Last Sunday’s piece concerning the treatment of the refugee community on Chios met with… less than positive responses from certain individuals and groups.
Nevertheless, the freedom of individual expression is an underpinning value of our societies and I am sure that criticism is met with at least momentary self-reflection, before violence, anger or the rhetoric of disappointment is levelled against a writer who has no other desire than to talk openly about the ongoing situation on Chios.
I was, however, rightly advised by one disappointed reader that I should instead focus on my ‘Vision for Vial’ rather than talk about the issues and problems (that no one knows about). In fact, I was even quoted Martin Luther King’s constructive speech for positive change: “I have a dream”. So, here’s to dreaming for change… (although, for the record, I personally prefer the later line in the same speech: “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquillising drug of gradualism.”
Criticism and self-reflection are the first steps in improvements and thinking to the future.
But here I do not criticise. I look forwards to a better future. What follows is the first of my - and not my organisation’s! - 5 visionary scenes for improvements in Vial.
A place to not live with trash?
In my first Vision for Vial, I point out, in case it hasn’t come to your attention, that Vial is dirty and polluted place to live. It is not a home. This might come as something of a surprise, but then again, Vial is in fact a major rubbish collection centre for waste in Chios. This waste is housed in one huge half of the old factory. I am assured it is of an utmost priority of yours to clear out this area, but we've yet to see change. Listen to this former resident of Vial::
“How sad this is; the waste has a building, while asylum seekers are sleeping in tents.”
Nevertheless, I would like to suggest, humbly, that you install more adequate waste facilities. Some recycling bins would be nice. It might even reduce the huge amount of plastic waste littering the fields around Vial, improving relations with local land-owners and protecting the valuable natural ecosystems.
The potential health risks are also huge - and I need not remind you of the recent outbreaks of scabies and feared tuberculosis infections. During summer’s storms and winter’s rains, much of this rubbish seeps throughout the camp - just look at the water in the picture! - and I’m sure you share my concern for the transmittance of dangerous chemicals to children with nowhere to play. Thankfully, this photo is very old, and I'm sure by the next heavy rainfall the problem will be resolved.
As you are no doubt aware (even though you haven’t yet responded to my email invitation), we have invited First Reception to join us in an environmental intervention this Sunday at 16:30 to clean up the road and areas around Vial. Access to your dump would be appreciated, and a response would be nice.
Looking forward to an update on this matter, which I’m sure you’re able to provide in the comments below, seeing how diligently your staff read last week’s article. In the meantime, I hope other readers raise their voices and report on what's happening on Europe's borders.