By Korean Relief Team (Originally in Korean)
With refugees continuing to arrive in Europe, leaving everything to escape war-torn countries, comes a greater need for assistance as they make their journey to find a safer place to call home. With deep concern for the refugees, Supreme Master Ching Hai lovingly asked our Association members to help in whatever way possible to ease the crisis. The following is a report from our Korean Association members, who traveled to Greece in January 2016 to join in relief efforts for the refugees.
Assisting Refugees at Victoria Square in Athens, Greece – January 28 to 29, 2016
As soon as eight of our Korean Association members arrived in Athens, Greece, we began relief work. On January 28, we went to an airport warehouse to help unload and organize relief items. A refugee from Yemen warmly greeted us and told us that he saw another team wearing the same yellow vests we were wearing, helping to clean up a refugee camp a month ago. We felt very happy to hear that our Association’s relief efforts were being recognized by the refugees.
The next day, we went to Victoria Square park in the evening to distribute vegan food and relief items. Many male refugees who are not from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan have to stay outside in the cold weather, because unfortunately, they are not officially approved as refugees.
Before reaching the park, a man from Algeria approached us and asked for help, as he was cold and hungry. We provided him with a hot pack and a mat to keep warm. He had been sleeping in the open for a long time, so he was overjoyed with the items. We also brought food for him.
In the park, our prepared items were quickly distributed to those in need. Therefore, we made two more trips back to our place to pick up additional items and distribute them. Mineral water and nuts were especially welcomed by the refugees.
A group of Algerian refugees were very friendly with us. One of them told us of his dangerous journey to Greece, crossing the sea from Turkey. He said some refugees even chose to return home after being stranded in Greece for a month. With their guidance, we visited a nearby park where there were refugees staying in tents, with only a few blankets to keep warm. We did our best to provide them with timely assistance, and pray that their situation will improve soon.
Continued Relief Efforts at Victoria Square, Athens, Greece – January 31, 2016
To support the continuing refugee relief operations in Greece, our Korean Association members sent four more members to join the relief team as well as US$60,633 in funds. Our Tokyo Association members also contributed US$5,000.
On January 31, the ferry strike ended, so we prepared nuts and raisins for distribution, as a lot of refugees were expected to arrive. In the afternoon, we picked up sleeping bags, clothing, mineral water, mats and wet wipes from a warehouse in the old Athens airport, and went to Victoria Square to distribute the items. The police were kind to us when they saw our Association’s name on our yellow vests. About 30 to 40 refugees lined up to receive the items. They were very appreciative for the wet wipes, as they had not had access to showers for a long time. In the evening, we returned to Victoria Square to distribute vegan meals. We were pleased to hear that many refugees liked the food.
One refugee approached us, saying he felt cold because his clothes were too thin. One of our relief team members rushed back to our place and took his own winter, padded (vegan) jacket, and gave it to the refugee. Hearing that it was a personal item, the refugee was deeply touched and shook hands with our team member.
On the same day, five of our team members departed for Chios Island with cooking utensils to help provide vegan meals for the 3,000 refugees on the island.
We feel grateful for the precious opportunity to help our fellow human beings in times of trouble.
Helping Many Refugees Arriving in Athens, Greece – February 1, 2016
After the ferry strike was over, on February 1, about 4,000 refugees arrived in Athens. Our relief team in Athens, Greece, went to the port in the early morning to provide vegan food packages and daily supplies for the first-arriving ferry. In total, we gave out 300 food packages, each containing peanuts, raisins, bread and mineral water. We brought daily necessities such as wet wipes, tissues, diapers, feminine hygiene supplies, socks, gloves etc. for the refugees to take as they needed. Some items were gone quickly, so we decided to bring more of those items for distribution next time.
Afterwards, we picked up tents and sleeping bags at the warehouse, and visited Victoria Square where many refugees sleep on benches or on the streets. With the help from an English-speaking refugee, we were able to distribute the items an orderly manner. We promised the refugees that we would come back with more.
