Team 27 is seriously on fire……..we were able to do 2 days of camp visits in 1 day, which freed up our schedule to do a quick run to Athens. Of the 6 of us, 2 had never been to
Athens and well, it was so close and there were baby beds that could be delivered so we decided to do a quick 2 day/1 night trip down to Athens.
The drive down went super fast (less than 5 hours)- previously there was a 10 mile section that was thru a mountain pass, 2 lanes and always backed up. Since January they have opened the tunnel that takes at least an hour off the trip. The roads in Greece are beautiful- with 10 tolls between northern Greece and Athens are a small price to pay for pristine roads and amazing views.
We stopped at a camp about 2 hours north of Athens. This camp is located in an old holiday resort that now houses refugees but also has sulphur springs that tourists come to take the waters in. Such a juxtaposition to see the modest head scarf wearing refugees next to the eastern European people in 2 piece suits and Speedos. I will not be providing pictures of this, you can use your imagination.
If there was a theme to this trip it would be “diapers”. This is what every camp needs and is desperate for. If the camp is luck enough to have Red Cross or Red Crescent representation 7 diaper for a week are handed out. For.a.week. Imagine a new born- with only 7 diapers to last the whole week. No hot water to wash clothes in, no wipes.
Thankfully CTF is literally on the cutting edge of what is happening and has been holding diaper parties around the world where people can come to bring diapers for local refugees resettled in country, and donate to CTF for trips like ours which can deliver these diapers in almost real time.
We will purchase diapers tomorrow and deliver them on our way back to the North of Greece to this camp.
After we drove straight to an Afghan camp that I have visited the 4 previous times i’ve been in Greece. I had a love connection with these people, families, now friends who occupy the 17 rooms the 1st time I visited a year ago. We learned today that the building was originally used in the 1940’s to house refugees after the WWII. Last year a man and his wife from Germany visited and the man had been a refugee in this very building when he was 3.
The children have all grown! Most everyone is still here 1 year later. One of the 110 residents has gotten job with an Athens based NGO as an interpreter. The children have been in Greek school since October and while this is not home, a feeling of settling permeates the building and it’s inhabitants. For those of us who have been to camps literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hay fields- miles from the closest small town. This camp nestled in a little sea side town almost seems bearable.
We had a couple hour visit- everyone was able to sit for a cup of tea and coffee with different families. The children were our interpreters and they would run from room to room telling us where the others were. The sense of community is real here- parents working very hard to make this situation as bearable as possible for the 60+ kids who call this home.
We left with full hearts, but hoping that these lovely souls can find a home soon. We stopped off at the Temple of Poseidon- so beautiful, perched on the sea side with views of the Mediterranean.
I could never get sick of these views!
Our hotel was buried in the bowels of Athens, we finally found the hotel after a couple of rough starts and stops via Map Quest. We parked the van in a parking garage to keep the baby bed aid safe and loaded into taxi’s to go to dinner- Athens at night shines. The streets are bustling and alive with voices from around the globe. Dinner was beside some ancient ruin, illuminated and proud.
Back home Max had #1 of 2 proms he will be going to while I am away. His girlfriend Nadia attends another high school and so they will go to both. He was kind enough to send me some photo’s of the night-