Tag Archives: Greece

Having a meltdown!

I’m sitting in Cairo in the midst of a meltdown. Yes! It’s damn hot and humid, but the bigger issue seems to be the political meltdown at home in the USA, across the Mediterranean in Turkey and Greece, and on the other side of the planet in Venezuela.

The whole world seems to be falling apart; instability is wrecking the lives of millions.

Maybe the heat is effecting my brain and I can’t think straight. Things used to be so much simpler, so much clearer, so black and white.

Now I really don’t know what to make of it all.

  • The U.S. election in November appears to be shaping up as a contest between an egomaniac, fascist, misogynist dolt on the one hand, and a smart cookie beholden to the corporatocracy and Wall Street interests (aka the 1%), and the military industrial complex that has brought ruin to every corner of the planet. What appears clear is that voters in the U.S. have been shoehorned into making a decision in November which won’t turn this ship of state around. No real democracy there.
  • The failed coup attempt in Turkey this week has generated so many conspiracy theories that my head is spinning. Did Erdogan stage the coup? Did the US/Israel/Saudi have a hand in fomenting the coup? Did a Muslim cleric residing in the U.S. orchestrate the coup? Or did the military simply say “enough is enough” and take things into their own hands, albeit rather clumsily? Social media is abuzz with innuendo supporting all of the above. What appears clear is Erdogan is now taking advantage of the failed coup to round up (execute?) thousands of his opponents. No real democracy there.
  • Venezuelans are running to the border with Colombia to buy food!  No food or medicines on the shelves in Caracas, no money in the state treasury, oil prices plummeting. It appears clear that the bus driver turned President Maduro has no support and no options for turning his failed state around. No real democracy there.
  • The refugees I met in Greece are stuck in limbo, a world not of their making or desire, but trapped nevertheless because life in a wretched camp is preferable over death at home. What appears clear is that their future depends on the generosity and empathy of nations willing to accept the refugees, but now the borders seem to be closing. No democracy there.
  • Egypt. Well all of my notions about democracy flew out the window in July 2013 when the military coup ousted President Morsi. Some Egyptians try to justify the coup by pointing to Morsi’s mistakes. No doubt, he made many, but in a true democracy, the voters can oust the fools from office at the ballotbox, not with guns on the streets. What appears clear is that thousands of Egyptians are “disappearing” into the prisons and cemeteries while the streets remain calm. No democracy there.
  • The hopes and dreams == the very lives == of many friends in Gaza are being squeezed out of them, day after day, by the deliberate actions of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the U.S.  A friend in Gaza told me “I want a new world, a new life.” I’m ashamed of my country. I’m ashamed of the apparent Democratic nominee for President and her “democratic values”, and I’m ashamed of our complicity in all of these wretched meltdowns. What appears clear is democracy is a term of art with no substance.

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Democracy has about as much meaning as the term “terrorist” — overused to the point of nonsense. Truly Orwellian.

FUCK Democracy!  The experiment failed. Time to admit it and create something new. Seriously!

 

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Refugees deserve dignity!

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News on local TV channel in Greece

They’re stripped of their country, their livelihoods, their homes, possessions and often their families, but they shouldn’t have their dignity stripped from them too.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, estimates that as of 2015, there are approximately 21.3 million refugees worldwide, more than half of them under the age of 18. UNHCR’s database is a sobering reflection of the magnitude of the refugee crisis now, as well as over time.

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Afghan refugee in a camp on the mainland of Greece

I abhor the notion of disaster tourism, and had to think long and hard about my motivation for traveling to Greece to witness this unfolding tragedy. When the opportunity came to join a small group (Operation Refugee Child) that was distributing donations from the U.S., I decided to join them, not to gawk and snap a ton of photos, but to learn about the realities of this crisis and share what I learned with others. Maybe together, we can all make a difference. (Read my ideas for making a difference at the end.)

There are approximately 45+ official refugee camps across Greece, and likely many unofficial encampments. I visited 5 very different camps on the mainland. The common denominator among each was the large number of children.

An alarming number of children are traveling alone. If they survive their harrowing journey, most will miss at least 2 years of school, maybe more, which will have serious long-term impacts on this generation.

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Each refugee has a story to share and most want to share and be heard.

