Love In Action

Master is always deeply concerned when disasters occur in any part of the world. Upon hearing news of such events, She immediately provides financial assistance and sends relief teams. Through such efforts, Her unconditional love and support are conveyed to those affected, thus reducing their suffering while helping them to rebuild their lives.

In recognition of the selfless actions of governments, organizations and relief workers around the globe, Master expresses Her gratitude as follows: "Thank you, all the international help that brings care and necessities to afflicted victims. Thank you all the relief workers for taking time and forsaking your own comfort, even travelling great distance on unfavourable roads and conditions to bring love and assistance to people in a time of need. May Heaven bless you abundantly for your generosity and noble sacrifice."

2017年01月20日, 週五

    ~Updated Aug. 5~ Serving Vegan Food for Refugees on Chios Island, Greece

     

    By Korea and Chios Island International Relief Team (Originally in English)

    According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) – The UN Refugee Agency, in January and February of 2016, 122,637 people seeking refuge have arrived in Greece. With this number of people, comes the need to provide immediate assistance as they risk the journey in search of a safer home.

    Following Supreme Master Ching Hai’s compassionate instruction to provide relief during the ongoing refugee crisis, our Association members have been traveling from around the world to render aid to those in need. A relief team formed by our Korean Association members continues to bring aid to the refugees arriving on the Greek island of Chios.

    Refugees first arrive at the port of Chios Island and register at Vial camp. After registration, they are sent to three other main camps; Souda, Dipethe and Port camps, where they stay until their journey continues.

    Serving Vegan Meals at Several Refugee Camps on Chios Island, Greece – March 4, 2016

    On March 4, in addition to serving vegan lunch and dinner at Souda and Vial camp as usual, our relief team started to provide vegan food at the Port camp and at the new camp located in Dipethe. After lunch was served, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) kindly let us into the Vial camp building to serve dinner, as it started to rain heavily and the weather was cold. At night, a few of our team members went to the Port camp to distribute raincoats and hot packs to the refugees before they left. We pray God blesses them with a safe journey.

    The next day, only a few refugees arrived due to the weather conditions, so we served vegan soup to the 600 people who were staying at Souda camp, the 150 staying at Dipethe camp, and at the Port camp. At lunchtime, thanks to a donation from a kindhearted gentleman, we were able to distribute enough bread for everyone. At Souda camp, as we were about to leave, a bus carrying newly arrived refugees came in, so thankfully we were able to share the soup with the newcomers in time.

    Providing Vegan Lunch and Dinner at Souda Camp, Chios Island, Greece – March 6, 2016

    On Sundays, all the markets on Chios Island are usually closed, making it sometimes challenging to provide enough food for all the refugees. On March 6, we brought a vegan lunch to help feed the 700 to 900 people at Souda camp. There was not enough for everyone, but fortunately, one of the volunteers brought one more bag of bread, so every refugee received enough bread.

    At dinnertime, we distributed vegan food at Vial, Souda and Port camps. Soli Cafe, a local café run by volunteers to serve the refugees, assisted those in Dipethe camp. At Souda camp, we served food to approximately 900 refugees. Thankfully, our relief team members at Vial camp were able to bring some soup to us, so we had enough for everyone. Afterwards, we gave some vegan chocolates and biscuits to the children.

    Continuing to Serve Vegan Meals on Chios Island, Greece – March 7, 2016

    On March 7, 2016, our relief team on Chios Island served vegan soup to approximately 700 refugees at Souda camp. We also provided soup  at the Port camp while the refugees waited for the ferry to take them to Idomeni. Many refugees kindly came to help us organize the food distribution. Afterwards, we cleaned up the beach and the camp as usual, and some lovely children came to help us. Between lunch and dinnertime, the head chef of The People’s Street Kitchen, Mr. Ifty Patel, and one of our team members went to the Port camp to distribute some bananas.

    At dinnertime, about 150 refugees arrived at Vial camp. We divided into three teams and distributed vegan food at four different camps: Souda, Vial, Port and Dipethe. We first met up at Souda camp, which had a large number of refugees, and finished the distribution peacefully with the help of several young volunteers.

    Serving Vegan Meals at Souda and Port Camps, Chios Island, Greece – March 8, 2016

    On March 8, there were approximately 900 refugees on Chios Island and a few new arrivals. Our relief team worked with The People’s Street Kitchen to bring delicious vegan soup to the refugees at Souda and Port camps. Soli Café again assisted the refugees at Dipethe camp. We try to bring not only food, but also Master’s love and blessing to the refugees. Some of us played with the children after the vegan soup was served, making them laugh and smile.