Continued Assistance for Refugees in Athens, Greece – February 2, 2016
In the early morning of February 2, our relief team in Athens went to the market to purchase bananas and oranges. The shop workers, who were from Iraq, quickly helped us upon hearing that the fruits were for refugees. Shortly after we came to the port, an overwhelming number of refugees arrived, tired and hungry. We tried our best to distribute prepared vegan foods and “Those Who Have Love Are Nearest to God” flyers.
In the afternoon, we came to Victoria Square, where the number of refugees was about 500, and distributed 200 vegan food packages, each containing a sandwich, nuts, a flyer, dates, two bananas and two tangerines. We gave priority to women and children, and everybody was very understanding.
We were overjoyed to welcome a local woman in Athens to join us. She had become very interested in Master after watching the screening of Loving the Silent Tears musical previously organized by our Association members on Lesbos Island. She had since studied Master’s teachings through our websites, learned the Convenient Method of meditation, and is ready to learn the Quan Yin Method of meditation soon. She also plans to open a vegan bakery and sell vegan foods to actively promote veganism in Greece. We were amazed by Master’s wonderful arrangement of adding more light to this caring country.
Preparing Vegan Meals on Chios Island, Greece – February 2, 2016
On February 2, while our other relief team members on Chios Island were preparing vegan meals at The People’s Street Kitchen for the refugees, a boat arrived on the seashore near us. We immediately rushed to the port and saw about 60 refugees coming off the boat with help from volunteers. They had big smiles and took pictures to remember the moment.
We brought them warm vegan soup, bread, bananas, water etc. They enjoyed our loving soup and looked relieved and happier, as they were tired and hungry after the long journey. Some expressed their deep gratitude to us again and again, and told us they came from Syria. We congratulated them for the safe arrival and prayed that their continued journey will also be peaceful. After a short break, they moved to Tabakika camp nearby for registration.
Later, we returned to the Kitchen to prepare more vegan food, and served meals to about 800 refugees in Souda camp. It was a big day, but with Master’s blessing, and the kind cooperation with other NGOs, everything went smoothly. We felt so thankful to have such a precious chance to help our brothers and sisters.
Providing Vegan Food for Tabakika and Souda Camps on Chios Island, Greece – February 3, 2016
On February 3, due to strong winds and high waves, there were no newly arriving refugees coming from Turkey. However, because it was a chilly day, more food was needed for the refugees already on the island. Thus, at lunchtime, our relief team on Chios Island brought hot vegan soup to Tabakika camp. We were sorry to see that many of the refugees sleep on blankets on the cold concrete ground, and hoped all the relief items would reach them as soon as possible.
While we were preparing dinner, two refugees came to The People’s Street Kitchen asking for food because they were very hungry. We gave them vegan soup, bread and bananas, and told them to come to the Kitchen whenever needed. They expressed their deep gratitude.
For dinner, using two vans, we delivered food to Tabakika camp and Souda camp, where a total of about 800 refugees were staying. While we were cleaning up the dining area in one of the camps, a friendly boy came to help us. Upon knowing that we came from Korea, he asked if we know Taekwondo because he learned it in Syria, and wished to be friends with us.
Serving Vegan Food at Souda Camp and Speaking to the Media at The People’s Street Kitchen, Chios Island, Greece – February 4, 2016
On February 4, many refugees continued along their journey, so the number of refugees on Chios Island had reduced a little. Our relief team cooked and served dinner for those staying at Souda camp. During the break time, while we were cleaning up the street in front of The People’s Street Kitchen, our neighbors gave us thanks. After cleaning up, we played ball with the children who came out of their camp. The children took pictures with us, and we all had a good time.
Also, a television team we previously met at Souda camp, followed us to the Kitchen to record our relief activities. We told them that we only provide loving, vegan food for refugees, and let them taste the soy meat we prepared. It was the first time they tried a vegan meat substitute, and they said it tasted just like real meat, asking for more. The cameraman named Yiorgos showed interest in our Association and asked about veganism. We introduced them to The Supreme Master Ching Hai News Magazine website, where all our Association’s relief activities are reported.
