This week the organisation Stand By Me Lesvos has been dropping off and picking up loads of laundry for the residents inside the Mavrovouni Camp on Lesvos. Our long-term team members are here working and facilitating the project. As the strict lockdown continues in Greece we are grateful to be able to help in any way we can and are looking forward to being able to re-open our other projects in the near future.
One of All4Aid’s first initiatives was to provide paperwork support to people seeking asylum in Frankfurt, Germany. We were a small team of volunteers, plus one part-time employee from the Middle East, who assisted those who needed help preparing CV’s, searching for accommodation, filling out job applications and organising translation for medical and legal appointments.
One man we assisted was the director of an NGO in a country where there is little religious freedom. He fled to Germany fearing for his life after the police broke into his office and confiscated his computer and other documents because he was a Christian. Through the financial support of Junta de Missões Mundiais, one of our long-standing partners, we were able to assist this man in Germany and even cover the legal fees for his asylum case.
We just recently heard, that after almost 3 years, our friend has obtained permanent residency! We really valued being able to offer these services in Frankfurt and still love hearing how these small acts of kindness and support have helped people in the long-term.
As the year draws to a close, we are reminded of and led to reflect on everything we experienced in 2020 at All4Aid.
One of the most exciting moments: Seeing the successful implementation of our Resident Volunteer Programme, through which 20 women and girls could serve alongside us at our centre to support their own community in Moria Camp.
One of the saddest moments: The passing of our dear friend Herbert Keller, one of our long-term team members and former coordinator of the Living Timber Project.
One of the most tense moments: The breakout of violence on Lesvos, which eventually led to our entire team being temporarily evacuated from the island in March.
One of the most frightening moments: Waking up to the news that Moria Camp had been burnt down overnight and not knowing what had happened to our friends and people we knew inside.
One of the happiest moments: Being reunited with our Resident Volunteers after the fires in Moria, knowing that they were safe.
As we look back at 2020, we want to thank you very much for journeying with us through each of these moments and events through your ongoing encouragement, prayers and support!
Today, Greece enters a new nationwide lockdown for the second time to contain the resurgence of COVID-19. For the next three weeks, all citizen’s movement is restricted and all non-essential businesses will be closed.
The lockdown has a big impact on our operations. No one will be allowed to leave the perimeter of the camp, the bus company we use as a shuttle to and from our centre will not be allowed to work, and our team will not be allowed to distribute shower and laundry tickets inside camp.
Therefore, our centre will be closed for the next three weeks and our team will be taking a well deserved break. We hope that these three weeks will be enough to contain the spread of COVID-19, so that we can re-open our centre as soon as possible and continue to offer the vital services which are so needed.
It’s been a couple of weeks since we started our new initiative of distributing shower tickets in camp and shuttling women and children to our centre. Among the many who came to our centre this week, was a young woman. She came up to one of our short term team members, started playing with her hair, and began to talk about her interests and dreams. The young woman expressed her ambition to study Art. Our team member shares: “When she spoke she was really proud of herself. I felt in her voice the passion and the hope and the love to really live her life.” She shared about her desire to be in Athens one day and how being in Europe makes her feel that she really has the opportunity to pursue her dreams.
Her family arrived on Lesvos only a few months ago from Afghanistan via Turkey, like so many of the families we meet here. While they were speaking, the young woman was also able to teach our team member some words in Farsi. Our team member emphasised how important it is for her to learn some basic phrases in their language. She says, “We can show our love and our energy and that we want to help just by smiling, but it’s really special to be able to say something to them in their language.”
We love having these moments with the women and children who come through our doors on a daily basis. It encourages us all to have these conversations and to see the happiness and hope that so many people exhibit, despite the immense difficulties they have had to endure.