Jill’s last trip journal on Team 23 of their last day in Greece
Last day in Greece
What a trip! Not counting France, we drove 1,779 miles/2,863km and delivered aid in three countries!
Camp between a dump and compost pile
We decided to return to the Afghan camp between the garbage dump and the compost pile. We went to the big warehouse and grabbed some baby essentials. Actually, first we stopped at Jumbo — crazy, but this was the first time this trip we have been to one. Some trips you are there two times a day!
We loaded up on diapers and wipes — on everyone’s list these days. We were able to grab not only baby boxes but newborn clothing, blankets, Tide, socks, hats and mittens. There were many people at the warehouse packing and picking up items — which makes us happy, aid getting to the refugees. Some NGO had donated shoe boxes with gifts inside that are for either boys or girls and age appropriate. Our job from the warehouse was to get the age and gender of all the kids in this camp.
It was a quick drive to the camp. Our little 8-year-old translator and his buddies helped us unload the van and bring the aid to their warehouse. We asked for the list, some parents with English skills came to help translate, and soon we had a piece of paper, neatly handwritten with the name of every child, their gender and age. Exactly what we needed — 60 kids in all. It is always sad to leave a camp; the refugees are often isolated and with little or no support. This weighs heavy on our hearts and they come to us in our dreams and in glimpses of memories at odd times during the day.
Back to Athens – Zaatar aka Orange House
We drove back to Athens and a computer that had been donated had arrived at our hotel this morning, so we dropped it off at a fantastic organization called The Orange House/Zaatar. The school day had ended, so the house was full of refugee children, workers and volunteers. The computer was perfect timing as they had one of their computers die recently. This project helps and houses single mothers and children, is a resource for kids to come for classes (language classes are always very popular), and supports the LGBTQ refugee community.
The Home Project
Next we made our way to another amazing organization called The Home Project. They currently support 16 unaccompanied minors in a home-like house that has an almost 1:1 ratio teen/mentor. It was busy here too, as school had just let out. Officially there are 1,200 unaccompanied minors in Greece; THP currently only has one house, but will open three more houses for boys next month and a house for girls the following month. This is truly the most vulnerable population — sex rings have already been happening in Greece – and the ultimate goal is family reunification.
Getting these kids out of detention facilities, off the streets and out of the camps and squats is really the only way they will survive. Even with the unimaginable travesties they have endured, it is here in these homes that they will really start to fall apart, but how beautiful for that to happen in a family setting with many around to support and love you. Currently the boys are from 12 to 18 years old.
We decided to walk back to the hotel as it was such a beautiful day. Everywhere we look there are refugees walking the streets, shopping, talking on their phones, peeking out of windows from nearby squats. Lives in limbo. But away from the bombs and death threats.
Tomorrow we head back home — America for me and Canada for Amanda. Our hearts and heads are full. Our work is not done, but we did what we came to do.