we are happy to share aour Athen´s story!
Our tiny team (Ilona and Lida) visited Athens in the end of May for five days, when they helped mostly refugee families in desperate need of help.
We are thankful for great cooperation with Photene from Greek Forum of refugees!
Our trip had started few days before our flight, since we packed baby items and underwear to send them by truck. Thanks to Darek, we had been able to pick up boxes during our stay in Athens!
We are grateful for the time in Athens, not only beacuse of the work we managed to do, but also for new relations and friendships! Thank you Photene and Mahdia (our great farsí speaker!)
After we get some info about the sitaution, we did some shoping and visited families in one of the Greek camps.
Problems in camps are various, people usually don´t get proper food. We bought beans, rice, tomatotos, fresh veggies, suger, eggs…
We had the unique opportunity to visit families in need. Although their situation is different, the basic problems not.
The Greek system tries to motivate refugees to leave Greece, especially by providing meager support. Finding a job is not easy even for a Greek, permanent employment for a refugee is almost a miracle. Even the smallest children, who need to be taken care of, often hinder women’s ability to find a job.
After obtaining refugee status, they usually lose accommodation, housing support or meals. Access to health care and education for children remains, but oftenly limited.
We visited a family where the mother of four children was left all alone, due to the age of the youngest daughter, she cannot afford to go to work. Another non-profit organization helps her and her mother in a similar situation with housing. Both women now help each other. Together with her children, this brave woman also spent several weeks on the street.
We also met with families dealing with health problems. In one family, for example, they have five children, the youngest son has epilepsy. Although he has medical care, his medication often costs more than his parents can afford.
This family has both parents, but neither of them can find a job. The family thus collects paper, which sells. (This work is also performed by their minor children…)
We always brought gifts for the children according to their age! We are very happy that we can make these children’s eyes light up when they look at a toy, soccer ball, art supplies, etc.
In addition to food, we also helped by hygiene items and underwear.
Although these items are often forgotten, it’s hard to describe how happy a new underwear will make a woman. At CRS, we believe that underwear is the foundation of human dignity, which is proven by the smiles on women’s faces in particular.
We then ended the week with a so-called focus group, where women from three Greek refugee camps described to us what they experience, what the conditions are like in the camp, and what they dream about.
The description of the loss of privacy and dignity through constant movement controls, limited access to medical care and education, etc., was replaced by the hope that their children would be able to live in a safe country.
The main problem of the camps is still overcrowding and insufficient facilities. The camps are increasing their protection, which is connected with constant checks of entrances and exits. There are frequent disputes in the camps, especially due to limited access to food or hygienic facilities. In some camps there is also a problem with drinking water. During the summer months, children do not have any school activities, even when Greek schools are still in session. In short, life in the camp is not easy.