Well, cold and windy doesn’t begin to describe how we started the day! “Hurricane Force” and “Freezing” are more appropriate. 3/4-ths of Team 51 made it on time to Greece yesterday. The 24 hour travel time is numbed with time as the travel day progresses. Jen missed her connection in Germany- never a dull moment traveling.
Making the most of all of our time in Greece, Tom and I ran to the Ikea by the airport to grab baby training toilets. We were able to purchase their whole inventory of 37 potties. Some brilliant angel on a CTF team thought it might be a good idea when she saw how many size 6 and 7 sized diapers teams were purchasing. Bathroom facilities are rarely good in camps, besides the safety issues, traversing darkened walkways with a toddler who “HAS. TO. GO. POTTY. NOW.” cannot be easy. We would be visiting a camp later in our 10 day trip and wanted to get this task crossed off our to do list.
We returned to the airport to pick up Cielle who had flown in from the WA. The 3 of us drove the van to the center of Athens to deliver a Dimpa of baby carriers and the potties to where CTF has their storage. Inside of “Love and Serve Without Borders” (a fantastic NGO that is run by a dynamo Kenyan woman who offer classes in their multi classroom facility) CTF has a storage space . Maria and her team were just wrapping up a long day of English classes led by NYU students on Winter Break- not partying in Mexico, but doing aid work in Athens. Maria offered us tea and cake and the 15 or so of us went around the circle telling a little about ourselves. Our ages ranged from 17-65. From around the world with one common thread. Seeing our brothers in sisters in their greatest hour of need and being able to help.
We returned to our AirBnB near the airport – met the landlord’s sister, dropped our bags and followed the sister to a nearby restaurant. Our 1st Greek salad of the trip. Tired and jet lagged we returned to the rental in time to see Jen arrive about 11:00pm. We all quickly retired to our rooms as we had to be up at 4:30am to catch a 7:00am flight to the island Chios.
Like a well oiled team, we were out the door at 4:45am and at the airport and settled behind security eating Greek yogurt and spanakopita within an hour. The prop plane was full as we flew the 45 minutes in the dark, in a rain storm East towards Chios. This is the island I was as at in October with Sara – one of the 4 islands smugglers launch their boats filled with hopeful refugees from Turkey. We were going to spend the week working with Iris House, where Sara and I spent our week. Except their landlord had
shut the doors on this amazing Norwegian based NGO Nov 3- so Iris House, not deterred moved their work into containers located at a storage facility near the airport runway. We spent the next 5 hours working sorting aid for distribution tomorrow. Women’s winter wear was sorted into sizes and bagged and we knew each piece of clothing donated would find a new home. All the while the rain was going sideways.
As we were finishing- the rain stopped and the sun began to peek out. The sea was
roiling – Turkey was visible in the distance. White capped waters framing where so many start their journey to a better life. Safety. Hope. For others this becomes their final resting place.
The team of about a dozen of us went to a near by restaurant and spent he next 2 hours getting to know each other. Asking questions and listening. The stories and dreams came from 18-22 year old Afghan and Iraqis young men. Most who had made the crossing on their own. Hoping to be reunified with a brother, sister or aunt already settled in the EU. They volunteer like us- to help their brothers and sisters. Bringing light in a very dark place.