Danielle shares about how the mission to send desperately needed supplies to refugees in Lesbos began with a little help from Tom Cruise! Whilst out in Greece with a GAiN volunteer team one of Danielle’s friends got in touch to say that he had an idea for how we might be able to get some bigger, better tents to the people who are facing winter with inadequate shelter.
This project started when Lizelle Pieterse (with GAiN South Africa) had a heart to mobilise people within South Africa to respond to the pockets of poverty on their door step. This desire has now grown into a vision to give children who are living on the margins and would otherwise have been forgotten, a fighting chance at life.
It was a lot to take in at once and as we got to know people it changed so many things about how I saw the Refugee Crisis. Going in I had a “Headline View” of the Refugee Crisis, when I came back I had gained the “Human View.” I realized that the Refugee label had kept me from seeing those seeking refuge as people. I recognized that a Refugee is not a kind of nationality or citizenship, but a season of life and a journey.
For three years, 1,500 displaced people, primarily from Mosul, called a half-finished building in Erbil, which became a refugee camp, home. This Christmas, the tall skeleton of the building was empty: after Mosul and its surrounding area was liberated, most of the families returned to their hometowns and villages, and have started the long process of rebuilding.
These are the words used to describe the temporary living quarters for thousands of refugees who have fled their homes and find themselves on the island of Lesvos, Greece. The summer surge of new arrivals means the camps there are accommodating well over their capacity. Life looks increasingly bleak as tempers fray in crowded quarters, and temperatures overnight drop to near zero in tents which are already struggling with the wind and rain.
When I learnt about the horrible situations faced by Iraqi and Syrian children in refugee camps, with no access to education and at risk of exploitation, I knew I needed to get my community, my university, involved. At GAiN we partner with local communities in this country, to make sure that people living in these camps can have hope for their future by meeting their needs today.
Early in July our project team once again went to Cluj-Napoca for the third year running. A team of 12, made up of students and recent graduates, spent 10 days working alongside the local project staff who are focused on changing the future prospects for the next generation of Roma gypsy children living next to the city rubbish dump. Emanuel who was returning with the team for the second time shares his impressions of the project.
On 7th April, our group of nine volunteers with Agapé Student Life came from across the UK to Thessaloniki, to join the GAiN project not knowing fully what to expect. We arrived to a former army airfield, and the first thing we saw was a children’s playpark, something that none of us expected. As we began a quick tour, it was clear that the children were the life and soul of the camp – and often a source of much entertainment.
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