Update and reflections on our hygiene pack project in Leros

Working with Echo100plus, we have funded the very successful hygiene kit program in Leros for the past year. A tailor made pack of hygiene items (toothpaste, washing powder, shampoo, sanitary items etc) is given to each family in Villa Artemis and Pikpa every fortnight.
It was great to spend some time with the team at Echo100Plus and be a part of this in Leros earlier in September. It was busy in Echos Hub centre when Matt was sorting out the items and packing the bags, labelling each with the family name. 
Then it was all hands on deck to load the van to drive over to Pikpa. As we got out the van at Pikpa, you could hear the excitement build from the children as they were aware something was happening. 


The hallway became a bustling hive of activity. Many of the residents have been at the centre long term so are accustomed to the routine of life there. Rooms are numbered and we delivered some bags to the rooms of people who were not in the hallway. 
The look of gratefulness in the eyes of the recipients was enough and everyone who received a pack expressed their gratitude.
As Pikpa houses the vulnerable, the centre has taken on a number of families from nearby islands which lack the infrastructure to accommodate them. This coupled with the recent rise in numbers of new arrivals to the eastern Aegean islands means that Pikpas headcount will increase which will in turn increase our cost on this project.
The monthly cost for a family of 4 is around £15. 
Would you like to sponsor a family? You can sign up easily and securely with charity checkout or just giving.

https://asnteamuk.charitycheckout.co.uk/

https://www.justgiving.com/asn-teamuk

You can also check out how to apply to volunteer with our partner Echo100plus https://asnteamuk.org/volunteer/

From Pikpa, Leros

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Sunday breakfast in Pikpa

Last week in Leros, we spent some time in Pikpa.  This building was restored solely on donations and was opened in the Spring last year by Leros Solidarity Network with the help of their supporters.  It continues to provide refuge for the most vulnerable refugees on Leros.  It currently has around 100 residents- the elderly, unaccompanied children, and families.

As you walk around the building, you can hear the echos and shouts of the childrens laughter, its a really special place.  The military have taken over control of the supply of meals, and breakfast normally consists of little more than a slice of bread.  Each Sunday, the LSN team with the help of their supporters, provide a tasty breakfast full of treats.

You can feel the excitement build in the atmosphere as the team of volunteers prepare the table ready for distribution.  A banana, some sweet cereal with milk, a carton of fruit juice, and a chocolate croissant.  The kids bustle to be front of the queue, and cheekily tell you there are more people in their family than there are to try to trick you into giving extra!  However many of these people have been stranded in Leros for some time, and the long term LSN volunteers have built up relationships with the families living there, so they are accustomed to the cheeky ones!  The older residents wait patiently in line for their turn.

Thanks to your support, we were pleased to be able to help, and purchase the breakfasts for the 2 Sundays we were there as well as a few extra supplies.p2

Ive heard so much about the deep psychological issues that some of the refugees have been suffering from since the EU/Turkey deal, and being stranded on the island, but to see it for myself was another thing.  It broke my heart trying to talk to people who have lost all sense of hope and ambition in their lives.

Arrivals into the eastern Aegean islands have vastly increased over the last couple of months, and many of the nearby islands lack the infrastructure that Leros has to accommodate these people.  While we were there, we heard of a large number of children and their families being moved to Pikpa on Leros from nearby islands.  There was some concern about the numbers, so thanks to your support- we were able to help and purchased 10 buggies in preparation for their arrival and for use in Pikpa and the islands hotspot.

We also heard that the hotspot on Leros had reached capacity (800) and rumours of tents being put up to accommodate extra numbers.  This is concerning as many of the large aid organisations have left the island.  Whilst this number may seem small, the number of refugees on Leros is about 10% of the islands total population.

Our close relationships with the teams on Leros with LSN and ECHO100Plus continues, and we will write about our work and time with ECHO100Plus next week.

