NPLH Greece Volunteer Trip – Donate for Essential Aid
It’s finally time to go back to Greece to do my little bit. Since I’ll be there on my birthday (and Mother’s Day – cue the violin strings), I thought maybe I could get away with a birthday fundraiser. Funds will be put toward essential items (clothing, hygiene items, etc) for refugees who have fled to Greece to apply for asylum. I cover my own travel expenses, so $1500 will go a long way. Thanks to two very generous donors, I have a $200 head start. As such, the fundraising goal for the trip is $1300. The Facebook campaign will end May 14th. We also have off-Facebook options for donating.
Our team has done a lot of work from home since the last trip. We’ve collected, sorted, and shipped a lot of clothes for distribution in camps, nearly reaching the 1 ton mark. We’ve sold a plethora of beautiful handmade items to support refugee artisans, and even funded shipping for a container of bikes. It’s time now to go back, help local volunteers, refresh connections, learn current needs, and supply local teams with aid to distribute.
So many of you have donated MULTIPLE times (and also volunteered!), and we are so grateful for all you have contributed. Donor fatigue is setting in, no doubt, but I truly believe the community we’re building has the potential to make a real impact. Even if you can’t wrangle up funds to donate, my ask is that you pass this on to others who might be interested.
More details for the deep-divers:
Refugees most commonly enter Europe by paying smugglers for passage across the Aegean (to Greece) or the Mediterranean (to Italy). The ones that arrive in Greece leave from Turkey on a dingy or old boat, and if they get past the coast guard, they land on one of a handful of Greek islands. They’re not allowed to leave the overcrowded islands for some time, and they can’t leave Greece until they are approved for resettlement or family reunification in another European state. Tens of thousands are in Greece, waiting out their cases. This situation creates a lot of needs, so it can be tough to decide where to go with limited time and funds.
I’ll begin with a short stop in Athens, where I’ll help independent volunteers administer aid to vulnerable cases; people who have fallen between the cracks. Independent volunteers do whatever needs to be done – find shelter, find food, help with legal issues, etc. They have no admin fees and no salaries to cover. Every penny is spent on aid, so I’m really excited to see what we can accomplish with some extra funds.
I’ll spend the balance of my time working with a well-established local volunteer team on the island of Chios. They provide a range of support, including sorting clothes, distributing aid within the camp, meeting new boat arrivals. They also offer programs for children and families living in the camp there.
“Are You Taking Donations With You?”
While I’ll likely take one bag of carefully chosen donations from our inventory (probably underwear), it is, at this point in time, more cost effective to buy needed items in Greece. We’ve begun incurring huge customs fees on our packages, so you’ll likely see us shifting our focus away from shipping and toward fund raising to buy in Greece. It’s just a much better way to use your valuable donation money, and we always aim to support the Greek economy where we can.
Let’s Make This One Count
No matter what happens, the time I volunteer will be a contribution. However, it’s our organization’s sincere wish to make a bigger impact, by supporting the work of small organizations in Greece. If you have any questions at all about who I’ll be working with, how money will be allocated, or anything else, I’m happy to answer them. Transparency is important, and there’s no textbook on this situation.