I ride the van to Moria and many people pile into the seats. Daniel, a man with a huge smile (yes, he has just spent the night in the camp) squeezes in next to me and we start talking. Within less than two minutes, he asks me "what I believe in." No small talk, no fluff. Heart to heart right from the start. The conversation we have on the way back to the Center in a mixture of English and French is more substantial than many conversations I have had with people I have known for years. That's 20 minutes into the job.
She walks into the makeshift boutique and looks for a coat to wear instead of the pretty one her neighbor lent her. None of the ones we have hanging fit her small body so I tell her that I will look into the stock and to come back in a few minutes. She returns and tries on the two coats I set aside for her, picks one she likes and walks away out of the store holding her bag and saying: thank you for giving me a chance.
He is less than 4 years old with big green eyes. He follows me around the Center and flashes a bright shiny green paper heart at me as though he is doing some sort of magical mischief.
Memory and I are working together in the shop, getting it ready to open. She is fast and super efficient, while laughing and trying on coats for herself. She too, woke up in Moria this morning. At lunchtime, she shows me where to go to get food and I find her later reading a book called The Secrets to Happiness. When I mention chocolate, later in the afternoon, she reaches into her backpack and hands me a bar of Crunch.
A beautiful young couple from Afghanistan tells me about how the engine of their boat died on the passage to the island, in the pouring rain four months ago, and how much they prayed to get here safely. Mehdi's eyes light up like a Christmas tree when he tells me about his vision of becoming a soccer coach somewhere in Europe. Somehow, I think he is going to do just that.
She looks tired, sitting on a bench and gently rocking a stroller back and forth in front of her. We catch each other's eyes and smile in recognition of that universal, primal movement.
We are much more alike than we are different.