It seems that every country we have visited these past 2 weeks loves their stamps on papers. At a warehouse 2 weeks ago we received paperwork that needed to be returned, re-writen and given back to us. So we did as we were asked- received our “new” paper work and went searching for a grocery store to buy some aid.
There are many Greeks (including CTF’s very own Rita Continakis) who are making a big difference in the lives of the refugees. On Facebook there are dozens of pages devoted to helping this population – and often an SOS will go out on one of these FB boards asking for help. Yesterday one such message went out as Amurtal House, which offers midwife services for the refugees, was in desperate need of diapers.
Amanda and I found a big grocery store and bought a cart full of diapers and wipes. We also purchased food for the 17 families living in Lavrio which we were going to visit in the afternoon.
We found Amurtal House-thankfully the lift was working and we were able to put all the diapers in it to take to the 5th floor. It is such a bright and beautiful spot for these women (and men, as they often come with their wives). Kids played quietly in the play area, the midwife was bustling about between appointments and the staff was busy helping the mothers who had stopped by maybe to bath their babies in the nice big bathtub because their squat did not have this option, or getting a kit with basic supplies to give to a mom who has run out of wipes and diapers.
They are going to have to move in the next month- problems with their land lord. So everyone is hoping they find a bigger space, maybe without being 5 floors up (many times the lift breaks and the moms have to walk up the 5 flights), as sunny and spacious as their current location and with storage. A written form of a vision board!
At the grocery store we had divided up all the goods we purchased for the Afghan camp in individual bags- we got fresh fruit, veggies, cooking oil, tea, cookies and suckers for the kids, dried beans, rice and a loaf of bread. It is an easy drive to Lavrio from Athens, about an hour drive. Kids were playing in the dirt area in front of the 2 story building. This would be my 4th time in a year visiting. Many of the children recognized us and came to greet us. I feel like an Auntie to them and can see how tall they get between visits. Such sweet smiles. All of the children here are attending a local Greek school, plus when available tutors come and help them with their English and German (where most people ultimately want to end up).
We sat and had tea with a family I keep in touch with. There are/were 8 of them living in a room about 14’X14′. We sat down for tea and a snack when we were told that the oldest girl (20) and the youngest boy (5) had gone to The Netherlands to be with the Dad’s brother. The Uncle has been in Europe for 20+ years. Mom looked sad when we were talking about it- the ultimate goal is family reunification. But there is no way of knowing if or when that will happen. I cannot imaging sending 2 of my children away- but doing it because at least you know 2 will have made it. There is always talk that especially the Afghan and Iraqi refugees will be sent back home.
When we parted we “hoped that we would not see them again in Greece”. That they would all be reunited in Germany-
We next headed over to the 3rd camp in Lavrio that I learned of last trip with Team 19. Good news is that the city has cleared away the garbage dump on 1 side of the 15 ISO boxes, bad news is that the compost pile remains. We were invited into tea in their “tea room”. We learned that they continue to not receive much outside help and that they have 5 babies that will be born soon! We will forward this message to CTF so that future teams can visit this lonely forgotten camp.
We ended our day with dinner with Chloe who we met during our 1st trip to Greece last April. Chloe volunteers/works at Amurtal House and our topic at the fabulous vegetarian restaurant was ……… of course……… the refugees. It is sad how the situation is changing so rapidly and the fear that so many feel with the shift to the right that many countries are seeing. The refugees are the ones who will suffer as NGO’s pull out and donations dry up.