Update from Sammamish PC given at July 18, 2017 presbytery meeting:
Refugee Crisis Update: Donations Urgently Needed to Replace Facilities Lost in a Fire
On July 10th a protest at the detainment center in Moria led to a fire that resulted in almost a complete destruction of EuroRelief resources on site in the detainment center/refugee camp. Both the “buildings” and contents of the buildings were burned to the ground and now EuroRelief has been left no facilities nor supplies to minister to the 3000 inhabitants of the camp. Funds are urgently needed to replace the destroyed infrastructure. Here is a more detailed update from the EuroRelief leader Kim Garrity.
“As for needs, we lost our whole office, with computers, printers, as well as wrist band and ID cards. Many volunteers as well as our translators lost their back pack with passport, phone, wallet. The translators that were living on the office area escaped with the shirt on their back. The clothing store and container we're destroyed as well as the new sewing lab, with four industrial machines, and the computer lab. We lost all of our sporting equipment, including the volleyball net, boxing mitts and bag, all balls. The evening tea was served from there, so we lost our tea pots and all supplies for that. Smoke damaged all our stock of blankets, sleeping bags and tents. Our tools were mostly destroyed, starting over there, too. Both hand tools and electrical and cordless. Most of the walkie talkies we're saved, as they were on us at the time. But 90% of the chargers were burned in the fires. Fortunately, our warehouse off site, full of clothes, was unaffected. We are compiling a good list, for donors, prioritizing what we need. It is best for churches and individuals is to donate money, and specify which item, rather than buying it in North America and trying to ship it over.”
Ways to Donate:
Crowdfunding Campaign: www.YouCaring.com/Eurorelief-877187
Donate or send a team of volunteers:
Other ways to help:
Donate to the UNHCR www.donate.unrefugees.org
Buy a product to fundraise and promote awareness:
Buy a bracelet made out of refugee lifejackets worn during their crossing to Greece: (These benefit both the refugees and the suffering islanders of Lesvos.)
Buy a welcome mat or table runner made out of lifejackets:
Sammamish Presbyterian recently teamed up with Greater Europe Mission to send a mission team to volunteer at the Moria Refugee Camp/Detainment Center on the Island of Lesvos in Greece. With only four miles of water to cross between the island and Turkey, Lesvos has become ground zero for refugees trying to reach the EU. The NGO we worked under at the camp is called EuroRelief and they are the NGO with the contract to run the camp on behalf of the UN and the Greek government. While it is technically a military run detainment center guarded by Greek police, EuroRelief does the all work of distributing the food, blankets, clothing, and manages the living arrangements within the camp. While about half the asylum seekers are Syrians fleeing the war, everyone who gets caught trying to get into Europe gets detained and processed at this facility so over 40 different nationalities were present within the camp.
For the manpower to staff the camp of 2200 asylum seekers on a 24 hour, 7 days a week schedule, EuroRelief relies on a constant rotation of volunteers from a wide array Christian ministries such as YWAM, Greater Europe Mission, and I58. These organizations send teams of church members and college students as well as solo individuals from all three North American countries and Western Europe. The core job description of the volunteer work at the camp comes straight out of Matthew 25. “I was hungry and you fed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was in prison and you visited me.” While on shift at the camp, our team did many routine tasks such as monitoring the entrances of the various the housing units, distributing meals, making hot tea on a cold night, and escorting those that needed medical attention to the volunteer doctors on site.
Probably the most important ministry we provided beyond meeting the basic physical necessities was to be a sympathetic ear and an open heart as the refugees shared their incredible stories of survival and loss. Most of them have experienced a great deal of tragedy and hardship by the time they arrive at this camp and are often deeply traumatized by those experiences. It was critically important that we volunteers made sure theses survivors realized that they are cared for not forgotten by the rest of the world. While no proselytizing is allowed in camp, volunteers are able to have meaningful conversations about whatever topic the individual refugee desires to bring up.
One of the great surprises for our team was the incredible hospitality and care the refugees showed us in return. Even though most of these individuals had lost so much and had so little in the form of resources, our team was constantly treated as guests of honor and offered the best seat by the fire or a portion of whatever food was being passed out. Our female team members were often escorted by male refugees from place to place to make sure we stayed safe. Our entire team would most likely agree that while this mission trip was one of the most heartbreaking experiences they had ever felt, it was also one of the most rewarding mission trips they have ever taken. Our church plans to send another team to Moria next spring and to search out opportunities to help with the refugee crisis here at home as well.