Lesbos – A day in Kara Tepe (2)

Sanne helps out in Camp Kara Tepe. Here is the sequel of her story.

“During the night shift there is a lot of time to talk with the residents. I like taking time and really listen. I am talking to a man who is Yezidi. He was able to flee together with his family, but many of his friends and fellow villagers have been killed by IS.

Then there is sudden shouting. I quickly run that way and see that there is a man on the ground, unconscious. My colleague is there too and helps the doctor by using his flashlight to see. We get the man blankets and put something under his head. He is experiencing a horrible flashback, screams and cries and then loses consciousness again. I sit next to him to reassure him in English. The ambulance is on its way and we cannot do more than continue talking to him. No idea if he hears us… After twenty minutes the ambulance arrives and he is taken away.

Two days later I am on another nightshift. A man comes to the fence and I recognize him as the man who had the flashback. He tells me he escaped from Moria and was told in our camp that he had to return again. This just got to be too much for him. He got away now to thank us. Very sweet, but I told him this was not necessary and that we were glad we were able to help him. I also told him he had to go back to Moria and that he could not stay in Kara Tepe. He nods and walks towards the exit. From the corner of my eye I see him sneaking into the camp. Manos (the night guard) and I turn a blind eye…

Lesbos – A day in Kara Tepe (1)

Sanne helps out at camp Kara Tepe on behalf of Boat Refugee Foundation and reports about her work in two sequels.

“I am glad I get to work in this camp. We have two different shifts: an afternoon/evening shift and a night shift. During the day we hand out the food together with a group of residents, shelter by shelter. No long lines here, everyone gets fed within the hour. That is one of the greatest things you can do. Especially if you get to hand out meat. Because that’s not on the menu every day and people are extra pleased with that.

I also work in clothing distribution. Families make an appointment at the ‘store’. After they tell us what they need, we get three items of each and they get to choose. It gives a good feeling if you are able to grab that one item with which someone is super happy. Unfortunately that is not always the case, because there is a shortage in some clothing. Luckily, after some searching we usually find something and the families leave with a new outfit they are happy with.

Time for supper. With a group of residents I go back into the camp and distribute the food. While handing out the oranges I have to pass a ditch and I slip. All the oranges are flying through the air! The residents quickly come to help me. They are really concerned and I am immediately relieved from carrying the crate myself. After the distribution we clean up the ‘store’ and prepare it for the next day. Then they nightshift comes to take over and we go home.”

Photo: Margreet Ruiter

May 7 2015 – May 7 2016

1 year Boat Refugee Foundation!

How could that be reason for celebration, you might say? And justifiably so. To celebrate that you are in existence for a year, as an aid organisation, somehow feels a bit off. But then again, we can celebrate the help we were able to give this past year:

800 volunteers working, letting their hearts speak and rolling up their sleeves on Malta, Lesbos, Kos, Leros, Samos and in Athens and Idomeni. We were able to help tens of thousands of refugees with their first shelter, clothing, a place to sleep, food, drink, relaxation, medical care and personal attention. A warm welcome in the midst of all despair!

40 employees ensure that all teams in Greece are able to do their work well. That the planning is correct, the volunteers are being screened and prepared, that the supplies are all in order, the boats are able to head out, the teams are complete, that everybody does what it expected of him or her.

This way, we all contribute to the well-oiled machine which is now the Boat Refugee Foundation. From a small group of volunteers to a professional organisation with a firm foundation. Of that we are super proud!
Our annual report for 2015 is nearly finished. It was a hell of a job, it being a first time. We hope to put it online next week.

Thank you for your support this past year! Will you continue to follow us? Now that we will go full steam in 2016 to offer a helping hand to refugees?

Dutch Remembrance Day – When freedom costs you your life

Tonight we commemorate the victims of war. For the employees and volunteers of Boat Refugee Foundation that were or are active in Greece, this Remembrance Day will have an extra layer. The war came really close. The consequences of worldwide conflicts, in particular in the Middle East and Afghanistan, can be seen daily in our work. We also remember the many boat refugees that lost their lives at sea this year, or on their way to Europe.

We got this movie from Arianne Kattenberg. Last April she was on a medical mission via Doctors of the World, one of the alliance partners of the Boat Refugee Foundation. Together with this organisation we work in Camp Moria.
Arianne Kattenberg: “This film is about the dreams of refugees and their right to speak their minds. Now Europe decides their fate. Unfortunately this violates a great number of human rights and the situation is horrible, also on Lesbos. I want to send this message to the world so the more times this gets shared, the better. Together we must stand firm for this.”

Athene – Just to be child again for a moment

Evelien travelled for Boat Refugee Foundation to Elleniko in Athens and tells her story.

As soon as we get off the bus at Elleniko, children run to meet us. Whilst three volunteers walk around the camp to get the children, I walk around with our automatic bubble blowing machine. The children love it. They all try to get close to pop as many bubbles as possible. A father carrying his young son of about two years old joins the fun, and we laugh at his little perplexed face as a bubble pops on the tip of his nose. From the corner of my eye, I even see some older women laughing, and grabbing bubbles. It is a great success.

After, the children get to crawl through a caterpillar tunnel, one by one. Young and old; they all love it. The youngest ones are hesitant at first, but soon they also crawl through the tunnel, encouraged by the other children. Then playtime is over and all the children sit down in a row. We hand out cups and fill them with water. They deserve some refreshment after all that playing in the sun.

I then join the drawing and colouring. Another volunteer receives a drawing from an older boy. The image is clear; a rubber boat, filled with people, and next to that a large vessel carrying the Greek flag. Very intense. It is at those moments, when reality kicks in, that you realize everyone made such a journey. And how vitally important it is that these children can be a child again, because of what we do…

Photo’s and story: Evelien Florijn

Will you continue to support us? We really need your help!
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