I had already recruited James, a Better Days volunteer at the Ecohub garden, as musical director for the production, and he invited me to see him and a friend of his from One Happy Family perform at an informal concert. This was to be held at Pikpa, another of Lesvos’s network of refugee camps. I was joined by Jaime (who was more interested in seeing Pikpa than attending the concert) as well as Laura and Ciara, newly arrived volunteers from Ireland.
Pikpa is indeed an interesting place. It is a former holiday camp, situated close to the airport, which had first been occupied and squatted by refugees and volunteers in 2015. It now has semi-official status, and is run by Lesvos Solidarity, an umbrella NGO, also responsible for Mosaik. A holiday camp in many ways provides the ideal infrastructure for a refugee camp, having chalets, administrative offices, communal areas and facilities (including a modern, well-equipped kitchen.) We only got the most superficial view of the site, as to wander and gawk would have been intrusive, but it appeared to be a very civilised environment. The chalets have often been extended with canvas awnings, and I am guessing that this is to provide individual cooking facilities. But I don’t know for sure that these housed families; James told me that the site is for the most vulnerable of the refugee population. I can’t be certain what this means exactly, but presumably includes disabled people.
Our timing was excellent, as we arrived just as the concert was about to begin. It was informally arranged: some benches in what appeared to be the camp reception area. James’ friend Iman is a guitar teacher at One Happy Family, and it was him and his students, about a dozen young men and women with acoustic guitars, who were the main act, though they were supported by James on a keyboard, a bass guitarist, and a refugee man with a home-made harmonium. Various of the group contributed vocals, my favourite being two beautiful Afghan girls with equally beautiful voices.
However, there were also a number of other acts contributing to the entertainment: some break dancers, a very talented juggler, the harmonium player performing some solos, a Farsi rapper, an African man singing a pop song. Best of all to my mind was one of the guitar group who revealed himself as a magnificent Spanish/classical style guitarist, playing two beautiful pieces that would have graced any concert anywhere.
The evening was completed by everyone sharing a huge pot of Afghan stew, which was delicious. In all, a splendid way to pass an evening.