By Germany and United Kingdom Relief Teams (Originally in English)
A few months after Macedonia closed its borders with Greece in March 2016, Idomeni, a Greek village on the border, was evacuated, and thousands of refugees were placed in military camps across Northern Greece. Many of them had to endure harsh, wintery conditions without having proper shelter or clothing. Following Supreme Master Ching Hai’s instruction to help the needy, our Association members from Germany, Greece and the United States contributed approximately EUR 10,000, which enabled our members in Germany and the United Kingdom to provide much-needed food and supplies to the refugees, as well as to the homeless people in Northern Greece from December 14 to 21, 2016.
Our team first visited Sinatex, a camp for families of 200 Kurdish refugees, situated 22 kilometers northeast of Thessaloniki. The children were delighted by the cuddly toys and vegan chocolates we brought. We also set up a Christmas tree, which people enthusiastically helped decorate. Following Master’s reminder to protect our precious environment and our beautiful trees, we did not use a live tree.
In addition, we contributed Master’s books The Birds in My Life, The Dogs in My Life, and The Noble Wilds to the Bê-Sînor-Sinatex Cultural Center. We also gave copies of the spiritual book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho to be used to teach advanced English. The Bê-Sînor-Sinatex Cultural Center is providing education to 80 children, and not only teaches Arabic, Kurdish, math, science and geography, but also organizes birthday parties, dance evenings, yoga, sports and art classes. A few days later, we returned with children’s shoes, socks, hats, undergarments, plates, cutlery, multi-plugs and three heaters for the Cultural Center. We also purchased 76 mattresses and covers, as many refugees were suffering from backaches.
To help the underprivileged people on the streets, we prepared sets of hats, gloves and warm socks, along with vegan chocolates and some cash, and gave them out with warm Christmas wishes. Among the recipients were people at traffic lights who were selling goods, cleaning car windows, performing juggling acts, or begging. We bought lots of vegan food for a large Roma family in need outside a supermarket. A man who was selling perfume was overwhelmed with emotion when we offered him money, and insisted on giving us perfume in return. To the homeless shelter in Thessaloniki, we offered Master’s books, and donated winter socks, hats, gloves, raincoats, long underwear and Christmas hats.
We were pleased to see that the local people seemed to take good care of the stray dogs. In front of a shop, we saw four baskets – each had a contented sleeping dog! The shop owner kindly fed and took care of them. As it was really cold, we bought them each an extra blanket. We also met an elderly three-legged stray dog who was cared for by the whole neighborhood. We covered him with a blanket and sent him love.
On December 17, we decided to clean the beach close to where we were staying. We filled many bags, and carried them to nearby bin containers. A local resident advised us to inform the municipality next time, so the whole community could come to help.
We met Fawaz, a refugee from Syria, at a coffee shop in town. Fawaz had lost many of his friends to the war, and had been in a camp with his family in Greece for eight months. We gave him Master’s book From Crisis to Peace – The Organic Vegan Way is the Answer, which he started reading immediately. Also, we gave him Master’s books The Birds in My Life and The Dogs in My Life. He showed great interest in Master’s spiritual teachings. He is a vegetarian and would like to be vegan as soon as possible. We bought clothes for his children, and baby items for his unborn child. We also gave him cash to assist his family and friends. Expressing his gratitude, Fawaz dedicated the following poem to Master:
I do not lie
You’re a lifesaver
I do not know what to tell you, or tell you all
I do not have words
I and my family, with all my heart
Thank you for everything
Thank you mom [Master]
You changed all our lives
Thank you for the food
Thanks for clothes
Thanks for everything
Thank you thank you.
Although we could not reach all refugees and homeless people in this area, we were sure Master’s immeasurable Love had touched everybody, just in time for Christmas. Thank you so much, most wonderful Master, for Your shining example to serve humankind! We are so grateful.
P.S. Update! Fawaz has a newborn baby whom he named Mary Âu Lạc in honor of Master. (Supreme Master Ching Hai was born in Âu Lạc (Vietnam).) Through studying Master’s teachings, Fawaz realized that the violence and misfortune in the world originated from the violent lifestyle humans adopted. He repented that he used to raise animals and harm them on his farm. Now, not only has he turned to the compassionate vegan diet, he is also actively helping his Syrian friends to choose the plant-based diet
Fawaz is just one of the many refugees who has changed his or her life to be more positive, merciful and spiritual. Through relief work, our Association members have had the opportunity to share Master’s teachings with the refugees. For instance, a 17-year-old Yazidi girl from Iraq became vegan after reading Master’s lectures translated by a Syrian Kurdish friend of our team. Furthermore, a Palestinian Association member reported that with his help, six more Syrian refugees are now vegan, and are yearning to know more about Master. In their time of trouble, Master’s divine love and light comforted their souls. Below is another poem written by Fawaz for Master.
By Fawaz (Originally in Arabic)
A message from my family to Supreme Master (MOM)
To the one who works without waiting for a thank you
To the one who brings happiness to others
To the one who sows hope in the hearts of the vulnerable
To the one who brightens the almshouses
As all my friends have abandoned me
And I thought I was alone
I found you beside me
Brightening my house
Bringing joy and happiness to the heart of my child
Many negative thoughts attacked me
I thought of selling one of my kids or one of my organs
I was assailed by suicidal thoughts
All I see around are a bunch of liars
And going back home as heroes
To the one Who saved a whole family
I am speechless
No words describe what I feel
Thank you is not enough
Me, my wife, my kids and our small AULAC say to you:
Your beam illuminates our lives
In the absence of humanity, you were the salvation.
God bless you.
You will always be a star that shines and illuminates the houses of innocent people and the stomachs of the poor.
With all my love
Expenditures by The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association for the Homeless and Refugee Relief Work in Greece, December 14 to 21, 2016
|Mattresses for refugees in Sinatex camp||3,565.00||A|
|Cash contribution to the refugee families||4,705.00|
|Extension cords, clothing items for adults and children, shoes, blankets, utensils, vegan chocolates, books and three heaters for a school, food and transportation for the relief team||4,362.04|
|Total||EUR 12,632.04 (US$13,272.62)|
Sinatex Refugee Camp Near Thessaloniki, Greece – Sharing Christmas Gifts and Providing Needed Clothing and Supplies
Helping Those in Need, Sharing Blankets with Dog Friends and Cleaning the Beach in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece