So for a bit of a change I’m writing this morning, nursing a coffee at our adopted coffee shop, opposite the hotel pit. I was going to try writing this last night but I needed some zzzzz’s and also needed to get to sleep before the snoring train, that is Richard Brookshaw, came into the station. I almost made it but luckily still managed a few hours kip.
The last couple of days have been so very very… Very busy. On Saturday we strolled over to the NRC (Norwegian refugee council), an office block, about ten minutes from the pit. We had been warned it was going to be busy and we started clinic at about 10 after spending the requisite 30 minutes setting up our surgery. Patients were bussed in for the next few hours and depressingly most of the treatment was adults and children with sugar ravaged gross decay. We must have got through a bucket of fluoride varnish and glass ionomer. The people were once again marvellous and the children so brave and friendly. So many cuddles received and photos taken!
Yesterday, we expected a different day. The Macedonian border camp of Nea Kavala is about an hour away from Thessaloniki. Hence, another early start on no sleep. We arrived and had to get past the Greek military to get in. It looked deserted as we arrived and I tempted fate by suggesting it would be a quiet day. We met with members of the Finnish Red Cross and set up in one of their cabins.
The refugees here were from many different countries. We met people from Eritrea, Nigeria, Egypt, Syria, Congo and Iraq. We had to diagnose in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and English. We had very different types of treatments here…. Incredibly difficult extractions of wisdom teeth made us run very late and we had people waiting hours for their appointments. We finished surgery and pack up around 7 and then had a tour of the camp. It used to hold about 3500 people but now is home to around 800. Built on an old military air strip the camp is built down the incredibly long runway. We were stopped by a eloquent middle aged man who thanked us for the work we did but made to realise it’s only the tip of the problem. So many people we saw had so many problems we didn’t have time to treat. We could spend a month here and still not service the need of the people.
Have to stop now… Driving to next camp… This time up in the mountains…