Personally-Delivered Aid for War Refugees in Greece
Organized by: Judith Ansara Gass
Update 10-23-15 Read from bottom up for posts in original order.
Friends, I am now home in Colorado USA a and continuing to actively support the work on Leros. A few days ago we finally gained approval from the government for rennovating a large well located building called PIKPA . PIKPA is a game changer and NOW we do need an ongoing stream of money to complete rennovations and for the ongoing supply of staples and operational costs. PIKPA will be used both as shelter for our refugees and as a place to coordinate the work of the group I have been working with, the Leros Solidarity Network (LSN) and the international aid agenicies including MSF (Medicines Sans Frontiers or Doctors Without Borders) and UNHCR (United Nations High Commision for Refugees). It has been a roller coaster of political intrigue and power plays along with a very slow moving federal process which I have been helping to move along. I have often felt like the mythical Greek Sysyhous - endlessly pushing the boulder up hill only to have it roll down again The happy outcome is that LSN is now inside the building repairing plumbing and electricity, painting, procuring beds and linens and all that will be needed to provide both decent shelter, clothing, and sanitation. The rains and winds and colder weather are already making terrible conditions much worse. Volunteers are working hard to get the doors open in the next few days. I am coordinating not only the money we raise here, but fundraising from donors in 5 other countries. This list will grow as we are part of an international humanitarian effort to offer compassion and safety in the this world crisis. Your contribution will make a huge difference for the refugees who arrive in Leros already traumatized and for whom simple kindness and basic services are a life raft in a stormy past and a very uncertain future. PIKPA will offer refuge, and will help us serve them in a coordinated way instead of the chaotic triage that has been the only way to function in the contindions which have exicisted. About 1/3 of your donations have paid for emergency needs of food, water, boat tickets and medicine over the past six weeks, But I have had my eye on PIKPA since the beginning and have now dedicated the rest of our money in support of this new center of operations. We are also wanting to fund stipends for qualified staff and interns to manage operations on the ground. Please donate here and send this around to friends, post frequently to social media, twitter, newsletters or whatever means you have. Though Leros is a small part of a major human rights crisis, it is a place where we collectively can make a difference. Thank you for your love and compassion and for your contribution and for spreading the word. There may be opportunities to go help on the gournd, so let meknow if htis is soemthing you are interested in doing. With love and gratitude. Judith
The sinking of a smuggler's wooden boat a few days ago has left at least 40 dead. I spent the afternoon at a hotel where the survivors have been given a place to start their long healing journey. Almost all of them have lost family members - in many cases children, husbands, wives.... it is hard to fathom.
We continue to try to move the political chess peices to get the building we are tyring to rehabilitate. Meanwhile we continue to fund urgent needs here on the ground.
Thank you for your continued support and contributions. As I am sure you are reading this is a world crisis which will not easily be solved. Meanwhile, these people need our help. My friend, Tevon, will be able to remain here through mid-November and will contunue to find the best use of your funds after I leave.
Now that we have been on the ground here on Leros, Greece, we have had some time to assess the best use of your donations. We are directing about 1/5 of our funds towards fundamental emergency needs including food and water, boat tickets for those without money, medicine and other critical needs which come to our attention.
We are working directly with the founder of the Leros Solidarity Network and local and national officials to refurbish a building so the refugees will have beds and toilets and showers while they are waiting to receive their asylum and immigration papers and then wait for their boats to Athens.
From there as you have undoubtably read, their way is still not easy.
Currently, about 300-800 refugees/day, primarily from Syria and Afghanistan have been pouring in, risking their lives to escape war and violence. Hundreds more arrive daily including pregnant women and infants and some unattended children. Basic services including food, water, sanitation are completely inadequate.
Local governments--already experiencing economic crisis --have been completely overwhelmed and un-prepared to respond to these numbers. International aid organizations have been very slow to get on the ground and even they are having a hard time keeping up. I will be connecting with locally-organized, direct service, volunteer aid groups who are trying to fill the gap but who, in the devastated Greek economy, have run out of money and need our help.
I am covering my own travel expenses. Please help me raise additional funds to try to help meet refugees' urgent basic needs as they wait for papers to allow them to move on to other parts of Europe where they can try to make a new life.
We are donating a significant sum ourselves toward basic supplies - your donation will go directly to the hands and mouths and these courageous and desperate people. One of the groups on Kos has reached tier limit allowed for receiving funds, so this is our way of providing further help. I will be speaking with those helping and with the brave people I meet and sending reports as I go.
Funds donated after my departure will be wired to banks on each island where I can distrubute them to groups on the ground.
Thank you for your kindness and for your donation. I will consider myself an emissary from each and every one of you.
Love and blessings,
Judith Ansara (Gass)