Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I have watched for years now as people pick up a clipboard, put on a badge and a vest and turn humanity into a business using people seeking refugee or help as a commodity for business. I see the intolerance and impatience shown to those merely asking for help. I hear the numbers being called instead of a name, I see the queues been formed for the daily conveyor belt of something resembling food to be handed out without even looking up, the muted or very sharp conversations being held through wire fences with those seeking assistance on one side and those with the option to help, usually with hot coffee in one hand and a G4S security man beside them, on the other side. I see the woman fighting to do her best for her child. She has fled war and unimaginable atrocities so standing her ground to get what she needs is not going to deter her and certainly not by the person with the clipboard who has now donned a pair of disposable gloves and a surgical mask because the child’s hair is not shiny, or her nails are not clean or the clothes she is wearing have certainly seen better days.  Or the man with his wheelchair bound mother who he has just pushed up the steep incline of Samos camp as her name had been called out over the inaudible tannoy system, just to be told by someone he is too late and come back tomorrow. So we sit with them, if possible get them what they need, play with the child, ask their name, make a cup of tea for the woman in the wheelchair and promise the man we will come back to help him the next day…because this is what I would expect someone to do for me or mine…

There are always people in need. Although many of the problems of the camp are the same and not something we can fix, there are also individuals. They are people not just numbers en masse! Different stories, hopes, dreams, nightmares, needs, problems, worry concerns. There are medical problems, psychological problems, family problems, there are bad days and good days, there is the hopes dashed, the little hope left for the next interview, the chance of a phone call from home after weeks and weeks. There is the sadness at the death of another family member back home, the joy/sadness of the birth of a new baby whom you may never get to see. There are daily concerns of not having enough to feed your children, the embarrassment of having to ask for sanitary products that may be needed on a day not allocated for them. There is the annoyance of being handed documents in a language you don’t speak and without an interpreter present to help.

We have come through yet another cold wet winter together and will now face into a hot, humid Greek summer. The camp residents are still “living “in canvas tents or in metal container boxes. The heat inside in the summer, as opposed to the freezing cold and wet of the winter, is unbearable. Some of the containers have 20 to 25 people inside; it is the kitchen (for those with a one ring stove and some food), the bedroom, the living area…. It is a tent or a metal container. There is no dressing it up as anything other than that. There is no privacy, little hygiene, no comfort and no way for people to be forced to live for a month or a year. As with previous years, we will be surrounded by hundreds of mosquitoes, the water will be off regularly in the camp, there is little to no shelter or shade from a scorching sun, except of course over the NGO and authorities area of the camp.

We now have a rise in the number of new arrivals. These numbers for sure will rise even further in the next few weeks. Our youngest in the camp at the minute is a beautiful one month old little girl. We have more children coming each week. We also have people in the camp who have now entered their second year of these living conditions… 12 months of living in limbo for daring to ask for help, 12 months of separation from loved ones, 12 months of not knowing if today you will be sent back or someone playing God decides you can live again, but  will decide where…

Because the weather has improved, our café nights are now back to a more social aspect with people finding a chance to sit together and talk. During the wet nights, we literally went tent to tent or container to container to offer at least a hot drink for the terrible nights. Now we are back to juice and games for the children, and groups of adults being able to sit on stools ( there are no stools or chairs in the camp to sit on except for the ones we lay out on these nights) and speak to us, to each other and enjoy a decent cup of coffee with dignity.

But last summer was also the time when these café nights became the place for the new arrivals to integrate into the camp with a bit more dignity than is offered when they first arrive and  given a blanket, a bottle of water and a number stamped on their hand and told to find a tent. Summer time is also the time when the smugglers make most their money by overcrowding not fit for purpose boats leading to many lives being lost at sea. For those of you who have been with us for a while now, even from afar, you will remember the posts we had to write regarding the funerals of the 3 little children, or the families torn apart and lost at sea, the young girl left alone as the only survivor of a shipwreck, the fathers forced to decide where to bury their wives while trying to tend to their grieving children. The nights we sat cradling young distressed children who had witnessed the deaths of loved ones at sea or the night we finally retrieved the bodies of a father and son lost at sea days earlier and so much more unbearable memories.

