My name is Michael and I live in London. Working in news and following the heartbreaking refugee crisis across Europe I have been desperate to do something to help out. I have now got the opportunity to go to Lesvos in Greece at the end of January.
My friend Peggy, who has been out there volunteering for nearly two months now, has kept me posted with the situation there. They need more volunteers, money, clothes, blankets, doctors and they need Kurdish translators which is one of the things I can help with.
Since I have decided to go I thought I'll try to raise money on the way to spend on getting the vital stuff for the refugees when I am there. I only have 20 kg allowance for the plane and will try to take as much as possible with me (clothes, blankets etc) however the best contribution is money which is best spent on the local economy. I will spend the money on food, clothes, sleeping bags, blankets and other essential supplies for the refugees.
"Last night, around sunset, a large wooden boat carrying around 300 refugees sunk on the way from Turkey to Lesvos. The first we heard of this was a message begging for medical help in the harbour to treat 10 unconscious children. I learned CPR at a First Aid course a year or so ago, so I ran down to see if I could help. The ambulance had already taken the children. But more were soon to arrive from the Greek coastguard. While the doctor attended to a non-responsive little boy, I gave chest compressions to his non-responsive sister. I couldn’t even check her airway was clear or breath into her mouth as her jaw was clamped shut with cold. After a minute or two of chest compressions, she vomited and then a doctor took over. Both her and her brother were fine in the end, but many children here were not. Some that survived may well be severely disabled for the rest of their lives.
The heroic actions of the Greek coastguard saved around 242 lives. But around 60 are still missing, presumed dead. There aren’t the facilities here to cope with so many corpses, thus many bodies were left floating in the water.
I had to sit for several hours with children aged from 3 to 14 who were all without their families. We managed to reunite some of them, thankfully, but several of the kids watched their parents drown in front of them. One teenage girl lost her entire family. She doesn’t speak a word of English. What will happen to her now?
These people are fleeing war and because of the current political situation for a journey that you or I would pay 10 Euro for, they are forced to pay $1,200 each. Except these people yesterday paid over double this ($3,000) after the people smugglers told them they would be going in an exceptionally safe boat, which they were then forced onto at gunpoint. And then it sunk barely a kilometre from the Turkish coast.
The village of Molyvos opened the church and the top floors of one of the restaurants here to house people who had been floating on the water for nearly five hours. But there was not enough space for everyone, so a handful of people had to sleep outside in the harbour.
I took one Iraqi family who were going to sleep on the street back to my house. They had two young children. The woman was 35 weeks pregnant. She thought she had lost the baby but then she felt him kick on my sofa. For them, at least, they have a happy ending. For now.
We need help. The volunteers, Starfish, the UN, the IRC, the Red Cross, A Drop in the Ocean and many other great NGOs are working around the clock to assist these people but we are struggling cope with this. We need more volunteers, we need more money, we need more clothes, we need more blankets, we need more doctors, we need more Arabic and Farsi translators. We need more boots on the ground. Winter is nearly upon us.''