Chef Ifty Patel expressed appreciation for our team’s sincere and dedicated work, as it was challenging for him to work alone in the beginning. We commented that it must be God’s arrangement and he agreed as well.
Providing Vegan Food and Relief Items to Refugees in Athens, Greece – February 3 and 4, 2016
With two rented vans and the kind help from a local resident, our relief team in Athens was able to work more effectively. Hundreds of refugees were staying in the warehouse and waiting room at Piraeus Port, unable to continue their journey because buses were on strike and borders were closed. We provided vegan food and relief items including diapers, baby food and wet wipes for them on February 3 and 4.
Seeing a baby had a fever, we quickly tried to help. Many pharmacies were closed due to a strike, so we were very grateful to find an open pharmacy in time. The pharmacist recommended that we just clean her running nose with a device we bought from the pharmacy, as a seven-month old baby should not take cold medicine. We came back to the mother and baby and assisted them with loving care. After receiving treatment and comfort, the baby felt better and showed a big smile. Her mother was very relieved.
We also helped sort out relief items at the warehouse in the old airport of Athens and brought sleeping bags, clothing, hats and wet wipes for the refugees eagerly waiting for us at Victoria Square. They especially appreciated sleeping bags and hats, as nights were cold.
Sharing Love Through Vegan Food with Chef Ifty Patel and Refugees, Chios Island, Greece – February 5, 2016
Since our friend Chef Ifty Patel of The People’s Street Kitchen was leaving to go back to the United Kingdom for a short trip, our relief team on Chios Island hosted a farewell party for him on February 5. Some guests from Italy tried our vegan food and they could not believe such delicious food had no meat. At the party, Chef Ifty recalled how he met our organization and how he was able to overcome difficulties and share love for refugees together with us. He shed tears and expressed his deepest appreciation for our support. We also cried and felt grateful for such a precious opportunity to work with him, and provide continued assistance for the refugees on the island.
Afterwards, we went to Souda camp to provide a vegan dinner. It was a windy and rainy night, so the camp staff kindly allowed us to distribute meals under a temporary tent. Seeing the refugees shaking from cold and hunger, we felt great sympathy and prayed that they would have many warm nights in God’s love.
More Volunteers Needed in Athens, Greece – February 5, 2016
With the sudden increase in the number of refugees and the cold weather, our relief team in Athens discussed ways to save costs and stay longer to serve the refugees. There is a need for more volunteers at present. In the afternoon on February 5, we went to Victoria Square to distribute vegan food packages and Master’s “Those Who Have Love Are Nearest to God” flyers. However, we found we need to make more packages, as there were not enough for all the refugees and it was difficult to keep order like before.
Bringing Vegan Food for Arriving Refugees in Athens, Greece – February 6, 2016
Our relief team in Athens tries to serve 300 to 400 refugees on a daily basis, however, according to a Greek report, 3,000 to 4,000 are arriving in Greece each day. On February 6, we came to docks E3 and E7 at Piraeus Port with prepared vegan food for the refugees, upon hearing many were soon arriving.
We first went to dock E3, where we found an English-speaking refugee to help us organize food distribution. We gave first priority to women and children. In a small waiting room, we gave vegan food to about 30 refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq. We used a translation app to help communicate with them. For these people who just escaped from a difficult situation in their homeland, we tried to give them as much caring attention, kind words and love as we could.
Over at dock E7, the situation was very different because the refugees there had waited for a longer period of time, and they were more desperate. Eventually, we had to stop our relief efforts there for safety reasons. We sincerely pray that the situation will soon improve for them.
Hot Vegan Soup and a Special Vegan Lunch for Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – February 6 to 7, 2016
After the ferries started to operate again, most refugees on Chios Island had left for other destinations. On February 6, which was a very cold day, we went to Souda camp and provided hot vegan soup for the refugees. Jacob, a kind volunteer, sang and played his ukulele, uplifting the atmosphere.
On February 7 in Souda camp, there were about 50 refugees remaining. In order to help them eat in a more comfortable situation, we decided to provide lunch at a nearby place outside the camp. We all enjoyed the happy, vegan lunch together. During lunchtime, a volunteer played music and a man sang along in Arabic.
