April-Team 27, Northern Greece

When I changed my clock on my phone to military time during my SEVEN HOUR LONG LAYOVER IN PARIS…….well, actually not Paris, Paris.  Rather the airport- my trip timer was somehow deleted.  It was supposed to be an 85 min layover and I did arrive at the gate while the plane was still there- but the boarding had closed so Jilly got to spend extra time in CDG.  This time it took me over 30 hours to get here.  A new record- more importantly lessons learned!

Arrived in the wee hours of the morning, was able to get 5 hours of mostly restful sleep before we hit the road running!  Team 27 has Amanda and I back together for our 3rd IMG_5962trip!!!  We are Ying to each others Yang- and I love traveling with her!  Plus she can pack a van like no one’s business.   Amanda and I met on our 1st trip with CTF- Team 8 a year ago.  Sarah was our team leader then and is this teams leader, except she had to go to Jordan to fit like 1000 baby carriers, but she will be back in a few days.

We all flew into Thessaloniki (and yes, Jill can finally say this cities name!).  Greece’s 2nd largest city located about a 5 hours drive north of Athens.  We met for breakfast, walked around the corner to pick up our rental van for the next 9 days then headed towards Alexandria about an hour away.  We needed to load my Greek phone with data (you pay for the data you use and it disappears after a month) this took extra time as my data was not working and the phone store was very busy!  But before we got to the phone store weIMG_5967 passed a really big Jumbo store so had to stop and buy items for the baby baskets.  Of the 5 of us, 2 have never been to Greece before!  It is always fun to see peoples reactions!

Last month the baby baskets from the UK were delivered to a warehouse in Alexandria.  Our team muled over the baby items in their checked baggage (onesies, hats, washcloths, pajama’s, blankets….) and in Greece we were purchasing at Jumbo diapers, wipes, pads for mom, baby shampoo and bra pads.  The funds for these items are raised with donations to CTF and also for all the diaper parties that have been being held around the world this last month.  Amazing.  We filled 5 carts of swag and started the hour drive to Alexandria.  Thankfully we stopped at the hotel first and got rid of out bags!  We spent

the next 3 hours organizing 30 baby baskets and taking inventory of all the items for the beds.  The warehouse was empty of their workers so we were able to make use of the whole sorting table, which we needed.  The 42 baskets (we also grabbed 12 baskets the

last team had assembled) were then loaded into the van.  It.Was.Full.!   There are going to be 42 very happy Mama’s and babies very soon!  Everything is all organized so that when we return to pack more beds it won’t take as much time!

Back in AZ Zabi (our refugee families youngest- a 2nd grader) had his 1st school

Zabi (10) with his brother Abdul Aziz (16)

performance.  Less than 2 weeks after arriving from Afghanistan by way of Pakistan, he sang in English and spoke in his native tongue Farsi along with his other 2nd graders from around the world.   The family is doing so well!  Typically the case worker has the kids start school a month after they arrive- we had them start 6 days later.  Between knowing that summer was coming in 7 weeks and our educational background (a former school Board President, a PHD in Education and a masters in Social work working in a school district that is 40% refugee ) we knew every day was precious time lost in language accusation and assimilation.



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