A team of trauma therapists from Richmont Graduate University has traveled to Greece to assess and respond to the needs of Syrian refugees and relief workers. Their mission is the training of humanitarian workers in compassion fatigue and trauma and also counseling families at the detention camp in Lesbos. The following is an update from Dr. Lorrie Slater.
Our final day in Greece began early with entrance into the camp at 8:00am. We met with the morning shift to introduce ourselves to the new volunteers and to check in with those we had already met. We discussed compassion fatigue, the effects traumatic stories can have on the listener, coping techniques and possible warning signs. As we looked at the faces of the volunteers I wondered about their individual stories…what brought them here and how were they coping? Upon conclusion of check in, our team took a time out to rest up from the previous day. We headed back to the hotel for some individual quiet time.
I chose to spend some time swimming in the Aegean Sea. As I swam, I reflected over the people I have met, the stories they shared, and the amount of courage it took to journey from Syria to Turkey and then here to the island of Lesvos. I began to pray and worship. I was reminded of the old hymn, “It is well”. I wondered if it would ever be well in the souls of the hurting people I met and the thousands of other refuges I had not. I was reminded of these lyrics,
“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul.”
It is because of Him and His sacrifice that we can have hope for our hurting world.
We re-entered the camp at lunchtime and began our work again. Mary interpreted for Nia and I as we met with a family who requested a meeting with us. They were asking for ways to manage the stress of living in the camp. This family’s courage in conversation reminded me of the strength and incredible resiliency the refugees of Moria have shown in the face of tremendous pain and loss. What a gift to sit with them. We left our family session to search for Dr. Snyder and Liz. We found them sitting with some single women from Eritrea. Liz introduced us to the ladies who told us of their songs of Jesus that bring comfort from the nightmares that wake them. We thanked them for speaking with us and said our goodbyes. As we exited the camp, Dr. Snyder said farewell to a lady with whom she had been working. The young lady began to weep and Dr. Snyder was moved to tears. Their tearful goodbye was a visual manifestation of the heaviness in my heart. Although I’m excited to return home to my family, friends and my work, my heart is grieved. I am forever changed by the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard and so very grateful for this opportunity.