There are still so many needs and people needing help, and we are committed to reaching as many as we can.  We need your help to continue to do this.  We have set up several ways that you can donate to help refugees in Greece to make it as easy for you as possible.  If you can spare a little, please help. https://asnteamuk.org/fundraising/

 

Reflections on Athens part 2

7th September 2017


I was too tired to write yesterday when I got home. There is just so much to do for the refugees here and never enough time. It’s clear that there is a lack of funds and volunteers to help as the needs are so great. Many organisations are just getting by week by week, but they make it work with what they have. My hat goes off to the volunteers I have met, who literally work around the clock to try and help in the desperate situation. One of those is Kerrie from Hope Cafe which is one of the projects we are supporting. They were desperate for food supplies and thanks to people’s generosity- our charity was able to fund this shop. We discussed a project that I hope our charity will be able to support which will provide a pack of basic essentials for new born babies and their mothers. I also met with a guy heading a group supporting LGBT refugees. This vulnerable group of people need extra support due to their situation as they see discrimination and difficulties on many levels. I’m hoping that our charity will be able to support their outreach work. It’s amazing to see the small difference we are able to make, and how grateful those in receipt of it are. I’m off to Leros now- the tiny island which sunk under the crisis in 2015 and continues to struggle with it. Arrivals of new refugees have increased since the beginning of August. The hotspot detention camp where they are transferred to is full. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can help more here. But we need your donations to continue to do so. If you can help a little, please check out our fundraising page to find out how.

https://asnteamuk.org/fundraising/

Reflections on Athens

I’m in Greece on a self funded trip visiting the projects we are supporting. My first few days were spent in Athens, and I wrote the following after my first day there. Joel.

Just home and on a bit of a high after an amazing but also very humbling day in Athens. I spent the morning with an inspirational young Syrian man who told me his story which I am going to write up for him. He told me how and why he left Syria, how his father still lives in a town under siege for 3 years now where food is dropped in by air. He told me how he can’t look at photos of his father now as he looks so old, wrinkled and thin. Imagine if the tables were turned and that was you or I. Then it was on to the orange house- one of the projects we support. We went shopping for 3 weeks supplies that thanks to the generousity of our supporters-our charity paid for, and we got it all into the car…. just!  This will provide food for not only the residents but also for people who use the drop in facilities of The Orange House. It was amazing to spend time in The Orange House. To see the children laugh and play- maybe they are too young to understand what they have endured and the hardship their family is going through. The refugee crisis is off our news, but it is still very much ongoing, and arrivals into the Greek islands (which are all well over capacity) have been picking up again over August. If you do something today, spare a minutes thought about someone who had no choice, but to leave their family, their home, their life. No choice but to get into a crammed flimsy rubber boat and head out into the sea at night with nothing but the lights in the distance to guide them, or to stay at home and face certain death. This is real, and it’s happening now. Make a difference- https://asnteamuk.org/fundraising/

Painting the Orange House!

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Anyone who has been involved in teaching or training will know just how important it is to ensure the environment of the classroom is right to make the learning effective.  Well the team at the Orange House recognised this, and we were really pleased to be able to recently fund paint for the classroom to be redecorated.  Its here that a variety of classes are held in various topics for not only the residents, but other refugees who use the venue as a drop in centre. We also provided funding for the living room to be decorated.

Marina who runs The Orange House said how much it needed to be freshened up after a year of tiny hands touching and drawing on the walls!

Its thanks to your support that this was possible.  Thank you.

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The past 7 months…

Thanks to your amazing support, over the past 7 months we have spent over 12 and a half thousand pounds in supporting refugees in Greece. From provisions of food and hygiene items, to vital aid and essential support. From projects to help restore dignity, to medical needs. From clothing, to helping support safe spaces. And we’ve kept our administrative costs to only 3%. You can be confident that if you donate to us, it is having maximum positive impact, and it’s only with your donations that we can continue to do this. You have helped many people through the projects we’re supporting. Thank you from all of us at ASNTeamUK. Why not sign up to our blog on our website to be first to read our updates when published and see where you’re making a difference. http://www.asnteamuk.org