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.
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/