We met a girl coming with her family from Iraq. She told us she and her family could not afford to go to Athens, and that her mother recently passed away. Seeing our concern for her, she even comforted us, saying, “You are already doing your best to help us.” We prayed that God would have a good arrangement for her and her family.
Providing Vegan Food at Piraeus Port, Athens, Greece – February 7, 2016
In the early morning of February 7, our relief team in Athens went to Piraeus Port and distributed about 300 vegan food packages containing bananas, peanuts, bread and Master’s “Those Who Have Love Are Nearest to God” flyers to the refugees. About 200 of the refugees had to sleep on the cold ground at Dock E1 with just blankets and sleeping bags.
As many services are on strike, the refugees have been waiting for buses to take them to the border. They are currently stranded at the Port and need assistance. Fortunately, many other NGOs are becoming aware of their situation and have begun to provide relief for them as well. We also spent some time playing with balloons with the children to give them some fun time and we were happy to see them smiling.
Next, we went to Omonoia Square and distributed about 150 more vegan food packages. Our yellow jackets and vehicle with Master’s photo are well-known among the refugees, so upon seeing us, they started gathering. We managed to keep order this time and everything went smoothly.
Continued Relief Efforts at Piraeus Port and Helping Out at an Athens Park, Greece – February 8 to 9, 2016
On February 8 at Piraeus Port, when the refugees saw our team, they rushed to us and smiled when receiving the vegan food packages. A gentleman came to tell us that his child was sick, so we followed him and saw a boy covered with a blanket inside a shopping cart. He looked weak due to what seemed to be a high fever. We immediately informed a NGO staff in the terminal building at the Port. The staff promised they would call an ambulance right away to take the boy to a hospital. We prayed that the child would soon recover.
The next day, we prepared 300 more vegan food packages including bananas, peanuts, raisins, bread and Master’s “Those Who Have Love Are Nearest to God” flyers for the refugees at the Port. The remaining food was given to refugees in other terminals.
In the afternoon, we went to Pedion tou Areos Park where a lot of refugees were living in tents, and cleaned up the area. Noticing our efforts, many refugees asked us where we were from and raised their thumbs to show appreciation. Afterwards, we distributed about 40 sleeping mats to the grateful refugees to help keep them warm. We hope that our small act of love will bring warmth and hope to their heart.
Distributing Vegan Food Packages at Piraeus Port, Athens, Greece – February 10 to 11, 2016
With the addition of six of our Association members flying in from Korea, we now have a total of 24 relief team members in Greece to help the refugees. More of our Korean Association members are planning to come as well.
On February 11, we went to Piraeus Port in the early morning to prepare vegan food packages. The 6am ferry brought about 1,700 refugees to the port. We distributed the food packages to the refugees as they made their way to the buses. Running out of food packages, we distributed individual bananas and packets of peanuts and raisins to the refugees. A gentleman, thanking us for the bananas, told us he traveled alone from Syria as his children were sadly lost to bombings during the war.
After cleaning up our working area, we moved to Dock E1, where we unexpectedly came across a girl who we met last week at Souda camp on Chios Island. At that time, she told us her family of 18 could not afford to come to Athens. Now, her whole family was able to come with help from an organization. We gave them our congratulations, and offered to take some of them to the Elaionas camp in Athens, as we heard from a NGO staff that their vehicle was not big enough for the whole family. May God continue to bless this family and all the other refugees to soon find happy homes.
Cleaning Pedion tou Areos Park, Athens, Greece – February 12, 2016
On February 12, after giving out bananas and tangerines to the refugees arrived at Piraeus Port in the early morning, our relief team in Athens again went to Pedion tou Areos Park to clean up. Many refugees were staying in tents there and we wanted to help them live in a clean and comfortable environment. A young man came to join us and expressed his gratitude for our efforts. A lot of passersby conveyed their appreciation as well. Although the park was too big for us to clean it entirely, we did the best we could to make the atmosphere better and brighter for those who are going through hardships.