The NGO organizers in one camp we visited are hoping to bus the children to the community schools in September to help them learn Greek and get acclimated with Greek children and the Greek educational system. In 2017, their goal is for these children to attend school full-time. I suspect this particular camp sets the gold standard in planning for the children’s educational needs. Although education is a basic right, most refugee children will not be so fortunate.

Some camps appeared more organized than others, even conducting elections for representatives to the “Resident Council” – a sort of democracy under a dictatorship one person explained, but all of the camps are a work-in-progress. Most have just opened in recent months, and there was a definite feeling that each is struggling with growing pains. I learned that there are international standards for the construction of refugee camps, but I have no idea how these camps in Greece measured up against those standards.

One camp was located on acres and acres of concrete without a tree or any vegetation in sight. Hundreds of shipping containers were lined up row after row, and the refugees were queuing to await the distribution of food boxes, very near to a huge pile of food scraps. The place was filthy and many people (old and young) had skin rashes. Refugees have reported problems with mosquitos and snakes. A refugee told me the care at the clinic onsite was very poor. A Syrian dentist said he would like to help but he needs basic dental equipment.

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A smaller refugee camp was spread out beneath the shade of trees with tents self-organized into smaller blocks of “neighborhoods.”  As we arrived, a truck was delivering porta-showers and porta-potties. A big improvement over the situation in the early days of the refugee crisis last year when thousands of refugees arriving on Lesvos Island had no facilities and were living, eating and defecating on the streets in Mytilene. The Greek government was very slow to respond. A local resident told me that the international NGOS and volunteers were the best first-responders to the crisis.

Many of the refugees have spent months in little tents and I wonder how the loss of privacy and stability has impacted them. I sat with one family whose newborn (only 45 days old) was laying on a blanket on the floor next to a small fan. The mother gestured around to the disheveled contents strewn on the floor gently chewing out her husband for bringing strangers to their tent under these conditions.

The controversial EU-Turkey deal signed on March 20 has slowed the number of refugees arriving in Greece, but they’re still coming and the needs remain as urgent as ever.

On MARCH 20th the European Union signed a deal with Turkey which was meant to help stem the flow of refugees making their way to Europe. As part of the agreement, any “new irregular migrants” who arrived in Greece after that date would be sent back to Turkey. In return EU member states will accept one Syrian refugee from Turkey for every one sent back, and speed up visa liberalisation for Turkish nationals.

I heard some animosity about the EU-Turkey agreement from refugees, volunteers and even Greek citizens. It’s certainly not popular. I met a young man from Pakistan who said his brother had been returned to Turkey and is now sitting in a jail there.

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Charging cell phones is a 21st century necessity.

Who is in control?  That’s the question I tried unsuccessfully to answer during my short visit to Greece. We entered a couple of refugee camps and found no one in charge, although the UNHCR signs were visible. The Greek military was ostensibly in charge at one camp, sitting lethargically in a military jeep observing the food distribution line, but it was difficult to rouse them to respond to a riot breaking out on the other side of the camp.

At another camp, there were some Greeks wearing official-looking vests sitting around smoking, but a refugee came up and told us that if we handed over our supplies to the Greeks, the refugees would never see the donations. Corruption, at least at that camp, was a problem.

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An American woman, Director of Operations for DoYourPart.org, is the matriarch of one of the smaller camps we visited. She stressed that Colonel “SomeoneorOther” was actually in charge but the residents (not called “refugees”) in the camp were like her family. She clearly was a professional and knew what was needed and how to get it done. If she could be cloned and sent to every camp in Greece, I suspect many of the problems we saw would be remedied.

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In my last couple of hours on Lesvos Island, I ducked into a neighborhood bar-cafe to escape the brutal sun. Four young men in the corner were also cooling off and recharging their cell phones. I walked over and asked if anyone spoke English. They all nodded, and I asked if I could sit down and talk with them. They’re from Pakistan but only met each other on Lesvos Island. They shared their treacherous journey from Pakistan to Iran to Turkey and finally to Lesbos. One man said he only ate 4 of the 21 days of his journey. They showed me pictures on their cell phone of people crammed into the trunk of a car. Now they’re waiting for their papers so they can move on.

