The days fill up here like crazy- and if you think there are plans, the Universe for sure will laugh and you’ll find yourself doing things you could not imagine! I’m staying at the hotel we stayed at with Team 8 WAY back in April of 2016- I have muscle memory as to where to drive around here and it’s so much easier in a car vs a 9 passenger van! Walked to a phone store first thing to get my Greece/burner phone loaded with minutes- no contracts, no huge bills-super easy and done within 5 minutes!
Headed to Elliniko warehouse, was going to get some aid for 2 camps we will be visiting tomorrow but the camps “needs” list hadn’t arrived so loaded my car with aid for a shelter in Central Athens. The land that the warehouse is on (the old airport and Olympic stadiums) has been sold and they will have to move. The warehouse is actually less full then in past visits and their food area is almost empty. So aid definitely is getting passed around but the thought of moving all that stuff is paralyzing to me!
Near a main government building are tents set up with hunger strikers. Day 10. I’d read about
them on various social media sights- these are families who want family reunification. What this means is that families are apart- Mom here in Greece with 3 of the 4 kids, Dad in Germany with 1 of the kids……..Dad here by himself- Mom with kids in Sweden…. Hard to believe that this couldn’t get sorted out in a matter of weeks or a few months. But some of these families are on their 2nd year being separated. And i’m not talking 1st cousins separated from 3rd cousins. Husbands,wives and children. In Europe- but not living together.
I parked the car in a parking garage and walked the 2 blocks to the shelter- Central Athens is a maze of one way VERY narrow streets. You park up on the curb if you can and you try not to knock off car mirrors when driving. Had some people from the shelter follow me back to my car and they took the aid- mostly food and not nearly enough for the 100+ people living in blanket divided “rooms”. The shelter manager asked me to have the warehouse bring winter clothes and coats. Distribution is STILL an issue here- aid is 10 miles away in a warehouse and getting it to the shelters in not always straight forward or easy. I forwarded the needs list to the warehouse manager.
Was in the vicinity so stopped by a newer outfit called Hope Cafe. Kerrie runs a free restaurant and store. Right now they are only serving lunch and have the free store open in the afternoons most days. She is needing to move the store, which is located on the 2nd floor, so that people can eat upstairs not outside as neighbors have been complaining. I’ll meet with her again on Sunday about a possible collaboration- they need a store front for the store and we need storage space to rent- could be a win win!
There were about 20 people milling about- Kerrie wanted to go to a near by coffee shop to chat and while she was trying to extract herself from the volunteers I eyed a tiny new born baby- of course I had to love on it. Mom let me hold it- 22 days old……..a perfect face in about 15 layers of clothing. Reminded me of Chinese babies whose arms stick straight out for all the layers of clothing on. There were 2 women sitting- I asked “your baby”? And pointed to one of them- “her’s” was the response. Both were from Syria- “other children?” to the babies mom. “No”. “You- babies?” to the other mom. “Yes 2, boy and girl”.
Mothers talking – universal right? Kerrie was ready to leave after about 10 min and we went to a coffee shop around the corner. Inside one of her volunteers was working with a family from Syria- both Mom and Dad are deaf and mute but the children are able to translate in sign language for them. Apparently the Dad is a very skilled stone mason. I can only imagine the stories that has brought them from Syria to Athens.
Team 34 arrived from Northern Greece about 8:30pm. Amanda my usual partner in crime/aid work and another volunteer Jennifer. They are on the tail end of their trip- going home on Sunday. We were able have a great dinner catching up, they’d just arrived from working in Northern Greece and did an aid run to Serbia. Before we knew it it was after midnight- crazy how long our days can be compared with home.