Sorting Donated Items in Elliniko and More Cleaning at Pedion tou Areos Park, Athens, Greece – February 13, 2016
In the morning of February 13, our relief team in Athens divided to two teams with one returning to the Pedion tou Areos Park to do more cleaning and the other heading to a warehouse at a stadium in Elliniko to help sort relief items.
The refugee tent area in Pedion tou Areos Park still had an enormous amount of garbage, so we began to pick things up. Seeing what we were doing, a refugee also began to clean his own area and other areas too. It was like a spring cleaning at the park.
At a warehouse at a stadium in Elliniko, there were countless relief items that needed to be sorted out, donated by kind people from all corners of the world. We first moved relief items from vehicles into the warehouse and then classified them by male, female and children, and by size. We also selected comfortable shoes for the refugees. With such tremendous amount of relief items, there is always a need for manpower to process them.
In the afternoon, the two teams gathered together at Piraeus Port to prepare vegan food packages for the 250 refugees who we heard would arrive soon. To each of them, we handed out a package along with Master’s “Those Who Have Love Are Nearest to God” flyers when they were moving to the buses. They were very happy to receive the items.
After that, we went to Victoria Square. Upon seeing our van with Master’s banner, the refugees began to gather and there were more of them than what we expected. As soon as they received our vegan food, they began to eat and our supplies were gone in no time.
Peace Concert at Piraeus Port, Athens, Greece – February 14, 2016
On Sunday, February 14, which was also Valentine’s Day, our relief team in Athens went to Victoria Square to provide hot vegan soup to the refugees. Many local citizens in the park also tried our soup and expressed their appreciation for the relief work we were doing.
At noon, we joined a world peace concert at Piraeus Port held by NGOs. Our hot soup was welcomed by all the participants. A Greek television team filmed us and many people took pictures of us as well. The concert began with a Korean traditional pipe called Daegum played by one our team members, followed by Greek singers. Many NGO staff members took the opportunity to gather and exchange information about refugees.
We also shared Master’s The Key of Immediate Enlightenment Sample Booklets with the people who manage NGOs at the port, and volunteers from the SoupPort Team, who have been interested in Master’s teaching. May Master’s words of wisdom reach more people in Greece and bring an abundance of light and peace to the land.
Bringing Vegan Food to Refugees, Cleaning at Pedion tou Areos Park, and Lunch with Volunteers of SoupPort in Athens, Greece – February 15 to 16, 2016
On February 15, our relief team in Athens brought vegan food to the refugees at Victoria Square. With help from one of the refugees, the distribution went very smoothly. We appreciated the selfless assistance from people like him. Even though they were in a dire situation, some of them left without accepting any food or items from us. Next, we went to Pedion tou Areos Park again to clean up more areas. People were very friendly with us.
On February 16, we invited volunteers from SoupPort, a Swiss group who have been providing food to refugees arriving at the port, to have a vegan lunch with us. It was the first time many of them tasted Korean food, and they were amazed. We did a short meditation together, praying for world peace. To some of them who were interested in meditation and Master’s teachings, we gave a copy of Master’s The Key of Immediate Enlightenment Sample Booklet. We exchanged information and discussed our future plans for helping the refugees. We also gifted them with a DVD of Loving the Silent Tears: The Musical, and pray God will bless them for the good work they are doing. We all had a lovely time together and were reluctant to leave after the meal.
Providing Vegan Meals for Newly Arriving Refugees and in Camps on Chios Island, Greece – February 17 to 18, 2016
As the sea became calmer on February 17 and 18, many boats carrying refugees arrived on Chios Island. Our relief team went to help the refugees out of the boats. Some of them were extremely tired and stressed. We provided vegan meals for them after they came to the camp, hoping they would regain their strength soon. We also provided vegan meals for refugees in other camps on the island.
Welcoming Newly Arrived Refugees in Athens, Greece – February 17 to 18, 2016
On February 17, four of our Association members from Los Angeles, California, USA joined us in Athens and will go to Chios Island for relief work, replacing some of our existing relief team members. Together, we prepared packages containing various vegan food and Master’s “Those Who Have Love Are Nearest to God” flyers for the 2,000 refugees who will arrive tomorrow. We also meditated intensively, praying for world peace.
