My friend Rando Wagner’s hands-on humanitarian work for the refugees in Europe goes on. To catch up, read my article about his gofundme page
He keeps collecting clothes and anything that the refugees can use, from toothbrushes to socks and other supplies and then sends them over to Germany in the “Berlin Air Bridge 2015” side of his activities. He also keeps flying to Lesbos at other times to help more hands on. Supporting his campaign is money well spent. No overhead costs, everything is transparent and your money goes directly to the refugees.
With the air strikes now also starting from UK forces we are bound to see a further stream of refugees, i.e. people seeing no alternative to leaving their bombed houses and take their endangered lives on the path to neighbouring countries and Europe – despite the dangers that lurk on that path.
This is an excerpt from a great article about how some Greeks (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/11/greeks-bearing-gifts-213404#ixzz3t8lTR96b), people from a broke country, support the refugees. Shouldn’t we do the same?
A half-dozen sunburned, chain-smoking Greek leftists, two barrel-sized aluminum vats, several gas burners with propane tanks, two folding tables, forty bags of pasta, a box of spices, a dozen car-battery-sized cans of tomato paste and a couple of three-foot-long wooden paddles for stirring soup. Within minutes, they had an outdoor kitchen set up.
“With all respect, this should come from us,” said a tall young Syrian named Basil, who was a refugee himself. He spent the entire afternoon stirring and serving soup. “We should be doing this ourselves. But I’m glad they are doing it.”
“They” are an aid group called O Allos Anthropos, or “The Other Human” in Greek. The founder is Konstantinos Polychronopoulos, a burly, bearded man in his early fifties. In 2009, when the fiscal crisis hit Greece, Polychronopoulos lost his job in marketing and communications. Two years later, at 47, he was broke and living with his mother. One day, walking around Athens, he saw two children fighting over rotten fruit from a garbage can.
“The worst thing was that people were passing, and they didn’t care,” he says. He stuck his nose and chest in the air, in a pantomime of lordly indifference. “They just looked at them and passed by”—here, he strutted off ten feet away, swinging his arms like a commedia dell’arte character, and then back—“I thought that that this was not acceptable, and horrible, and that people should care. So I decided to do something about it.”
Of all the countries in Europe, Greece is the one that can least afford to be anyone’s savior. Unemployment is 25.2 percent. Suicides are up 36 percent since austerity was introduced. Nearly half of all schoolchildren aren’t getting enough to eat. Greeks have every right to be exhausted and selfish.
The big international aid agencies focus on the 95 percent of Syrian refugees who aren’t in Europe. Greek volunteers have provided everything from housing to food, medical and legal help. Volunteers from Greece and other European countries even produced a clear, comprehensive guidebook for incoming refugees, with useful Greek phrases like “I want a doctor” and “I am from Iraq,” and translated it into Arabic, Farsi and English.
The Syrian refugee crisis first caught the world’s attention this September, when photographs of a three-year-old Syrian child named Aylan Kurdi, who drowned while trying to flee to Greece, went viral. The world moved on, but the situation on Lesbos has only gotten worse: In October, Russia’s relentless bombing campaign in Syria drove out a new wave of desperate people that peaked in mid-October.
The Greek collapse was not just economic, pointed out Efi Latsoudi, a local volunteer who has been coordinating citizen-run social refugee relief on Lesbos for years. The crisis of authority forced people to rely on themselves—and each other—to find solutions. Now they’re using those solutions to help refugees, often more effectively than the international community.
“The economic crisis was also positive for the society,” said Latsoudi. “Because we managed to create more solidarity groups. We started to look for alternative ways to be connected in the society. So there was something positive, together with all the negative things that were happening.”
Alex Assali has been serving up dishes to the city’s needy since August, building stands in different spots around Berlin once a week, often near train stations.
The 38-year-old told CBC News in a phone call that his plan had been to, “show the German people what Syrians are really like,” and to “get more involved in the German community.
Please consider giving to those in most dire need this Christmas