So we will continue, Derek and I, for a little while longer on this journey with them. Many of you have travelled with us, offered support, at times financial at other times emotional, moral, and physical, some of you since Gaza some of you since Greece. And we need you again, we don’t brandish clipboards or masks ( we do have a to wear a badge for ID in the camp) , and we have always relied on the kindness and support of you all. If you still believe in us, trust in us, we ask for your help once more but desperately and urgently. Our funds are diminishing but the need for help has not.

Can you help, Will you help once again? We have options for donations, PayPal, Go fund me or email us for bank details. We do not spend money on administration; we spend your donations totally on the needs of those you have offered to help. Our expenses are covered by ourselves and are kept to an absolute minimum.  Your support too in sharing our posts, following us online or just staying in touch is also immensely important to us.

So once more, please donate /share /support to help us help those we can.

20161111_141959

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhg

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by

Derek and Jenny.

“Nowruz Pirouz”!

images (4)

We had the honour last night of celebrating NOWRUZ with friends in the camp in Samos, Afghani, Kurdish, Iranian. Nowruz is a traditional festival ,  commencing the start of the spring. It is considered as the start of the New Year among Iranians along with some other ethno-linguistic groups and marks one of the most important holidays for so many. The name comes from Avestan meaning “new day/daylight”.

As those seeking refuge dream , pray and long for their families back home, their old lives, a brighter future , It is important they can carry on their cultures and traditions. Any of us, All of us, who have left home by choice, for economic reasons or for personal reasons have the duty to integrate but also an absolute right to remain who we are by tradition and culture, beit through our religion, our food, our dance or our festivals and holiday’s, and none more so than those who  have been driven from their land through fear and war.

The flow of the night was led by those celebrating, we merely were friends handing out tea and coffee, joining the dancing, listening to the stories and feeling a part of a new experience. Many mentioned their sadness at not being at home for the celebrations but many also thanked us and others for allowing them to remember their culture, giving them a platform to celebrate and sharing it with them. We were honoured to do so.

On our behalf and on theirs, Thank you for your support and your donations which allow us to share these moments.

https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhg

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by

 

 

“The basic guiding principle in any child care and protection action is the principle of the “best interests of the child”. Effective protection and assistance should be delivered to unaccompanied children in a systematic, comprehensive and integrated manner.

Definition

An unaccompanied child is a person who is under the age of eighteen, unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is, attained earlier and who is “separated from both parents and is not being cared for by an adult who by law or custom has responsibility to do so” * {UNHCR Executive summary general principles 1997}

At any one time we have between 25 and 40 unaccompanied minors inside the RIC ( The camp here in Samos). They are not offered enough protection, they are not secure in any one area of the camp, they are living amongst the general population and are extremely vulnerable young people. They are all young boys at the moment. The younger children , the female minors and some of the male minors are house outside of the camp but numbers in the shelters are limited.

While they are , like a million teenagers the world over, arrogant and overconfident at times, hard work and moody, once time is taken to speak to them, become a friend as well as an “elder figure” their demeanor and characters change. They are scared, lonely, hurt and in the end….just children.They will spend hours scrolling through pictures of their families, their mama, sister, best friend, their homes, school pets. They will open up and tell you stories that haunt their eyes and will haunt your sleep. They weep for home, for structure, for support , for their lives back.

Many were sent alone by family members hoping for safety and refuge for their children. Parents believing and praying that a dangerous sea journey, an unknown country, is at least a chance of life while staying behind is almost certain death, incarceration or a forced joining of a war not of their making. Some did not start out as “Unaccompanied” but the said perilous journey, the borders, the depths and dangers of the sea, the running, the cold, the thousands of people, the numerous camps in numerous countries has led to separation in one form or another. Some have become orphans along the way.

Now think of their families, their mama, their father…

The despair they must feel for nights on end when they can not make contact. Hoping someone is looking after or at least looking  out for their child. Is he hurt? Is she hungry? Has he a bed? Is she safe ? Are they alive?

