The latest post from our Stroudies in Lesvos – this is the reality of the situation for those fleeing for their lives…
“Update on how your money is being spent…Last night there were many boats arriving from Turkey. We shuttled just under 200 people who arrived at Skala Sikaminias, up the side of the mountain, to the station where they were able get warm and dry before boarding the buses that take them to the camps at Moria, Kara Tepe and Pipka. This is otherwise a hellish walk after the unspeakable horror of the boat journey. Many had injuries from being crammed cheek by jowl into the ‘death boats’. There were many children and babies and there were many tears and hugs and alhamdullilahs. We took 16-20 people at a time… on our fifth or sixth run (I lost count there were so many) we took an Iraqi family of 18 Yezidis, a minority group who are being ethnically cleansed by ISIL in Northern Iraq. They have their own distinct religion which combines aspects of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Mithraism, Mandaeans and Zoroastrianism. The courageous man who was the head of this family told us their story in perfect English, fighting back the tears he explained how his father had given his life savings and his home to save their lives and send them on this hellish journey. His father was too old and frail to make the journey and they were forced to leave him behind. I didn’t have the heart to explain that their nightmare was only just beginning. We slept at the port and took two more families to Mytilini this morning. They were soaking wet, straight of the boat. They had missed the aid station and were walking 65 km with tiny children. A woman sat next to me with her son in her lap crying silently and holding tightly in to my hand. Shukran, shukran, shukran, alhamdullilah…. These people have been abandoned. Please keep on giving brothers and sisters. One love xxxxx”
“110 sleeping bags 30 sleeping mats, 100s of toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, towels and flannels, razors and shaving and shower gels distributed to Afghanis, Iraqis and Pakistanis waiting at the port. Its horrendous weather here, thunder, lightening and very heavy rain. 600 have landed by boat in the north today. Headed up with a now empty van to shuttle the newly arrived to the stations where they can pick up waterproof ponchos, hot drinks and sandwiches before they get bused to the camps. Thanks for your help people. So many people here thankful for your generosity.”
Our Stroudies in Lesvos posted the following today:
“… all you lovely people who have donated money and food Parcels. We made the O Allos Anthropos Kitchen (“The Other Human” Social kitchen) and the vegan kitchen at the port very happy today. Several thousand free meals and hot drinks provided today thanks to your generosity…”
So, our intrepid Stroudies have arrived on Lesvos, straight into an urgent situation: on arrival at Moria UNHCR camp on the island, our volunteers discovered that the refugee shelters provided by IKEA had no lighting! Without lighting, the shelters are too dark & unsafe to use (particularly for families). So they have put out an urgent appeal for our generous community to donate to their fund: Mission to Lesvos
Some of this fund is to be used immediately to spend locally on torches, lanterns, etc. for the shelters. Our Stroudies will be dealing with a lot of urgent situations over their time on Lesvos, so we’ll keep you posted on their experiences, those of the refugees they meet and updates on the necessities they’ll be spending the fund on. They have also delivered a van load of items from our warehouse, including men’s clothing, one outfit one child packs, sleeping bags and food. On unloading the boxes, our Stroudies were told by aid workers how great it was that our donations were so well packed and sorted as a lot of aid arrives still needing to be sorted and categorised. As all who’ve helped us sort and pack know, this is time consuming – and we don’t have to care for thousands of suffering refugees at the same time like those working on the islands…So – keep up the good work team Stroud, here and over there, every effort is worth it, every donation is necessary, every bit of love finds its target x
One more van loaded to the rafters with all sorts, and headed for Calais in the morning…
On board is –
Blankets, including some beautiful hand made and stitched peace blankets that are packed up ready to take to the Women’s Centre in the Jungle, in the hope that mum’s will get first choice of them for their kids.. Other blankets will be delivered to the ‘Newcomer’s Distribution Point’ along with the few tents and sleeping bags that we have on board – the general thing is that a newcomer is given a tent, a sleeping bag and a blanket when they arrive on site… we also have a stack of pillows on board which will either go to the newcomers area or to the family field, and a big pile of quilts which will help keep a few people warm….
Food and catering equipment which will go to one of the Free Food Kitchens on site..
Firewood, which we are hoping to be able to distribute ourselves.. thanks to everyone who contributed some bags of ready chopped firewood.
Some plastic chairs that I promised to Sofinee of ‘Kitchen In Calais’ last time I went but forgot to stick them in… this time they are headed her way!
And 2 bikes courtesy of one generous Stroudie, headed out to make someone’s life a lot easier!
I also have 900 Euros in cash… 600 of which will be given to a long term volunteer out there, Claire Moseley, for her to buy some firewood with… and the other 300 we will be spending on fresh fruit and veg for the Ashram and Family Field kitchens… the Fresh Fruit Fairies strike again!!!!!
So…today we managed to fill around 12 full boxes of the One Outfit One Child packs… took delivery of loads of brand new cardboard boxes kindly donated by Macfarlane Packaging (thanks!) so that we could now sort the adult clothing donations into size categories ready to send… took delivery of 2225 children’s wellies & boots donated by Jojo Maman Bèbe (more thanks!)… loaded up some more stuff for Calais… sorted out all the kid’s clothes into organised sizes…PHEW!
Today we loaded two full vans with donations – both going to Calais, then one heading off with two Stroud volunteers to Lesvos in Greece. We sent warm clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, food & cooking equipment, tents & toiletries. Bon voyage and much love to our Stroudies and every refugee they meet along the way.