Reaching out to refugees over Easter – Day 3

  • In NEWS
  • April 13, 2016
Reaching out to refugees over Easter – Day 3
Our trip to Athens, Greece (23rd-28th. March 2016) We wanted to spend Easter in a different way this year! An Easter we will never forget, and where Jesus as the only Saviour, has become even more alive in such surroundings. For five days, a team of 8 people from Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia and Germany had the privilege in cooperation with Mission-Net, to explore the refugee situation around Athens, Greece, and get to know the service of the Hellenic Ministries (HM, serving among the most needy in word and deed. Day 3: Witnessing the reality of refugees newly arrived in Europe The next two days were spent around the harbour of Athens which turned into our most amazing, challenging, frustrating and heart breaking days among the refugees. With Daniel from HM, we drove to Piraeus and walked along the terminal E 1-4 to assist this day with whatever we could do. We saw numerous small tents pitched on the asphalt in between the various terminals, some in horrible conditions, some refugees tried to cover them with other stripes of plastic, laundry dried on fences, people running everywhere, children playing with whatever they could find. We arrived to help at the terminal E 1-4 but as the temporary camp is only six weeks old and hosts 4-6,000 people on various strips around the harbour, the situation was very chaotic. So far, there is no Christian relief organisation at hand and so we made the initial contact with the E1 leader and various co-workers. It seemed that no one really knew what was happening, when and where. Although, we waited around a lot of time and went in between the various terminals trying to find out who was in charge and who had tools to clean etc. This situation is also causing frustration among the volunteers on site and organisation briefing for such a camp seems to be lacking. In the end, we helped clean up at terminal E1 and while we did this for a couple of hours, we engaged with the community. The kids came to help and some Syrian ladies were eager to join as well! We so enjoyed meeting various people, mainly from Afghanistan and Syria, played with the children, smiled at many people and prayed for some! When it started to rain and we saw the tents flooded, one just wanted to cry with them! The situation can easily get out of hands if there is no solution in sight very soon. The media was very present and there had been major protests the day before, as the refugees called for the borders to open. Greece is working hard on establishing more permanent camps but it will take weeks. The camp around the harbour is not even a recognized one but was established out of needs from the masses of people. The situation will probably deteriorate more as refugees who are stuck at the Greek border will be eventually returning to Athens. Seeing so many children in such a primitive and seemingly hopeless situation at the Greek harbour camps of Piraeus was heart breaking and I was at the brink of tears all the time. Some children just sat around and cried their eyes out, some seemed very confused and many were just bored. The childcare in one of the small tents by a Spanish organisation, offered some colouring and crafts, but it was only able to serve about 20 children. I saw one girl (aged 4) who was given a doll and hold it like the dearest thing in the world. I met another little girl (aged 5) who showed me her treasure with a huge smile, a 20 cent piece and hold it like a gem with sparkling eyes. In all of this, I was so touched by the openness of the children and their response to love. Creatively, they invent toys from rubbish and a smile was often enough just to receive a hug. Some children just came towards us, took our hands, gave us a hug, said “I love you” and walked with us for a bit. Some had very good English and were eager to communicate.

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