For the past two years, my friend Isabel Reardon and I have watched helplessly as the world’s largest refugee crisis since WWII has unfolded all around us here in Europe. We see photos and hear heartbreaking stories on a daily basis — and also meet with people engaged in the humantiarian efforts. In January 2016 alone, 20,000 unaccompanied children arrived in Greece.
Like so many of our friends and family around the globe, we’ve wanted to do something ourselves to help. But what?
On September 19, 2016, Isabel and I are going to Athens to volunteer for two weeks at one of the refugee camps that the UNHCR has set up. It’s known as a “Blue Dot Hub,” which means it’s been designated as a “safe space” for women and children. This camp offers vital services, counseling, protection, and recreational activities for vulnerable families — especially children traveling alone.
We’ll be working with an official project at the camp, and we’ve asked them if there are any supplies we can bring: clothes, toilettries, etc. While so much IS needed, they’ve told us that it’s better to bring with us whatever funds we can, then purchase supplies and aid directly in Athens. This will enable us to provide much more than we could carry ourselves on the airplane — as well as help the struggling Greek economy.
We know that many of our loved ones have also wanted to help in some way, and so we’ve decided to create this GoFundMe campaign. Any money you donate will go towards purchasing supplies for families in the camp — everything, possibly, from shampoo to feminine hygiene items to clothing to books to art supplies to medicine. We’d like to be able to contribute as many resources — as needed immediately on-site — as possible.
At the end of the trip, we’ll provide everyone who donates with a list of what we purchased — and the difference it made.
Neither Isabel nor I know quite what to expect — except that we’ll be working hard! We feel so lucky to be able to have the time, resources, and energy to do this. Yet we also feel morally obligated as well. For all of us — particularly us Americans — have been strangers in a strange land at some point in history. Certainly, my own family has known what it’s like to flee persecution, war, and poverty. It’s our hope that all of us together can make some small difference in the midst of this crisis — if only with a few dollars for a few days