I walked to the Port and boarded my ferry back to the mainland.  I watched as the security personnel checked every vehicle, underneath, on top and inside, for stowaways. They caught four refugees, handcuffed them and put them into a paddy wagon before being deported. I’ve learned about the harrowing risks that many refugees take, and I’m outraged about how our refugee system is failing the most vulnerable when they need our help the most.

What can Americans do? 

Many of us want to help but the magnitude of the crisis might seem overwhelming, and whatever we might be able to do is but a drop in the ocean. But remember what Mother Teresa said: “It’s a drop in the ocean, but after this drop the ocean will never be the same again.”

I put that question to a bookstore owner on Lesvos. When she saw the flood of refugees on the streets of Mytilene, she wanted to do something for the children. She set up a Facebook page asking for donations of toys, and soon had boxes and boxes of toys from all over the world arriving at her doorstep. She and a couple of friends distributed the toys directly to the children, and received tons of smiles in return.

She had to pause and think. What can Americans do to help? Then she told me that Americans should be pressuring their government to end the wars in the Middle East. We need to look at the root cause of the problem. What’s driving millions of people to flee their homes and risk death?

  1. Educate ourselves about the refugee crisis and the root causes; then educate others, and then urge Congress and the President to end America’s involvement and support for wars in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. We should also be pressuring the U.S. government to accept a greater number of refugees seeking asylum.
  2. Support others who are working on the ground in the hotspots like Lesvos Island and in the camps on mainland Greece. One such organization is DoYourPart.org. Another is Operation Refugee Child. Be careful. Not all NGOs are created equal.
  3. Volunteer your time and talents on-site. Review this orientation document prepared for people who are thinking about volunteering. Check this list for specific tasks and experience needed. If you’re a lawyer/advocate, consider volunteering your services to the refugees seeking asylum. Check out Advocates Abroad.
  4. Pray or meditate in whatever tradition works for you. Keeping these refugees, especially the children, in our hearts and minds will help focus energy and goodwill on this crisis. (I know this sounds crazy to some but I believe there’s power in our hearts if we’d only learn how to tap into it.)

An American architect has designed and presented a plan to the United Nations and the Greek government to build sustainable, short-term housing for the refugees.  I saw his presentation at a conference in Rome in June.

An innovative project to help manage the refugee crisis has recently been proposed by Richard M. Economakis, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the University of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, and is now under consideration by officials of the United Nations, the European Union and the Greek government.

Economakis proposes the creation of temporary refugee villages on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Kos and other Mediterranean sites where refugees first arrive in Europe. The buildings would be constructed of sun-dried brick — or adobe — which is inexpensive, locally available and easily and quickly produced and assembled. A typical village, arranged in pinwheel fashion around a central square, would include 800 housing units, each accommodating up to 10 people, making for a total population of some 8,000, approximately equivalent to the number of refugees now arriving on Greek islands daily.

Refugee Brochure, English - Adjusted

We can each make a difference. We must try!

 

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4 observations after 3 days in Greece

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Young men watching soccer (futbol) game in Patras, Greece.

Three days in Greece is not enough time to draw any conclusions about the refugee crisis or even much about the state of affairs in this economically bruised and battered country. So I’m only sharing observations.  Opinions and conclusions will come later.

Observation #1 — Every other block in central Patras has an empty storefront. Patras is the 3rd largest city (pop. over 200,000) in Greece and a major commercial port tying Greece to Italy and Western Europe, but there’s a tangible feeling of melancholy hanging over everything. I rode a city bus out to the city’s southern neighborhoods and found the same. At least one vacant storefront on nearly every block. There was also evidence of alot of deferred public maintenance visible along the sidewalks, streets, parks and public plazas. On two different occasions, a young child came up to me asking me to buy their trinkets. Old men were walking around selling what looked to me to be lottery tickets. I saw many men and women in my age bracket (60+) out in the public spaces hustling their fellow Greeks, not tourists. I couldn’t understand them, but their despair was clear.

Observation #2 — The Communist youth group in Greece opposes the government’s plan to legalize cannabis for medical/health purposes. Why? Because they believe the government’s motive is to make the citizens stupid and control their heads. The pamphlets they distributed included information about the growing movement in the U.S. to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. One organizer told me in her broken English “Capitalism is bad” and I sensed from her perspective that if the U.S. was doing it (legalizing marijuana) then it must be bad. I watched members of the group making their signs, setting up the sound speakers and trying to organize a rally with music and speakers. Their youthful enthusiasm reminded me of Occupy Wall Street, but without the critical thinking. It was such a dismal affair, with very little interest from the public and the musicians didn’t know how to do much more than strum a few bars and do “mic check” for more than an hour. I decided to take a bus ride and return later, but by 9:00 pm I called it quits.

