What a week! In all we drove over 2,000 miles- we loaded and unloaded the van to many times to count. Found out that only 16 baby boxes fit into a van if you use all but the front seat, baby boxes can be assembled in a minute apiece with a 5 person team, Greek oregano potato chips are EVIL!!!!………as in you cannot just have 1, you need your own bag!
Our last day was full- we started out getting out of the hotel right at 8am- we drove to the Salvation Army warehouse to start making boxes- 55 boxes to be exact.
The door is an unassuming green metal door- behind that door is an amazing collection of donated goods- not as many as the main warehouse- but an impressive sight. Our unassembled baby boxes were located on a 2nd floor- WAY in the back of the warehouse- we passed (sometimes having to step sideways) mountains of aid.
In quick order we broke down the pallets and started assembling. Such a great team- all worker bees. It took us 55 min to assemble 55 boxes!
We loaded up the vans with 15 boxes each. We’d assembled another 30 boxes for future teams. We then packed the vans with 15 boxes each and headed to Ameurtal-a center that supports pregnant and nursing mothers. Initially they were set up in the port area and offered their midwifery services (including baby washing area) out of 2 small RV’s. Today they are near Victoria Park where many refugees live and come to for services. This was only their 2nd week open.
Such a lovely space- there is an examination room for the moms and midwives, an area where Moms can get help with any lactation issues, a kitchen, bath room with a nice tub for bathing babies, a play area for siblings and a waiting area for Dad.
We back into the vans and headed to the 1st of 2 camps-to deliver 15 baby boxes to each of the camps. Our first stop was Ritsonia, this camp has such great support- residents are still in tents but Iso boxes are coming soon- they are on site just getting water and electricity hooked up. The kids were all lined up in an area waiting to get on 1 of 3 big coaches that bring them to school.
Of the 650 people at the camp 130 are under the age of 5. We delivered our boxes to an NGO that supports mothers in a fantastic walled off space away from everyone. We were invited into a tent for tea, 3 mothers were chatting as their oldest kids had just left for school-only their 2nd week of school. Just like at home the mothers gather to catch up and take a break after the kids leave. We did not share a language but did share the love of the 2 two year olds who where about as cute as toddlers can get playing on the ground moving rocks at our feet.
Oinfyta was a collection of about 20 tents when Team 8 visited in April- maybe 10 of them had refugees in them. Today over 600 people call this camp home- it is self run meaning that the refugees themselves control how the camp is run and the
NGO’s support the leaders. This really is the best model when running a camp. These are real people with amazing skills and goals. Completely capable of self governing. We got to see the whole camp- there is a large warehouse that was empty in April and now has individual rooms maybe 12’X12′ for families. A kitchen, sewing room, washing machines, prayer space and a barber!
We had to have one of the rental vans back to the hotel by 8pm, I will drive myself, Ming and Rachel to the airport early in the morning – our time together ending. It has been such an amazing week. This team 19 was such an amazing force-being super flexible when needed, working hard, rolling with the changes in the schedule and just being all around fantastic.