I spent a week in May working within refugee camps and communities in Athens, Greece.
I went with the intention of providing some much needed labour and support, but came away realising that much can also be done from afar.
While in Athens, I met an extraordinary young man called Samer who is a Syrian refugee himself. He works relentlessly to improve the presently insufficient and unacceptable living conditions of the thousands of refugees who are stranded in Athens, while he is stranded there himself, without either family or resources.
Right, now he needs a lot of help to provide food for these individuals in need. It costs only £1.50 to provide an entire day of meals for one refugee. PLEASE consider donating the equivalent of one coffee, or even one meal of your own, to feed these people in desperate need. DONATE HERE.
Samer, a Syrian refugee himself, has started the SMILE organisation, which is a solidarity movement uniting refugees and volunteers in Athens to help house, clothe, and provide food for refugees
Here are a few words from Samer about the organisation and their needs:
We (Smile) are a group of refugees and international volunteers who have been working together to help the refugees who are stuck in Greece. There are many great projects here, and they are essential, but most do not address the needs of individuals and families on a case-by-case basis. We want to change that.
The biggest issue is that most of the refugees have already run out of money. We have noticed that many of the families are not able to afford basic necessities. Parents cannot buy pampers or milk for their young children. Some are in need of medicines that they cannot afford. Some families are in military camps that are far away from cities where they can buy these necessities. Many women are traveling alone with children or are pregnant. We can help them by supplying them with the familiar and necessary supplies like juice and energy-packed foods to replenish the nutrients that they will lose throughout the day while fasting.
We have started two new kitchens, which will feed the thousands of refugees within Athens city who have sought shelter in the squats. To sustain these vital services, we will require a large pot of initial funding, continued donations to support food deliveries, and a regular stream of volunteers who can help prepare food.
We are also in need of materials to entertain the children during the long, hot days. If you can bring books, notebooks, pens, erasers, sharpeners, stickers, play-dough, craft supplies-- everything will be much appreciated by the children and their parents! You can also send letters of love and support to the children and adults.
Please show your support in whatever way you can for these people who have spent everything on their last hope for peace and safety for their families. Everyone here appreciates everything you are doing for them-- whether you are here helping out on the ground, sending money for projects and organizations, or even just thinking of them in your heart. We hope to see you all around.
Be sure to head on over to facebook to follow and donate to Smile's page and consider following the groups listed below to learn more about how YOU can help and stay informed now:
-Athens International Refugee Solidarity
-Are You Syrious?
-Immigrant and Refugee Support Group in Athens
-Lunch Time in Piraeus