    Today is also the last day for two of our Korean team members who have worked in Chios for almost one month. We thank them for their sincere dedication and wish them a safe journey home.

    Serving Vegan Meals at Vial, Souda and Port Camps, Chios Island, Greece – March 9, 2016

    With about 800 unexpected new arrivals, the number of refugees on Chios Island had reached 1,800 on March 9. As there were no other volunteers this day, our relief team managed to prepare and distribute vegan soup to Vial, Souda and Port camps.  At dinnertime, the number of refugees increased to 1,050 at Vial camp. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) kindly assisted us in organizing the food distribution.

    Working Together With Volunteers to Provide Vegan Lunch and Dinner, Chios Island, Greece – March 10, 2016

    On March 10, the number of refugees on Chios Island stayed around 1,800 to 2,000. It was busy at the The People’s Street Kitchen from early in the morning, as we made 10 pots of vegan soup to distribute for lunch, and another 11 pots to distribute for dinner. Because the main camps were not able to host all of the refugees, Tabakika camp reopened again. (Tabakika camp was the first refugee camp on Chios and it was closed for awhile.)

    Fortunately, many other volunteers joined us in providing food for the refugees. A Spanish kitchen team lent us two pots, and a Spanish rescue team helped us to distribute the vegan soup. Many other volunteers also visited the The People’s Street Kitchen and helped prepare vegetables and slice bread.

    We are so thankful for the help of those volunteers. With their assistance, it was possible for most refugees in Chios to receive a meal that day.

    Sharing Vegan Soup at Souda, Tabakika and Port Camps, Chios Island, Greece – March 11, 2016

    On March 11, many volunteers came to The People’s Street Kitchen to join us in preparing vegan soup for the refugees. We distributed the soup to those staying at Souda, Tabakika and Port camps on Chios Island. We also gave some vegan snacks and chocolates to little children at Port camp. At dinnertime, with warm and delicious soup, refugees spent time enjoying the meal and laughing with volunteers. It was estimated that around 1,500 refugees are still remaining on the island.

    Providing More Vegan Meals on Chios Island, Greece – March 12, 2016

    On March 12, our relief team on Chios Island served a vegan lunch and distributed oranges and bananas to the refugees in Souda camp. The Basque Kitchen has started to bring food to this camp every lunchtime as well. We also served a vegan dinner in Souda camp, Tabakika camp, Dipethe camp and Port camp, while three volunteers from the Netherlands helped us keep the children entertained with dolls and soap bubbles. The night before, eight boats full of refugees arrived and all went to Vial camp, which was taken care of by the government army.

    Providing Vegan Meals at Tabakika, Port and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece  – March 13 to 14, 2016

    As there were approximately 1,800 to 2,000 refugees on Chios Island, five different organizations worked together to provide food for the refugees, making sure everyone was covered. A Swiss and Spanish kitchen served lunch at Souda camp, while our relief team at The People’s Street Kitchen served vegan lunches and dinners at Tabakika, Port and Dipethe camps with help from a Basque rescue team.

    On March 13, while serving dinner, we shared vegan biscuits with everyone instead of bread, after the bread was all distributed. We also offered mandarins and dates at the port to the 300 refugees who were ready to leave the island that night.

    On March 14, the weather conditions were unsafe for traveling, as there were strong winds and high waves throughout the day, so no refugees arrived and few left the island. We continued serving vegan food as planned, and hoped that our loving soup would melt away the chills on the refugees’ shoulders.

    Continuing Relief Efforts on Chios Island, Greece – March 15, 2016

    As the weather conditions continued to be windy and cloudy on March 15, the number of refugees remained the same in the Souda, Tabakika, Dipethe and Port camps on Chios Island. Also due to the weather conditions, many of the refugees felt cold and unwell. Fortunately, our relief team was able to provide nutritious vegan soup consistently to different camps with loving assistance from many volunteers. Everyone worked together happily in The People’s Street Kitchen.

    Serving More Vegan Soup During Windy Weather on Chios Island, Greece – March 16, 2016

    Thanks to being able to use a kitchen run by Greek residents in Chios, we started lunch distribution for the refugees at 3pm and dinner at 7:30pm in Souda, Tabakika, Port, and Dipethe camps. The number of refugees at the camps did not change much because of the windy weather and high sea waves preventing travel.

    During the distribution, refugees who are already aware of our vegan soup lined up themselves and helped us with distributing the soup and interpreting. Because of the harsh wind, it was hard for refugees to eat outside. (It is not allowed to eat inside the camps due to hygiene concerns.)

    Continuing to Provide Vegan Meals for Refugees Staying in Chios Island Camps, Greece – March 17, 2016

    On March 17, we again started lunch distribution at 3pm at Souda, Tabakika, Port and Dipethe camps because other kitchens served refugees some food at 11am. This time we had enough bread so each person could have two pieces. Everyone was so happy!

