As the Three Peas welcomed 30 new refugees into apartments in Sindos, Vassia and I made the trip to Greece to spend a week visiting all the new arrivals and to give added support as necessary.
During our visits to various families/individuals we learnt from the refugees what they are struggling to deal with right now. Through our amazing translator, Ahmad and the tireless and caring work of Akis, this was made possible. The assistance these two give makes you believe in the selfless beauty of humanity.
An addition to these two is the wonderful, warm hearted Georgia. She oversees the swisscross “Tamam Community Centre”. Thanks to Georgia we could join and help with some activities at the centre such as a picnic and playtime with the children.
One day, while we were at the Centre a splendid idea to organise a little afternoon meeting, where we would invite ‘our refugee families’ & friends was decided upon. This was truly a lovely time. We served coffee, tea, biscuits and sweets. Ladies got together chatting about their lives; children got together being noisy and playing very happily. Men were present too socialising & playing guitar and they appeared to have a great time too. It was like one huge family talking various languages and from various origins and sharing different religions.
On one of our visits to our new guests, we walked into one of the apartments where the gorgeous G., a mother with her three young children just moved in. She was very shy and not at all confident with her current situation. Her flat was spotless and well organised with the children in mind. It was obvious that she is/was very lonely and scared as she only speaks Arabic. We introduced her to the Community Centre, I took over and looked after her children and kept them busy so she could have a bit of “me time”. She drank coffee, read a book and conversed a little. She left the Centre a totally different person with a big smile and returned the following day, and the following, and the following…… J
Another touching story is of a group of 4 boys (as we call them affectionately). They are from different places in Syria and met each other during their journey, becoming a family! They have stuck together at all times and are positively trying to go forward with their lives. Each of their stories is heart breaking and while listening to them it was difficult not to get emotional and cry.
One of the ‘boys’ is just 23 years old he has been a refugee now for 6 years, during which time he was constantly on the move. We had not seen such sad eyes before. He has been through ‘hell’ in different countries and camps up until this point in those 6 years. His reason for leaving Syria was to avoid President Assad’s automatic recruitment of young boys into the army. He told us that it is a case of join the army and kill or you are going to be killed, there is no compromise. This is one of the reasons for the families from Syria sending their sons away to be safe and therefore not leaving as a family together, the son is the choice – as financially, to leave Syria as a family, is too expensive.
After our chat, we thought it would be very beneficial for them to learn at least one language as only one of them could speak English. We arranged for them a meeting in the Community Centre where there are lots of courses taking place. To our joy, they started learning immediately and not just one language! The next time we met them they appeared happier, more confident and perhaps now have a goal and a purpose of achieving something. Our feeling is that young men are often at the bottom of the list for helping whereas we really see big potential in this “group of boys.” All they need is opportunity and a small amount of assistance to make them feel of value.
During our stay, we also visited our former families who are now are taken care by the UNHCR housing program. As we know each other for more than half a year and are in constant contact, there is a special bond between us and I think we have gained new friends for life!
To summarise, we all need the same sense of peace, a safe home and stability in life. Unfortunately, this is what is missing in their lives. Not so long ago these people had all of these basic requirements. Now it has vanished, all gone through no fault of theirs. They are therefore full of frustration, sadness and though we offer all the empathy we can, there are so many questions we could not answer them when asked. All we can do is to help now at this transitional stage in their lives and to assist as best as possible in getting them back onto some form of track and to give belief once again in humanity.
Now you know, any little help makes a difference. Please help us to help them!
Thank you , Blanka