Just like Zach and I three years ago when he’d finished his first year at NAU, this week Max I went to Greece as independent volunteers after Max had finished his first year at ASU. Max is going to film a video for Iris House, a Norwegian NGO based on Chios Island that I visited in Oct. 2018 and January 2019.
This is Max’s first time volunteering with refugees and he is super excited to use his video making skills to help where he can. Between a couple of trips to Goodwill, donations from family and friends and left over aid from the Phoenix Refugee Baby Shower- Max and i were able to collect 3 clear plastic Ikea Dimpa bags of aid. We also brought over a double stroller that Max had found on a curb in Arcadia with a “free” sign on it. A huge shout out to Kirk a neighbor who was able to figure out the VERY confusing stroller that had been put together wrong.
Aegean Air (TO name names) lost the stroller between Frankfurt and Athens, but thinks it may catch up to us in a day or two on Chios. We had already pre-paid for 4 checked bags so when Iris House asked if we could get some Abayas (traditional Muslim women’s coverings) during our 18 hour layover in Athens at the main warehouse and the warehouse just happened to have 2 big boxes of Abayas. We arrived on Chios with a total of 4 HUGE bags of aid.
The big warehouse in Athens had been a Olympic basketball venue- i’ve posted pictures
of the crazy amount of aid here. But I am SUPER happy to report that the warehouse currently has maybe 10% of the aid it did 3 years ago when I first visited the warehouse. It is truly amazing that this much aid was distributed in 3 year. Speaks to the huge number of refugees still arriving and those still stuck in Greece. It also should be noted that this whole area (originally the Athens airport but rebuilt as 4 venues for the Olympics) has been sold and will be developed into high end housing and shopping with sea access. The warehouse will have to move within the year.
We delivered a car load of aid to a Carry the Future (CTF) partner. We’d stored our 3 huge aid bags in Athens when we arrived early this morning. It was 3am by the time I turned off my light this morning. Thankfully i’d slept about 5-1/2 hours on the flight from Phoenix to Frankfurt! Thankful for adrenaline and Athens drivers who never let you relax!
Max and I had a couple of hours to pass so we parked near the Acropolis and walked up
for a look see. It was not an original idea but always an amazing view from the top.
Knowing that Chios’s Jumbo (a huge store that is a mixture of Walmart, Ikea and a dollar
store but the size and layout of an Ikea) was crazy small, we stopped at a Jumbo on the way to the airport. This is a right of passage for all aid workers in Greece.
Our flight to Chios was 25 minutes, a prop plane and beautiful views as we flew and landed during sunset. With only 1 gate, Chios airport is a step back in time. As you walk down the steps of the airplane to the tarmac and walk the 30 so odd feet to the airport building, the door is filled with locals meeting arriving friends and family. No TSA, no security.
Just smiles and cheers as loved ones enter the area.