So the Greeks had an old airport……well really two (one domestic, one International), and when they got the Olympics a couple years ago they built a shiny new airport and used the old airports to build venues for the Olympics. So the building that housed the basketball games is now simply know as the Warehouse.
At first glance- it is overwhelming and crazy. But as the time during the day wore on, we could see the order. We were assigned to take already sorted boxes, confirm their content and pile them up against a wall, we were sorting mens and women’s winter clothing. There were a couple of other volunteers that would bring us the boxes and we would take boxes out that were not labeled correctly and these boxes would be placed in the area they were needed.
There were about a dozen volunteers working, languages from all over the world. Slowing going thru the donated boxes, sorting and placing items in the correct box to be given to the refugees at some point. And here is where I will suggest to you (and me too…….totally guilty). The next time you are getting a box to send to be donated, please don’t include those plastic shoes with the broken strap-well only one of them since your darling daughter lost the other one, or the t-shirt stained red down the front from throw up. These items were not worth shipping around the world, only to be thrown out.
While we were there a huge semi truck was loaded with pallets of clothing, food…….and was going to one of the camps up by the Macedonia border. It is the camp that has been in the news with the tear gas attacks that have happened 2 times this past week (Idomeni). *Mom we will not be visiting this camp-I promise.
One of the volunteers we met at the warehouse was once herself a refugee from Kenya. Rosemary and her 3 children joined her husband here in Athens 6 years ago. 3 months after she arrived here she got the phone call that her husband had been struck by a car and killed. She was so beautiful- her spirit was amazing. She felt that she had been helped so much as a new refugee in Greece when she arrived that she gives back now by feeding 200 people 2 times a week. She also realized that with so many orphans in Kenya, and that she owned a house there not being lived in, she charged her mother in law with hiring someone to live with 6 kids who were either orphans or living with elderly grandparents who were not able to afford to send them to school (school while free in Kenya, the students still need money for school uniforms and books). She sends back to Kenya about $60USD a month and is able to make a difference in those children’s lives. She works as a nanny here in Athens and hopes to travel for the first time back to Kenya this year when she expects to finally get her papers so that she can go back and meet “her kids” in Africa.
We ended up working for most of the day- eventually I ended up sorting the children’s shoes. I’m hoping that moving forward that all groups spend at least a day here sorting, as this job will NEVER be finished with a dozen or so volunteers. Anyone looking for a place to volunteer in Athens this is it- they will need help for a very long time!
For dinner we took the metro into the heart of Athens and met Chloe who is a French woman living here in Athens and has decided on her own to work with the pregnant women and newborns. As we were having dinner with Chloe and hearing about her dream of providing baby boxes to new mothers and babies (like they do in Finland). Unbeknown to us at that dinner Carry the Future has partnered with an organization that will be providing baby boxes to the camps in Jordan. The Universe is good, and all providing!
We had a practice session trying on carriers with each other before we hit our first camp tomorrow.
I have been assigned to be the DD (designated driver) so enjoying driving these beauties around in our big ass 12 passenger van filled with aid-