    After the dinner distribution at Souda camp, refugees and volunteers spent time together and laughed a lot with each other. The weather became warmer than last night. Today, no new arrivals were reported.

    Welcoming New Refugees and Sharing Flowers and Balloons with the Children on Chios Island, Greece – March 18, 2016

    On March 18, as the weather was calm and peaceful, approximately 300 new refugees arrived. We immediately prepared vegan soup and gave it to them before they went to Vial camp for registration.

    At the other four camps, Souda, Tabakika, Dipethe and Port, we followed a similar schedule as before with a 3pm late lunch and 8pm for dinner. We had plenty of bread and were able serve them as much as they wanted.

    At Tabakika camp, our Association members entertained the children with flowers and balloons. The children were so happy with the balloons!

    Changing Situation for Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – March 19, 2016

    Following an agreement between Turkey and the European Union on March 18, the situation for the refugees on Chios Island completely changed. In a bid to discourage people taking the dangerous sea route to the Greek islands, all those who arrive on the islands illegally after March 20 will be sent back to Turkey. They will be assessed on an individual basis and those granted refugee status may be relocated in Europe.  As a result of this agreement, there was a rush for all refugees currently staying on the Greek islands to be sent to the mainland.

    On March 19, instead of serving vegan soup at the camps as usual, our Association members went to the port to say goodbye to the refugees who were waiting for the ferry to Athens. Later we visited Tabakika and Souda camps to see the number of refugees who still remained.

    The plan is that all the refugees will be sent to Athens by tomorrow, March 20, so we prepared three pots of vegan soup for the refugees who remained for tomorrow’s ferry. Despite the changing and unpredictable situation, the refugees seemed to remain positive.

    Our Association members went out to the port at 11:30pm to say goodbye and distribute vegan chocolates to the refugees who departed at 1am.

    We pray that God blesses and protects all refugees.

    Serving Vegan Meals for Refugees at the Port and Souda and Port Camps, Chios Island, Greece – March 20, 2016

    After the refugee agreement between the European Union and Turkey went into effect on March 20, many of the refugees staying on Chios Island left for Athens.

    Our relief team worked with The People’s Street Kitchen to continue serving warm, vegan soup. At noon, we heard that refugees had just arrived on the island by boat. We went to the port with the vegan soup and served lunch for the wet and hungry new arrivals. We also served dinner at Souda and Port camps to approximately 400 refugees who were waiting for the night ferry to Athens.

    We pray that God blesses and protects all refugees.

    Continuing Refugee Relief Efforts on Chios Island, Greece – March 21, 2016

    On Monday, March 21, there were approximately 35 people remaining at Souda camp, and 1,050 people at Vial camp registering for refugee status.

    We had two pots of vegan soup already prepared yesterday for the refugees, so our Association members and other volunteers cleaned up at The People’s Street Kitchen. We later went to support the dinner distribution at Vial camp. Although, over the past week, there has been difficulty accessing the camp due to strict police guard, and we were denied entry. Vial camp hired a catering service to deliver food for the refugees. Therefore, our duty was to standby and support the catering service if the food provided was not enough for everyone.

    Despite the changing situation on the island, we continue to try and do what we can do for the refugees.

    Serving Vegan Soup for Refugees at Vial and Souda Camps, Chios Island, Greece – March 22, 2016

    At noon on March 22, our relief team on Chios Island went to Vial camp with two pots of vegan soup. After waiting for a while, we were able to serve lunch along with another volunteer group from Basque for the 1,200 hungry refugees at the camp.

    Later, we prepared another four pots of vegan soup for dinner and distributed it to the 30 refugees at Souda camp. We also returned to Vial camp, but were unable to serve the soup due to a protest inside.

    We will continue trying to find ways to help wherever needed.

    Sharing More Vegan Soup with Refugees at Vial and Souda Camps, Chios Island, Greece – March 23, 2016 

    On March 23, there were around 1,200 refugees remaining in Vial camp and about 30 refugees in Souda camp. Our relief team on Chios Island had a chance to distribute warm and loving vegan soup for breakfast at Vial camp. It was a little bit crowded, but the refugees waited in line patiently. After that, we prepared another five pots for dinner, which we served to those in Souda camp before heading to Vial camp. However, due to a protest in the camp, we were not able to share the soup this time, so we decided to return for the next day’s breakfast distribution.

