Christmas in Leros

Pikpa in Leros hosted a special Christmas morning breakfast for its guests.  Songs and laughter echoed around the building, making it a special morning to remember.  A moment without worry and fear.  When genuine joy was seen on the children’s faces.  With your support we were able to contribute toward some sweet treats for the kids.  Thank you.

Anna also hosted some of the refugee children on the island for a movie day with hot chocolate and cookies.  As we get on with our daily lives here in the UK, we should spare a minute to remember the volunteers who are working day in and day out to provide so much support to their extended families.

Worryingly, Leros has seen some new arrivals of refugees being brought there from nearby military island Farmakonisi.  This is a worrying sign of the fragile state of the controversial EU/Turkey deal.

 

Majd from Syria reflects on 2016 and goodbyes

Tonight we said goodbye to our hero friend, ten days ago we said goodbye to our extended Greek family. Earlier this year we said goodbye to our Syrian family, relatives and friends.

Nowadays we are saying goodbye to this tough year which was full of many opposites dangerous/safe; despair/hope; sadness/happiness; fatigue/relief and defeat/glory.

We heard and witnessed many crazy things that happened in this world from the leaders of this world down to the terrorists of this world.

Waves of hatred and hate are invading our world.

And from deep in this darkness a spark of flame arises to shine in this world, the white face of the human being, another kind of people that you can touch the deepest part of their hearts with your bare hand.

Some kind of people whom you can sit with them speaking, discussing for hours without any harm. No matter what you believe in and what they believe in, no matter what your religion is or what their religion is, no matter who and from where you are .

You can sail transparently in their minds, you can see that kind of solidarity and care in their eyes. Maybe there will be differences between you and them but at the end when you will say goodbye to them you can shake their hand and you can see a smile on their face and even you can feel as your soul hugs their soul up in the sky.

Those kinds of people are giving their best (time, effort, health, even money) just to say we are here ..we are the white and bright side of the Humanity. This is how we all must live and believe. “LRCA”

(LOVE,RESPECT,CARE,ACT).

To all those people:

Merry Christmas and happy New year.

Peace on you and may God bless you all and have mercy on all of you .

Families separated

An all too common story about what has happened to many families in this crisis. Heart wrenchingly separated.  Bashar and his daughter in this story have stayed on Leros for many months in LSNs Pikpa (you can read more about this project- https://asnteamuk.org/pikpa/ ), and have recently at last been reunited with the other half of their family.

http://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2016/8/57aca60a4/right-reunion-eludes-refugee-families-europe.html

Thank you Freya

Our partners at Kings Heath Action for refugees and Bearwood Action for Refugees have been collecting colouring books to send to Greece for refugee children there. We were moved by their story about one inspiring local young lady who has been working very hard to collect hers. Moved by the plight of refugees, 9 year old Freya started to fundraise 6 months ago, making and selling loom bands, baking and selling her own cakes and running a guess how many sweets in the jar game.

She managed to raise £50 in total and has bought colouring books and pencils to send to refugees in transit for Christmas, she’s even bought her own wrapping paper and wrapped them all up!

She didn’t think that it was fair refugee children should go without a present at Christmas just because they didn’t have a home. Freya loves drawing and finds it helps her when she is upset, she said that this might help the children when they were feeling sad about all that has happened to them. Apparently she is already devising ways to raise more money!

Her mum Hannah tells us that Freya feels passionately about the refugee crisis and wants to work with children who have been left without parents when she is older. She frequently talks about setting up a home for orphans where they can live and learn and be happy again.  A truly amazing effort and we would like to say a really big thank you to Freya.

 

Ghalia

Ghalia is a young, talented and keen writer from Syria. She is resident at Leros Solidarity Networks Villa Artemis on Leros. She has written the following piece about PIKPA in Leros which shows just what a difference these initiatives are making. Ghalia refers to “Mam Matina”. Matina and her husband Spiros pioneered the solidarity movement on Leros, and its thanks to them and their campaigning that PIKPA and The Villa exist. They continue to work tirelessly everyday to support and help their extended family.

Tree charming and expressive ..

just because you chose it ..

This year we will celebrate together ..

despite our pain

and our bad memories ..

we forget everything ..

because your smile

fills the place with happiness ..

and makes us feel safety ..

Thank you for everything ..

Mam Matina thank you always and forever .. 

Volunteering

img_3046Have you thought about volunteering with refugees in Greece?  If so we would love to hear from you.  We are currently helping the Leros Solidarity Network source volunteers to work in the PIKPA refuge centre on Leros.

This is an extremely rewarding experience.  You will work on a rota pattern including mornings, days and evenings.  Main duties include helping to distribute food, baby items and hygiene items, preparing supplementary meal items amongst other things.  However a key role is interacting with the refugees, adults and children.  Some of them have been heavily traumatised and a compassionate ear and approach can make all the difference. There is also the need to occupy the children who have boundless energy and enthusiasm!  There are often other projects and initiatives running you can get involved with if you wish whilst off shift.

img_3047

We encourage volunteers to commit to helping for two weeks or more. Committing for less does not really allow enough time for training and involvement with residents and colleagues.

Volunteers are required to be financially self-sufficient as donations and resources are used entirely to support the refugees. It is regretted that we are unable to arrange bookings for you although the team are happy to make enquiries as to availability.

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Where to stay whilst volunteering in Leros

Accommodation varies depending on where you are staying on the island. Lakki is where Pikpa is situated.  Elsewhere you would need to use transport, on request.

Prices (where known) are current 08/16:

Stratos (+30) 6944707806; This is a backpacker-type hostel for as little as 10€ pp a night with excellent reviews from volunteers.

Miramare: (+30) 2247022469, (+30) 2247022053, email lerosmiramare@gmail.com. A fairly basic hotel with two sharing for 45€ a night for the room. Most reviews are fine.

Artemis: (+30) 22470 22416. Simple, but close to everything, double-room about 30€/night.

Bianco Boutique: More up-market, price unknown.
http://www.hotelnights.co.uk/en/greece/leros/bianco-boutique-hotel

If you would like to get involved, or have any enquiries, please contact the LSN volunteer coordinator using the contact form provided https://asnteamuk.org/volunteer/ Once you are aware of the dates you can offer, you will be required to complete a registration form provided by LSN.