It’s still happening, but it’s not big news anymore. Refugees are still flooding into Europe – especially to Greece. Nearly 13000 arrived on the islands in 2019! Here in Ireland we don’t talk about them much anymore.
It’s now 4 years since the image of of a little boy swept up on a Turkish beach motivated me to sling my rucksack on my back and head off to the island of Lesvos to do what I could to help the thousands of precious men, women and children who had miraculously made it safely across the Aegean Sea in flimsy, over-crowded boats. A life- changing experience for me!
Since then, I’ve been to Greece 8 times – the last being for 6 months. I now go mainly to Athens.
Why Athens, you might ask. Because when the people do eventually get to leave the islands and travel to the mainland, their troubles are far from over.
In Athens, many experience homelessness, hunger and total destitution.
Since 2016 I have been fundraising to provide emergency hotel accommodation, buy food vouchers, buy clothes, hygiene packs, baby equipment, blankets, tents etc. It’a just a drop in the ocean, but we can’t just stand by and do nothing! I’ve managed to raise thousands (people here in Ireland are so generous) and every penny raised has been used to help those who need it most. I pay all my own expenses when I go.
However, since returning home to Ireland last March, I am now focusing entirely on a group of Afghan people living in dire conditions in tents outside a camp an hour’s train journey from Athens. I, and some other volunteers, supply these needy people with food and other basic needs every week.
I hope to return to Greece for most of the winter, when the weather gets really cold and needs are great. These dear people need all the help they can get.