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Mural in Patras, Greece

Observation #3 — I met a young Greek man (29) back home on vacation from London where he’s living now and cooking. He’s a trained chef. He says he can make good money in London, even after paying rent and “living with dignity.” He’s saving money and wants to return to Greece in a better position. The current economic crisis in Greece is “very complicated” he told me. A combination of corrupt Greek politicians and civil servants who defrauded the citizens, as well as Germany and the EU blaming Greek citizens for being lazy and stupid to elect such idiots in the first place. Now the pensioners have been hit hard, their monthly stipend from the government has been greatly reduced forcing many into poverty.  (This report from Sept. 2015 – Greece: A Perfect Storm – confirms the pensioners’ hardships.) When I asked him what he thought about the future, he said he doesn’t know, but he has to be optimistic. He loves his country. We were sitting on a bus riding from Patras to Athens on the second most dangerous road in the country, he said. Every few miles there was more road construction work. “We’ve paid for this dangerous road to be fixed for many years from our taxes, but it was never fixed. The politicians stole our money and didn’t fix anything.” I asked him where those politicians are now. He smiled and shook his head. “Probably hiding somewhere.”

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Metro Station in Piraeus, Greece

Observation #4 – Many friendly people have helped me along my journey in Greece. I’ve been very fortunate traveling in this new territory, not knowing the language, and always finding my way. Today I took a bus from Patras to Athens (3+ hours), then a city bus in Athens to the Metro station, then a subway to one stop where I transferred to another subway, and finally to my destination in Piraeus. While transferring from one subway to another, there was a great deal of jostling as the doors were about to close. I sensed that something was not right, and pushed my way through. Fortunately, there were plenty of seats available. Then I noticed a compartment on my backpack was unzipped.  ++DAMN!++ My phone and glasses were still there, so I chalked it up as neglectfulness on my part. Some women sitting across the aisle from me were very agitated and talking loudly and rapidly. One was holding a small black bag that had been thrown through the subway window and landed on her head. She feared it might be an explosive. I looked at it and realized it was my camera bag!  Earlier I’d removed my camera to take some pictures, so the bag was empty. Without a camera, apparently the pickpocketer had no use for an empty camera bag and tossed it back into the train. The women told me that there’s alot of crime in Athens now because of the migrants. There isn’t enough security or police because the public payrolls have been cut. Just last week, one of the women had her cellphone stolen right out of her hand. They told me they were sorry it happened to me but this was a good lesson and didn’t cost me anything. They cautioned me to be careful with my things. I asked them how have things changed in Athens in the last 4-5 years. In unison, they each said crime has risen and the city public spaces are dirtier. They attributed both to the arrival of the migrants.

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Old men in Piraeus playing a board game — probably Tavli.

 

 

 

 

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One Ferry + 100 semi-trailers

 

I truly didn’t know what I was in for when I rode the bus to the ferry terminal in Brindisi, Italy.  I had a reservation and knew the time of departure and the destination. Patras, Greece.

brindisi map to patras

The ferry terminal is surrounded by a large industrial zone, and all I could see when I got off the bus were lots of semi-trailer trucks, very large semi-trailer trucks. Hundreds of them. I couldn’t see any passenger terminal. I was the only passenger on the bus and I wondered if he’d dropped me off at the wrong location.

I found a security guard and asked him “Grimaldi?” as clearly as I could.  Grimaldi is the name of the ferry company.  Late afternoon in southern Italy is hot and everyone takes a siesta.  I was lucky to find the security guard.  He pointed in one direction so I started walking.  Lots and lots of pavement and enough semi-trailer trucks to fill many football fields several times over.

Well, the reason I didn’t spot the passenger terminal when the bus driver dropped me off is because I’m short and semi-trailers are tall. I couldn’t see past them, but indeed there was a passenger terminal off in the distance.  (Why didn’t the bus driver drop me off over there?)

