posted in: Teaching in Lesvos | 2

I made my way to the Ecohub garden today, armed with two scrubbing brushes (on the basis that someone might lend a hand – ha!) and a retractable knife, in order to make a start on cleaning and cutting the dinghy rubber, so that it can be used as a backcloth for the production. If I’m honest, that “make a start “ phrase is with the benefit of hindsight – I had fully expected to finish the job in one fell swoop.

The raw material was heaped up under the shade of an olive tree, but it did not help that the workers from the garden had used the same spot to chain their bikes, so the first task was to drag the stuff out, piece by piece, from underneath them.  Fortunately, there was a convenient stand-pipe nearby, with some shade – yes, another olive tree – so I had a good place to sit and scrub.  It was, however, a communal facility, so I had to break off regularly to allow people to soak their heads, wash their feet or, in two cases, go for the full hair wash, shampoo and all.  But it was all very good-natured, and allowed me some natural breaks.

The rubber material was pretty unwieldy, and did give me pause for thought that it had been  the only thing to keep 50 or 60 refugees from drowning in the dark.  Scrubbing it clean was hard work, but slicing each tube even harder; I had made the mistake of buying a cheap knife from the Euro shop.  It was sharp enough – dangerously so –  but the handle kept breaking, so eventually I taped the blade to a piece of wood.

Eventually, I decided I would not be able to complete the task – the sun was blazing, my back was aching, and the crocs I had chosen as suitable footwear gave me a raw blister.  I packed up, and hobbled down the hill to the bus stop.  When I finally made it home, I showered and then collapsed on my bed, exhausted.  Still, I’d made a start.

“I’m not a rubber scrubber, I’m a rubber scrubber’s chum; I’m only scrubbing rubber till the rubber scrubber comes.”

2 Responses

  1. sue

    Bet people thought you were crazy, cleaning up an old rubber dingy! There was a project that was based at Mosaik, where the refugees were turning the discarded life jackets in to fashion bags. I wonder if that is still ongoing?
    Also some Danish volunteers who were trying to stop the amount of life jackets washed up on the beaches on Lesbos turning the place into a rubbish dump, started a scheme to recycle them as sleeping mats, although this was apparently with limited success as the refugees didn’t want to sleep on something that had such dreadful associations for them.

    Good luck with the back drop, clever idea.


    …hi rubber scrubbers chum…
    … greetings from Lviv.. Ukraine…

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