We have focused a lot of our attention this mission on these young people. We , thanks again to donations , supply a full weeks shopping to supplement their diets. Archipelagos Institute of Marine conservation and their supporters and students generously supply us with additional fruit and veg each week. The weekly shop consists of pasta, rice, fruit, veg, tuna/sardines, milk bread etc… We try to vary but supply healthy options. We are also limited due to their basic living conditions. We have supplied a two ring cooker, a kettle, pots and frying pans also ( Verligboerne friendly humans samos) We have given them quick and basic instruction on cooking meals.

We are proud to know these kids, be able to at least check in on them daily. To say hello to their mama on a whatsapp video call, to reassure their parents that , at least for right now, they are ok…not great… but OK.

Tell them they are not hurt ( physically), they have food, a bed, and someone to talk to… that their children are alive.

We hope to continue doing whatever we can. We desperately , they desperately, need your help in these days. .

To offer your support, and please do, continue to read, follow and share our updates. To offer financial support as we aim to continue here on Samos , options for donating are below.

GO FUND ME:https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhg

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by    Paypal

Or email/pm for bank details.

As always, your support , in all forms and all amounts , is greatly appreciated.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facing a harsh world, hatred, bigotry , xenophobia is an exhausting challenge that some must face more regularly, more fiercely than the rest of us. It is a challenge both physically and mentally as well as emotionally and can break even the strongest of characters. Add to this, the lack of a safe place to call home, the relief you could feel to go home, face your fears within the solace of your family , be rested and warm and have a chance to build up your strength from within yourself.

or,

Imagine looking day and night into the eyes of your wife, your mother , your child. Their eyes dark and vacant, searching to you for an end to hurt and pain, the cold and all you can offer them is another blanket or a chance to stand in a queue for a hot drink. This is the life, and much worse besides, for those who have come to seek refuge in the camps of Europe. And what have we offered as solace? barbed wire, tents, cold cabins, paperwork, delays, muddy fields, jungles, queues and months and months of detention.

In Samos this week, we have had rain…lots of rain, thunder, lightening and cold. We have hundreds in tents with water seeping up through the ground sheets. Their “homes”are held in place with rocks  and stones. Each break in the weather, the blankets and clothing are thrown across the fences to drip dry, the shoes are piled high outside and the chance is taken to once again open the zipped doorways of the tents or open the shutters on the iISO-cabins to allow some air in to dry them out. There is no reprieve from the hard life, no chance to recuperate, to feel safe yet. And all this is while waiting…and waiting…and waiting , for months, for an answer as to when someone , somewhere makes a decision on your future.

We try to do what we can, but we are not so arrogant to believe it makes much of a difference. We give what we can, we offer offer what assistance we can, sometimes all we have is time… time to sit, talk,  listen. We continue to run the night time cafe  ( which we run with the “Friendly humans group, Samos) although depending on weather, it is sometimes a delivery of tea and coffee tent to tent, cabin to cabin. We have a small studio room , very basic, very cheap but its dry, its warm and we are safe there….that’s the difference… We can go home if we are cold or wet afterwards. On better nights, we still put out chairs, socialize, play music, sit and talk . These nights are enjoyable, to see all nationalities, all ages, all religions and none sitting together, drinking tea together, sharing a shisha and sometimes even smiling. We try to each week hand out fruit, apples, pears, bananas etc at least one night to everyone in the camp. Now that the weather seems to be improving , we will also resume juice for the children as well as their playtime activities. Whenever possible and finances allow, we supply cookers, kettles, pots and pans, strollers, baby food and smoothies to all who need, again with Friendly Humans group, Samos.

We make regular trips to the port/airport  to drop people off and stay with them while their paperwork is processed .. all small things but important.

It is thanks to good people we can do this, our regular friends and donaters that never let us down, our new friends that we meet all the time on line or in person. Those of you with brilliant ideas to help, those of you just giving us the mental support to keep going, to pass on their love to those more in need. People like Claire and Jeremy who this week are the reason many people,  mainly the elderly, the children and females in the camp all now have personal torches , dynamo operated so no batteries needed, to stay safe on toilet trips or medical trips at night time. Thank you both and to all your friends, family and colleagues who contributed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

So please, if at all possible, continue in your support. We cover our own expenses, we do not take a salary, there are no administration charges coming out of your donations, what you give is towards those whose circumstances right now warrant our help… ALL of what you give.