There were a few other passengers inside the terminal, mostly Italians I think.  And a couple of families.  We were allowed to embark at 6 pm.  I asked the clerk where to find the ferry because I hadn’t seen it in my hike across the sea of semi-trailers. He smiled, and spoke good English, and said “It’s the only boat out there, and it’s really, really big. You won’t miss it.”

Again, it’s all a matter of perspective.  If you’re a small woman, and everything around you are tall trucks, you won’t see the horizon or any large boats.

Maybe I should have just waited for the handful of other passengers and followed them. But they seemed to be more interested in sitting and talking (Italian? Greek?) so I started walking again in the direction of the water. The ferry had to be somewhere near the water.

After passing a row of semi-trailers, I spotted the water and the ferry, the very large ferry. It was gleaming white and I counted 6 or 7 floors (or decks). How could I have missed it?  It was huge.  As I got closer, the ferry got larger and larger, and noiser and noiser. I found my way onboard all by myself. The other passengers were still in the terminal I guess. I was directed to the 6th level up an elevator, and put my suitcase against the wall.  Then I went out on deck. (I never leave my backpack anywhere …. that stays with me!)

For the next 3 hours, I watched the crew direct traffic, loading the semi-trailers onboard one-by-one. It was carefully choreographed, each driver following directions from the crew, except for one who wanted to cut in and promptly got chewed out. They were very tightly packed together. It was amazing to see.

The passengers watched on deck with me but shortly after we got underway at 9:30 pm, most of the passengers disappeared.  Undoubtedly, they had reserved cabins. I peaked inside one of those cabins — pretty swanky furniture and beds.

I’m traveling on a shoestring (a single shoestring) and there are no cabins in my budget. I went to the bar and found many of the truck drivers. These guys come in all sizes, but mostly large, like their semi-trailers. Loud voices, Italian and Greek I suspect. Gruff appearance but acting like big teddy bears. And most of them were glued to the soccer game (futbol) on the television on the wall.

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I took out my book (Carlo Levi’s “Christ Stopped at Eboli”) and started reading. There were a couple of other women in the sea of men, but they looked like wives or girlfriends of the truckers and no one was speaking English. I was definitely a fish out of this water, but I enjoyed the sense of camaraderie and cheering. Their team was doing well.

About 11:00 pm I went up to the bar, waiting for my turn to buy a beer.  I asked the trucker next to me “How much?” … not sure if he would understand me. He spoke broken English, offered to buy me a beer because truck drivers get a good discount on the ferry. I thanked him and we clinked our bottles with a “salud” before retreating to our chairs.

Ferries aren’t the best place to sleep, unless perhaps you have a cabin. I dozed off in my lounge chair for about 4 hours until the loudspeaker announced at 4 am that we were arriving in Igoumenitsa, Greece. I went out on the deck and watched the activities as the ferry came into dock. Some motorcyclists and trucks disembarked, along with a few of the passengers.

I suspect one of the truckers overslept because they kept announcing his name over the loudspeaker and telling him to go to his truck immediately.  (In 4 or 5 different languages!)

We arrived in the port of Patras, Greece about 4 PM Sunday afternoon.  Very hot and bright, bright light.  I disembarked from the garage level along with the semi-trailers, a very intimidating experience.  I walked alone across a sea of pavement again until I arrived at the passenger terminal. (They really should designate a pedestrian path to the terminal at least instead of making us compete with the semi-trailers.) I wouldn’t be surprised to learn about pedestrian fatalities at these ferry ports.

Outside, sitting at the bus stop with two young men (an Italian and an Iranian), I saw a group of 4 or 5 young men run past. They were very thin, drenched in sweat, looking in every direction as they ran across the yard in front of the terminal. A few minutes later, I saw another group run across.  My companions at the bus stop confirmed for me, they were Syrian refugees hoping to find a way onto the ferry.

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Lora  & Iranian young man & Italian young man sitting on bus with curtains in Patras, Greece

Within 15 minutes of landing in Greece, I’d met my first refugees.

 

 

 

 

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A drop in the ocean

 

I’m sitting in a small loft in the old city of Brindisi, in the boot heel of southern Italy. Brindisi is a very old port city. The famous Appian Way from Rome ends here. The ferry will take me to Patra, Greece on Saturday. I’m going to Greece to learn about the plight of the refugees arriving there.

