriots, thousands of sufferers from different countries around the world affected by war, hunger and poverty, were getting on the trains on which they believed would take them to a happy life.

GEVGELIJA - To this day the standpoint is deserted. And the camp is almost empty. Muhammad and his parents say they do not want to return down to Justinian (Greece), nor in Syria, and that they want to go up towards Germany, for 11 months now they are Gevgelian residents of a refugee camp in the Macedonian-Greek border ...

Gevgelija, February 2017 ...

The area of the bridge, beside the once facility of the company "Vinojug" up until the famous border track point 59, which even after 26 years the border stone stands with the inscription SFRY, in the international railway road Skopje - Thessaloniki, in the Macedonian-Greek border, is almost eerily empty. Although only two hours before the visit of the great guest -- the head of the Austrian diplomacy, also in the role of the chairman of the OSCE -- in the wire enclosed path between the vineyards and the railway, are no policemen. With the fellow photographers we recall memories from the period when the same place was filled with police officers, soldiers, refugees, migrants, journalists, cameramen, photographers ... When thousands of voices from the Greek side were roaring "Macedonia, open the borders!"; when several refugees as a sign of protest were sewing their mouths; when streams of people were ending in the camp, and in front of the trains, buses, taxis, with part of the savings that they escaped with from the torment - to take them to the Northern Serbian-Macedonian border to fear for their future; when, unfortunately, there were clashes between the police and the refugees who threw stones from the railroad when the immortalized scenes from the Railway Station Gevgelija were marketed through the world news media ...

Agrin Yousef (24) and her husband Hasan (29), Kurds from Syria, for 11 months now are staying in the transit refugee camp in Gevgelija. In Syria, she studied Arabic, and her husband was an employee in an electricity shop. When she arrived in Macedonia, she was in her fifth month of pregnancy. She gave birth in Skopje and her son Khalil, spent the first eight months of his life in the camp. The baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in the arms of the mother, looks as the most cared and the most protected child of the world. Only if the sorrow in the eyes of his father wasn't bending over his wife and son ... 

"We want to continue somewhere further ... For the safety of the child. Before we get stuck and stay for a year here, we want to leave for any country. We have no clue where to go, to stay here or go back to Greece ...  in Syria of course, we cannot go back. We just want our baby to have a better life than ours ".

Baby Khalil, however, is not the youngest "resident" of the camp. In the nearby residence in the neighboring shed, his relative Ivan is peacefully sleeping, born just forty days ago. His mother Nela (29) sitting cross-legged on the floor, is cooking cabbage, and immediately stands up with open arms literally, welcomes us in their "home" in which her husband, a former tailor in Syria, their two daughters and the newborn baby, live for 11 months now. Our conversation "is flowing", mainly by waving hands, demonstrating, with puzzled looks and lots of smiles ... Although we barely understand each other, with the help of a relative, they explain to me that Nela got pregnant while in the camp that the child was born in Skopje, and that his name was, however, Kurdish. And that she is a happy mother ...

So much anticipation, and so much hope in a container of more than 8 square meters. With sponges on the floor, the smell of cabbage and with a babbling baby ...

Mixing Arabic, English, Macedonian, the two interlocutors somehow managed to explain to me that currently in the camp there are only ten families from Iraq and Syria, and a few individuals, a total of sixty refugees. Unlike the refugees from two years ago and last year, they are not afraid of the camera. They walk us to the "street" with babies in their arms and they wave at us ... A wish from the heart dedicated to both of the mothers - to continue further their journey with their families, wherever they want. Or stay in Macedonia. But, not to encounter them here again, till our next visit.

When leaving, a handsome boy, while watching us as we try to understand each other, offered me his translation services from Arabic to English. Little Levant introduces the container of his family, where the only table inside is an improvised studio of his father Shergo. Painted bottles, sketched portraits, drawings with various motifs, pencils, markers, colors ... So much art, so much hope in a refugee container.

I’m leaving with a swarm of contrasting feelings. While in one of the barracks, the children’s laughter was echoing and the sounds of Macedonian language from their teachers, part of the colleagues leave with the high European delegation to the next event on the agenda - the promotion of thermographic camera for the prevention of the illegal attempts for crossing the border. Well, life goes on ...

The photojournalist colleague makes the final photos: little Mohammed continues to play alone, runs, from left to right, right there behind the net.

Source: VoANews