For options to donate please visit:

https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhg   (GO FUND ME)

or

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by    ( PAYPAL)

or email or pm for bank details.

More pictures and video below…. As always thank you so much.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

After 9 months, this beautiful, resilient and peace loving lady finally left Samos to Athens at 3.00 a.m. this morning. Tuesday 21st February 2017.

 

No more borders, No more tears ( Previous post)

Sara’s Story, from Palestine to Greece…

Please take the time to listen to (and share)Sara’s story. (In brief).
For all that we do it is still fundamentally a band aid. More, much more is needed. Of course your support, your donations are needed but even more urgently is those the should be listening to listen, those playing God with people’s lives and their fate to find some humanity. For Sara, for so many, please do whatever is in your power to do to help. Sarah is very very dear to us. This video was made with the full permission and Co operation of Sara and her family.
http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by PAYPAL
https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tear… GO FUND ME

PLEASE SHARE.
In Samos camp this week MAGGOTS were found in the officially supplied food that we have fought against for months now as being unfit for human consumption, of poor dietary needs, lacking in nutrition and practically inedible.. There are no excuses left for these conditions. Enough money is paid to both authorities and the UN to ensure at least decent healthy food, food fit for human consumption is provided for those seeking refuge!!

In Fact, International law states and is adopted by the UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS:

The right to food is recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25) as part of the right to an adequate standard of living, and is enshrined in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 11).[5] The 2009 Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights makes the right to food justiciable at the international level.[25]
In 2012, the Food Assistance Convention was adopted, making it the first legally binding international treaty on food aid.

https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tear… Go Fund me.

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by Paypal

16468920_150167888822326_1323606397_n-116468920_150167888822326_1323606397_n16492199_149769248862190_996963027_o16522378_149769275528854_70388093_o

neverdoubt_lg

This is Samos this week…. It is a far cry from the promised and no doubt still being discussed “winterization ” of the camps! It is a blight on all those with conscience who either turn away or find this acceptable, IT IS NOT.

We return to Samos in a week. We will never turn away, never give in and never stop fighting for the rights of every human being on this planet to have basic human rights, basic humanity, basic living conditions, education, solace, sanctuary, medical attention, the right to be heard, seen, listened to, the right of safety, of refuge … and the right and the ability to return home !

We are so grateful to those who have already offered help, donated, fundraised, offered advise, suggestions and ideas of help. From the Pakistani community in Ballaghdereen, to Deirdre in Cork and to all her colleagues and friends, to Eva who is a constant support and provider,Bernie in Belfast who has been behind us all the way, to Claire and Jeremy in France and Amy in Cornwall, Denis in New york and Ireland, and Jerry and Louisa in Mayo…  to those who have donated via bank transfer, paypal or go fund me. I wish I could name and personally thank every single one of you, it is the least you deserve but I hope this and our promise of doing our best in your name and with your donations/support suffices in some way to showing our absolute gratitude.

As I said, we are in the last preparations for our return. As you can see from the video ( Thanks M) below, things are extremely bad in Samos. Families seeking refuge continue to arrive across dangerous seas to be faced with the scenes below. We have ideas and plans to implement to try to alleviate some of the conditions below but the constant and more sustainable fight for an end to war, greed, conflict and abuse of humans is to the forefront of our minds and our humanitarian work as always only runs paralell to our beliefs as human rights defenders/activists.

Please continue alongside us, watch the videos, and if at all possible donate,share our updates ( which will continue once we arrive back to Greece next week) stay in touch or get in touch… we can not do any of this alone…

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Options to donate:

http://wp.me/PsaGo-1by

https://www.gofundme.com/https-no-more-borders-no-more-tears-2tuhg

OR PLEASE EMAIL OR MESSAGE US FOR BANK DETAILS.

jennygraham7@gmail.com

Facebook : No more borders No more tears

Twitter : nomoreborders1

As always, Thank you .