Ping! A Facebook notification pops in. It’s from Attika human support on the Greek Island of Lesvos pleading for aid for refugees landing there having made the perilous crossing from mainland Africa. I am sure that all of you, like me receive countless requests for charity donations of one kind or another and in our busy working lives we acknowledge the problem then move on to the next job thinking ‘I might get around to doing that later’.
Why did this request resonate with me? I think it was because Attika have partnered up with Juice Plus who are sponsoring the postage. They made it easy. All I had to do was request hygiene or clothing labels via an email request and hey presto a few days later, downloadable, printable labels landed in my Inbox. After plundering our cardboard store for boxes no larger than 60x60x60cm, I was ready to go.
The next step was to ask my good friends to raid their cupboards for warm clothing and hygiene items and lo and behold, two weeks later my living room was looking like the unloading area of my local charity shop! I was so touched as many had also added much-needed toiletries which they had gone out and bought.
Yesterday, Charlie, my daughter-in-law helped me sort it all and pack the boxes, all of which had to weigh less than 20 kilos. Picture this, how can I get the box on the scales and still see the measurement? Dohhhhh, weigh myself, carry the box and do the sum, yes, luckily, they all squeaked in. Labels attached, we rocked up to the Post Office. I was dreading this bit as we were going to cause a queue and there could be issues with the labels. Thankfully, not a bit of it! Smooth as silk, the assistant was friendly and helpful, the code reader blinked acceptance and off the parcels went in less than five minutes!
So all it took was my time and a bit of effort, plus the help of my family and friends Easy. As I’ve been turning out my cupboards and drawers for things to send I have been picturing myself arriving on that open boat, having left everything behind, not by choice — after all, who wants to leave their home? Driven out by war, famine, threat, desperate to just keep the family safe, these refugees are paying to put themselves in the hands of corrupt traffickers for the promise of a better life across the sea. Risking their lives in unsafe boats relying on the vagaries of the weather and hoping to arrive in the promised land.
To find what? They have nothing, no warm clothes, no belongings, no food. They just have each other, if they are lucky.
Lesvos is an accident of geography. It just happens to be the first landing place. Lesvos is a small Greek Island. They weren’t ready either. So they need our help, yes us in your privileged Western world. We who can raid our cupboards and send things that I bet we won’t even miss. You can make a difference to someone who has nothing. So what are you waiting for. ? Email them today !!
If you wish to find out more about the campaign, you can visit the Attika Human Support website. If you’d like to check the credibility of the organisation and find out more about them, here is their ‘About’ page:
We are a strongly committed family sending dignity and hope to every human in need on the island of Lesvos. We Love Lesvos. As the NGO which runs the largest warehouse on the islands for incoming donations, Attika plays a vital role in the distribution of humanitarian aid across Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Mainland Greece. Most displaced people are wet and cold when they come ashore, often with little personal belonging. They need warm dry clothes and shoes to survive the cold and rainy winters and lightweight clothing and shoes for the hot summer months. Most corporate or private donors who send clothes, shoes, hygiene, tents, baby needs, towels, blankets and other personal items to Greece, ship directly to Attika. The Attika team then sorts, delivers or arranges collection for the other supporting NGOs who in turn distributes directly as part of their own assistance programs. In conjunctions with this bulk distribution, Attika also daily packs and delivers specifically requested items directly to the residents of Moria and Kara Tepe camps through our open Personal Order system.