In the early morning of the next day, we went to the port to greet the ferry arriving at 6:15am. The ferry carried about 1,500 refugees, who looked tired but hopeful. Our vegan food packages were soon distributed and we our waved hands to show our welcome, giving them encouragement and supporting energy. Many refugees responded to us with big smiles.
Assisting with Relief Items and Distributing Vegan Food at Piraeus Port in Athens, Greece – February 20 to 21, 2016
As a large container loaded with various relief items arrived from Spain, helping hands were needed to sort out items at the warehouse in Elliniko, Athens. Therefore, on February 20, our relief team came to assist, working along with other volunteers.
In the evening, during strong winds and rain, a ferry carrying refugees arrived safely at Piraeus Port. We distributed our prepared vegan food packages and gave the newcomers a warm welcome and encouragement. The refugees looked happy to see us, and high-fives were given like we were greeting old friends.
The next day, upon learning that the refugees were still at the port because they could not go to the border the previous night, we went to the market in the early morning and purchased 40 boxes of bananas and tangerines. At the port, about 900 refugees were staying in the terminal. We distributed the fruit along with Master’s “Those Who Have Love Are Nearest to God” flyers. Many refugees smiled at us and read the flyers attentively. We felt Master’s love had reached their hearts and had brought us together as one family.
Continued Relief Efforts at Piraeus Port in Athens, Greece – February 22, 2016
By the morning of February 22, about 3,000 to 4,000 refugees were staying at the terminals of Piraeus Port in Athens, unable to move to Idomeni camp, as the border was closed. Upon hearing this, our relief team set out to the port with bananas and tangerines left over from the day before plus 30 more boxes purchased today. Luckily, when we arrived, the border was open again and buses were operating for the refugees.
At Terminal E1, together with volunteers from SoupPort, we distributed fruit to the remaining 300 to 400 refugees who were hungry. Later, when we cleaned up the area, about 10 children came to help us, and their laughter and smiles cheered up the atmosphere. We also went to Terminal E7 to distribute fruit and Master’s “Those Who Have Love Are Nearest to God” flyers, bringing the refugees Master’s love and encouragement.
Serving Vegan Lunch and Dinner to Many Refugees in Chios Island Camps, Greece – February 21 to 23, 2016
As there had been a sudden increase in the number of refugees on Chios Island, our relief team had been busy cooking for over 1,000 people each day from February 21 to 23. We served both vegan lunch and dinner in different refugee camps on the island. We also provided vegan candy for the children. We feel very honored to have such a precious opportunity to help those in need and we thank Master for Her blessing so that our operation goes smoothly on the island.
Providing Fruit for the Refugees at Piraeus Port in Athens, Greece – February 23, 2016
On February 23, our relief team in Athens went to Piraeus Port to provide fruit to the refugees in the morning. Many of them were stranded at the port these days due to border restrictions. We were a little concerned if we would have enough help for the distribution, as five of our members left for home yesterday. Miraculously, a young man approached us saying he knew eight people who had just arrived from Romania looking to help refugees for two weeks. Together we completed the distribution successfully, although we wished there was enough food for everyone. A television team and people from various organizations took videos and pictures of us. When we began to clean up the area, many refugees volunteered to help us. We were deeply touched by their selfless and kind act under such a stressful situation. We pray that they can soon continue with their journey and find new homes.
Continued Relief Efforts at Piraeus Port in Athens, Greece – February 24, 2016
On February 24, our relief team in Athens went to Piraeus Port to distribute bananas and tangerines together with volunteers from SoupPort who prepared tea and nuts for the large number of refugees waiting to be transported elsewhere. The refugees looked very tired and did not smile in the beginning. However, when we put the fruit in the children’s clothes so that they would not fall out, everyone laughed with the children. We were happy to see this lighthearted moment. In the evening, two of our members went to Chios Island to help our relief efforts there.
