This fundraiser is to raise money to ship the aid we plan to collect over Christmas and January both independently and with our partner, Compass Fostering.
Grassroots civilian volunteers are working flat out at crisis points across Europe to try to provide dry clothing and food to refugees fleeing war and persecution. Families of men women, children and babies often arrive traumatised, injured and soaked to the skin, either wet from the sea after arriving off boats, or soaked from walking across Europe in the rain.
Our next destination for aid is Idomeni due to the unfolding situation at the Greek- Macedonian border.
Latest update from Idomeni:
(taken from a post by Phoebe Ramsay on Facebook)
It's still raining.
I haven't been able to bring myself to take many photographs in the last 24 hours. The misery, suffering, despair is too raw, too personal. There are dozens of news crews here taking photos and footage of shivering barefoot children in the mud, if you want to see images they will not be hard to find. I haven't slept since yesterday. I'm struggling to find the words to describe Idomeni.
Macedonia finally announced yesterday afternoon that the border was officially closed. There hasn't been much, or any obvious reaction to this news in camp- I was expecting a riot or protest at least. Maybe the news hasn't filtered out yet (there's no WiFi or information provided in camp); maybe people don't really believe it; maybe they're just too defeated and preoccupied with survival to protest.
Absolutely everything and everyone is soaked to the bone. All the camping tents in the fields are flooded. Almost all of these tents have children in them. At night, the sound of children coughing and babies crying rises through the pouring rain. People are sleeping-or trying to sleep-on the soaking wet blankets they use to line their tents. There is nowhere for anyone from these tents to seek shelter to warm up; the large UN and MSF tents are completely packed.
We went in at 5 am to put up three army tents on raised pallets, our intention was to identify the most vulnerable families with small children and babies while it was still dark. It was impossible. As the sun came up, families crowded around the tents, desperate to get inside. I had to tell a sobbing woman, who was standing in the mud in sandals in the pouring rain at dawn begging me to let her four wet, sick and cold children inside, to leave, because I had already promised the tent to another family with four wet and cold children. There was nowhere else for her to go except back to her muddy, broken tent.
No one has socks. No one has dry clothes. Everyone's shoes are broken and soaking wet.
A father clutches my hands. He is crying. "I have lost everything. 3,000 dollars for my family to come from Turkey. This was the big dream, Europe was the big dream. We just want to be safe. And this. What is this."
I help a shivering woman wearing broken leather dress shoes down a muddy slope. She has a son with epilepsy. "I can't do this anymore. We came here because we were dying, and what, people will die here. Shame on your country, I'm sorry, but shame."
An old man sits around a fire in the mud, he is burning plastic bags and branches he has snapped off the trees nearby. He has built a makeshift shelter out of branches and sopping wet UNHCR blankets. "My four brothers, they were killed, Daesh. (He draws his thumb across his throat.) Me, I no want to be killed. Just safe, for my children. I have a son, he is 11, he is in Germany already. Will I see him again?"
We give out garbage bags and cardboard boxes. We rip holes in the bags and put them over the children who don't have rain jackets. People are so grateful. "Thank you, thank you for you. Shukran."
No, I don't have shoes. No, I don't have a tent to give you. Mafi. No, I don't have a blanket. Later, I hope. Inshaallah. No, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I know. It's awful. I know. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
We have used the money collected so far to ship a total of 15 pallets to: Samos (5 pallets), Chios (6 pallets), Tilos (2 pallets) and Leros (2 pallets). You can follow the progress of our campaign and see some of our pallets arriving in Chios on our Facebook page
Some funds may be used to buy items to send on pallets and maximise the usefulness of the aid we are sending. Some items we may purchase are socks (to ensure that every pair of shoes goes out with a pair of socks in it), new underwear, jogging bottoms and changing towels.
Money that is leftover from aid shipments will be spent on welcoming refugees and asylum seekers in the local Sussex area.