We met Janne and her Iris House team along with some volunteers from Holland at the storage area this morning. We loaded 80 strollers that had been bought with CTF funds and shipped from Athens to Chios into 4 vans- 2 rented from CTF, Janne’s and the Dutch volunteers.
We were jammed in our vans as we drove to just outside the camp walls.
Build for 800 today the number in the camp is about 4,000. It is unimaginable as when the population was 2,000 we couldn’t think it could get worse.
Well it has. Not only are the strollers needed to get around the camp, they are useful if a family wants to make the 1.5 hour walk to the city. Taxi’s are available, but they cost about $30 per way.
But the most horrific reason that we learned the families want the strollers for is so that the babies can sleep in them so that the rats and snakes don’t bite the babies while they sleep.
Yesterday the interpreter refugees who volunteer at Iris House and live in the camp went around and handed out tickets to families with children 2 years or younger living in the camp.
The distribution went really well, meaning there were no fights or scuffles. But as usual, there were about a dozen families that made up the rear of the line, without a ticket looking for a stroller. Desperate for a stroller.
Janne promised to return when funds were available to purchase more strollers. That is all she can do, and being the only NGO that distributes aid in the camp, the residents have learned that she is fair and good for her word.
After the distribution a dozen of us met at a sea side restaurant to share a meal and get to know each other. For the refugee/interpreters it is a semblance of normality that is so hard to find living in a refugee camp. For the the volunteers it is a way to get to know our brothers and sisters on the run.
After our meal we took our 2 vans and filled them with diapers from 2 different grocery stores her on the island with money donated
from CTF. Tomorrow we will distribute the children’s clothes we sorted yesterday and we will start opening the packages of diapers and putting them in bunches of 15 to hand our later in the week.
In the dark we unloaded our vans and sat down for a dinner of left overs and food we’d purchased at the store today and earlier in the week. We are about 9 miles outside of Chios and it is so dark and quiet out here.
It was a perfect way to end the day.