Dealing With Harsh Weather

Dealing With Harsh Weather

Weather has an odd impact on camp life. Boats swamp us when it’s dry and beautiful and usually stop when the seas are rough and pouring and awful, which can be a relief. But on the other hand, rain at the camp disrupts what little order exists completely.

Not only is rain terribly dispiriting and to be avoided at all costs when you have no viable means of getting dry, but all of our infrastructure is built at the base of a long hill, where the water pools into a long, muddy, deep, lake.

The info tent was crammed to capacity with Syrian families trying to get out of the rain. On the right as you entered the tent a teenager was sleeping, nestled in space blankets, as his mother and two year old sister (quite cute in her hot pink jacket, but crying nonetheless) sat next to him.

It seemed babies were sleeping on every surface. In these situations, where people are simply waiting and feeling miserable, tea and baby food usually help shift the energy from cold and desperate to something resembling cheerfulness. It mostly worked.

At clothing distribution, predictably, there was a run on ponchos. The best ones come in these little sealed packs the size of a wallet (best because they can be handed out easily, and because style becomes a moot question). We had a box or two of multicolored ones, but eventually ran out and had to give everyone ponchos with little pink flowers on them (pictured left).

Around five in the afternoon, during an idle moment, I watched a kid fall bodily into our little mud lake. Despite its obvious slapstick value, I brought him and his mother immediately into the clothing distribution tent for a completely new wardrobe. It’s unfortunate that this is what it takes for a kid to obtain a ‘brand new’ set of clothes, but such is our situation.

Meanwhile, volunteers were digging a beautiful network of gutters and trenches to divert water flow from the tents. The trenches were planned by an American I hadn’t met before whose name I didn’t catch, but who seemed to have some construction experience (at least, he seemed like he knew what he was doing).

The trenches were a tangible, muddy, satisfying project. With pick and hoe and spade, we drained a lot of puddles. Andres, a Spaniard who had arrived the day before but whose luggage had been lost on the airplane, was one of the main volunteers. When he swung the ax to break up roots or clear stones, the mud flew up and sprayed him all over his laughing face.

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