I don’t speak the language (any language except English) and I don’t know where I will end up. Trying to put myself in their place, which is impossible of course, I can sense the feeling of fear, isolation, and desperation just below the surface. If I had no home to return to, no U.S. passport to give me some measure of legitimacy, and no resources (credit card), I would panic. I don’t think I could be as brave as most of these refugees.

Thousands of refugees are dying in the Mediterranean Sea trying to make it to shore in Greece or Italy. Why? Why must men, women and children run such risks in this 21st Century instead of getting on a plane and flying somewhere safe? [I’m looking for the answer; haven’t found it yet.]

In April 2016, Pope Francis visited the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos Island. He returned to the Vatican with 12 Syrian refugees from 3 families, all Muslims. He acknowledged it was only a drop in the ocean, but “the ocean will never be the same again,” he said.

I met a newly-wed couple from Germany last week on their honeymoon in Rome. We talked about many things, including the large numbers of refugees coming to Germany. They believe Angela Merkel’s intention’s are good, but she hasn’t followed up with good planning or organizing to fully integrate the new arrivals into life in Germany. They told me about refugees setting fire to their camps out of anger and frustration. Germany has accepted more than a million Syrian refugees, a staggering number compared to the rest of the EU and certainly the US.  [Migration to Europe explained in 7 charts.]

The United States has accepted only 3,127 Syrian refugees in the past 5 years. Although President Obama promised to accept an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees this year, only 1,300 have made it through the tight screening process in the first half of 2016.

On September 20, 2016, Obama will host a Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis and urge “significant new global commitments to: 1) increase funding to humanitarian appeals and international organizations, 2) admit more refugees through resettlement or other legal pathways, and 3) increase refugees’ self-reliance and inclusion through opportunities for education and legal work.”  I’m curious how he can call for such action when it appears the U.S. is not stepping up to the plate. [I want to research more about the U.S. actions on the Syrian refugee crisis, particularly since the U.S. is responsible for so much of the devastation forcing Syrians to leave their country.]

As with climate change, it appears that the frontline in responding to the refugee crisis is at the local level, and cities are taking the lead.  The March 18 EU agreement with Turkey is abominable and is evidence (at least to me) that answers will not be found at the state-level (whether in the European Union or the U.S. federal government).

At its core, the agreement aims to address the overwhelming flow of smuggled migrants and asylum seekers traveling across the Aegean from Turkey to the Greek islands by allowing Greece to return to Turkey “all new irregular migrants” arriving after March 20. In exchange, EU Member States will increase resettlement of Syrian refugees residing in Turkey, accelerate visa liberalization for Turkish nationals, and boost existing financial support for Turkey’s refugee population.

There is hope.  Even before arriving in Greece, I have learned of two examples which might be the bellweather for successfully responding to the refugee crisis. [I will know much more after I visit Greece.] Both examples come from the individual, not government.

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Somer Sood – Operation Refugee Child

Operation Refugee Child was started in 2015 by a small group of mothers in Orange County, California, USA. Since then, they have achieved the following:

  • Created an organization run entirely by a team of five volunteers.
  • Developed a network of local contacts throughout Europe and the Middle East.
  • Received in-kind donations from corporate partners including Nike, Patagonia, ClifBar, CubeBot, Happy Baby and LuminAID among others.
  • Raised over $250,000 for purchase and delivery of supplies to refugees.
  • Distributed 5,080 lbs of aid supplies in 2016 including:
    • 2,480 backpacks
    • 800 thermal underwear and wool sock sets
    • 311 winter coats
    • 192 LuminAID solar pillow lights

I’m hoping to meet up with them in Athens at the end of the month, visit the camps with them, help them distribute backpacks to the children, and learn.

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Pooya volunteering with Emergency Response Centre International on Lesvos Island

The second example is a friend of a friend from California who is currently volunteering on Lesvos Island.  Pooya is a rescue team leader with Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI).  Check out his gofundme fundraising site here.  I hope to meet him on Lesvos Island and learn.

My friends ask me why?  “Why are you going to Greece?”

The short answer is the same answer I gave when they asked me “Why are you going to Gaza?”

I want to see with my own eyes, hear with my own ears, feel with my heart, and learn about the refugee crisis on the ground. What I learn may only be a drop in the ocean, but the ocean will never be the same again.

 

 

 

 

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