Sharing Vegan Food and Smiles with Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – February 24-25, 2016
On February 24, our relief team worked in The People’s Street Kitchen with its head chef Mr. Ifty Patel to cook vegan meals for over 700 refugees on Chios Island. Several volunteers from Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA), an international non-profit based in France, also came to prepare the vegan version of the traditional Egyptian food Koshari. Some of us put together vegan food packs that included Master’s “Those Who Have Love Are Nearest to God” flyers in Arabic and Persian so that they were ready for distribution. The kitchen had a beautiful and joyous atmosphere filled with people from diverse backgrounds.
We also had many visitors from various organizations on that day. Three members of Khalsa Aid, a Sikh group based in London, United Kingdom, came to find out what food items they could donate. One of them was happy to know that we also meditated, and shared with us a beautiful mantra about the divine from within. A member from SOS International who had experiences in providing food for refugees on Lesbos Island was impressed with the loving attention we put into making the food. He shared his vision of setting up a large food storehouse on Lesbos so that the food could be quickly distributed to other islands.
The next morning, we went to the port on Chios with Chef Patel and handed out the prepared vegan food packs to the refugees taking boats to Athens. To the children, we handed out vegan chocolates, which they loved. Some of our team members played with the children, making them laugh and smile. We sincerely wish that all displaced people can find loving homes in the countries of their final destination.
Continued Relief Efforts on Chios Island as More Refugees Arrive in Greece – February 26, 2016
On February 26, our relief team on Chios Island prepared meals for the refugees in The People’s Street Kitchen and served lunch and dinner at Souda camp and the new registration camp, Vial. With many European countries taking in less refugees and the restriction at the Greek and Macedonian border, it is estimated that over 25,000 refugees are currently stranded in Greece and the number is expected to increase because the refugee boats continue to arrive on the Greek islands, bringing over 1,000 refugees per day.
On the islands, the Greek government has stationed chartered ferryboats at the ports as temporary housing for refugees because there is not enough room to keep them all in the available camps. This is also an effort to slow down the amount of refugees traveling to the mainland because there are not enough camps to house them all. The Greek government, many locals, NGOs and independent volunteers are doing their best to help the refugees. However, more help is needed.
Serving Vegan Soup for Refugees at Souda and Vial Camps, Chios Island, Greece – February 27 to 28, 2016
On February 27, our relief team on Chios Island distributed vegan lunch and dinner at Souda camp and at the new “hotspot,” Vial camp. Hotspots are camps where there are reception facilities to register refugees.
We also offered the vegan soup to a delegation of the European Union Agency Frontex members and the representatives of the Netherlands Embassy in Athens who were taking a tour of the facilities at Vial camp. They said many decisions were still to be made for Greece to manage the influx of refugees, but they had seen a definite improvement in their care and registration process as they make their way to other European countries.
The next day, together with The People’s Street Kitchen run by Mr. Ifty Patel, we prepared a hearty vegan soup and served it with fresh bread to the hungry refugees at Souda and Vial camps. Souda camp is located next to the seashore, so the refugees were able to enjoy the warm spring sun and the gentle sea breeze while eating. For a short moment, it felt like Heaven on Earth where everyone was part of one family regardless of the different nationalities and backgrounds. We hope these beautiful people will continue to experience loving care and open arms wherever they go. May God bless them!
Expenditures By The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association For Refugee Relief Work In Athens and Chios Island, Greece
|Food packages for refugees (bread, bananas, mandarins, other fruits, peanuts, raisins etc.)||8,852.32||A|
|Medicine for refugees, cleaning supplies, plastic bags and miscellaneous supplies||343.07||B|
|Supplies (pots, utensils etc.) and food (lentils, rice, salt, cabbages, lemons, carrots etc.) for The People’s Street Kitchen||947.34||C|
|Food packages for refugees (bananas, mandarins, peanuts, raisins, bread, vegan candy and chocolates for children etc.)||7,604.34||D|
|Supplies (plastic bags and tools for packing food and cleaning) and expense for printing leaflets||881.94||E|
|Total|| EUR 18,629.01