Can it get any worse?
Every time you visit a camp (and it doesn’t matter on which island, or whether it is on the mainland in Athens or Thessaloniki) you always think: this can’t be worse … But then the next visit shows that unfortunately it can always be worse. You feel a sense of powerlessness, shame and anger, that this is possible in 2019 … Last year we distributed around 10,000 coats during the winter distribution; this year 15,000 (the people who arrive new immediately get a clothing package). The numbers have never been this high. The number of refugees, on Lesbos alone, is already going to 20,000 people on a much too small surface. This requires difficulties; especially when the winter really starts!
Are there no positive messages to report at all?
Certainly! The organizations that are active on the Greek islands really do everything in their power to help these people. Together with a lot of volunteers who do their work unpaid (they themselves pay for their trip, stay, food, rental car, etc.) they do what they can. Hats off for all these (often young) people! However, these volunteers and organizations depend on what you do with your abundance. In other words: they depend on donations of goods such as clothing, footwear, tents, sleeping bags, etc. But also on sponsors and gifts! Transports also cost a lot of money, a breakfast times thousands of people is a big amount every day, the surface of the site flattening out so that the tents can stand a bit flat, the tents themselves, medical care and you name it …. it costs all money! For you, 20 Euro may not be that much. For these people it makes a world of difference. They are not bathed with a gift under the Christmas tree but much more with a waterproof tent.
And there is a big lack of tents at the moment! You see people along the road carrying bunches of sugar cane from which they make a kind of frame and with pieces of plastic (which they find on an industrial park for example) build something of a shelter where they can accommodate their little family. You can imagine that the wind has free play and the rain seeps everywhere in between. If you are lucky and you find a pallet then you do not have to sleep on the cold ground, but slightly raised and hopefully ‘dry’ on a piece of cardboard from a box …. Inhuman conditions!
‘Compulsory free time’
I took the last two days of my visit off and used that time to visit other organizations to see where we can support each other. Collaboration is so important! These days I also went into the “jungle” (the area around the real camp Moria) to see with my own eyes what it is like to live in such circumstances. I have spoken with many people there and have also been invited to talk to them in their shelters. What a hospitable people! Just about the last cookie they have, they even offer you …. Nice conversations, tasted what it is like to be a refugee, felt again what it is like to live in such a tent, sleep and eat. People pointed us to the fact that there is always hope (at the same time the rainbow was in the sky). But also the gratitude of these people may experience that you want to do this work for them because others read: European countries, looking away. I was able to gain a lot of impressions and repeatedly asked myself what a person is capable of.
But despite all the misery that passes you by like a movie, new energy has been gained to put a lot of effort into it again in the new year. With a new spirit to make it more bearable for these people in their current circumstances. Our responsibility to take up again despite limitations that we constantly encounter ourselves. But in full confidence that we can count on you to be able to (continue to) do this beautiful and unfortunately so necessary work. Please continue to support our work.
how nice it would be to offer these refugees a good shelter during the Christmas season in the form of a decent tent. For just 25 Euro you can give a refugee family such a new living space. A world of difference! If you also want to donate 5 sleeping mats, 5 sleeping bags and hot water bags, you can donate 75 euros. We ensure that these people can go ‘prepared’ for the winter. That gives you a good feeling, but these people are super helped and will really be grateful to you. I now know again what gratitude is ….
Shall we all let our hearts speak?
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