    Serving Meals for Refugees at Vial and Souda Camps, Chios Island, Greece – March 24, 2016

    On March 24, despite the difficult situation at Vial camp, where people are now being detained while they register for refugee status, our relief team on Chios Island worked with The People’s Street Kitchen (PSK) to make a total of 10 pots of vegan soup to serve the refugees. At breakfast time, we went to Vial camp and distributed the soup with the help from a Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet). The refugees were happy with our delicious, healthy, vegan food and biscuits.

    At lunchtime, we were only able to serve soup from the outside of the fence of the camp. One of the other volunteers did juggling to entertain the children. For the 30 people remaining at Souda camp, we prepared a special lunch for them with the choices of vegan pasta or soy protein and fried vegetable mix. We also distributed nuts and raisins.

    The next morning, the weather was peaceful and sunny. Together with PSK, we served more vegan soup for breakfast at Vial camp, and things went smoothly. Some of us played with the children and distributed vegan chocolates and balloons. The refugees who have stayed in the camp for a week wanted to know more information about their situation, and whether they would be able to continue their journey in search for a safer home. They were still waiting to receive their registration papers.

    At Souda camp, we again prepared a special meal for the 30 refugees as some of them were leaving for Athens that night.

    Working with Volunteers from A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet) to Serve Vegan Meals for the Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – March 26 to 28, 2016

    On the morning of March 26, our relief team on Chios Island, along with volunteers from A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), prepared vegetables for the vegan soup we would later serve at Vial camp for lunch and dinner. During the dinner distribution, the refugees sang a beautiful song.

    The next day, in addition to Vial camp, we also brought vegan soup to those at Souda camp. We had a nice dinner with volunteers from A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet) to celebrate Easter and to thank them for working with us to help serve vegan meals for the refugees.

    On March 28, we served vegan soup at Vial camp for the last time, as the camp authorities told us they have enough food for the refugees for now. At lunchtime, we also distributed lots of bread donated by the neighboring church. During the food distributions, we also spent time speaking and laughing with the refugees we met. We will continue to try our best to help those in need.

    We pray God blesses and protects all refugees.

    Serving Vegan Meals at Souda Camp and the Reopened Port Camp on Chios Island, Greece – March 29 to 31, 2016

    From March 29 to 31, our relief team served special meals, such as spaghetti and fried rice, in addition to the regular vegan soup to the approximately 15 refugees remaining in Souda camp. They appreciated the meals very much. We also served vegan soup to 200 people on March 31 at Port camp, which was reopened for the refugees coming to Chios Island. We expect that the number of refugees will increase at the Port camp in the next few days.

    Serving Refugees Vegan Meals at Souda and Port Camps and at the Port, Chios Island, Greece – April 1 to 2, 2016

    On April 1, our relief team on Chios Island served lunch at Souda and Port camp, where a total of 300 refugees were staying. There were also other volunteers distributing clothes, baby items and necessities for refugees at Port camp. In the evening, upon learning that some refugees from Vial camp arrived at the port before heading to Athens, we prepared dinner for them. Ultimately, another kitchen provided food to them, so the next day we served an early lunch to them instead, in addition to Souda camp and Port camp. One of our team members left for Athens after finishing his work here.

    Serving Vegan Meals for Refugees at Souda Camp and the Port, Chios Island, Greece – April 4 to 5, 2016

    As the number of refugees increased to as high as 1,000 on Chios Island, our relief team and two other volunteer groups took turns serving meals at Souda Camp and at the port.

    On April 4, our team and The People’s Street Kitchen served nutritious, vegan soup at both Souda Camp and the port. However at dinnertime, we were unable to serve at the port, as there was a demonstration being held and authorities restricted distributions for safety reasons.

    The next morning, as well as preparing vegan soup for the refugees, some of us worked together with volunteers from other NGOs and made approximately 1,000 dry food packages containing raisins and various nuts including peanuts, walnuts, cashews and pistachios. All the refugees were very grateful and loved the packages.

    Throughout our time on Chios Island, we have seen many compassionate individuals quietly helping the refugees. For example, at the parking lot of a supermarket, we met a woman who bought a lot of orange juice for the refugees. She told us that she always saves some money from her salary to buy food for the refugees, as she feels deeply sympathetic for them. Seeing the tears in her eyes as she spoke, we felt very touched.

    Relief Activities at Souda Camp, Chios Island, Greece – April 6, 2016

    On April 6, our relief team on Chios Island served four large pots of vegan soup at Souda camp for lunch and dinner with the help of two volunteers from Switzerland. Even though they do not belong to any NGO, they came all the way to Chios Island to help the refugees in person. At The People’s Street Kitchen where we work, many volunteers from different countries come every day to help us prepare vegetables and serve soup. Despite our different backgrounds, we feel as if we are a global family taking care of our brothers and sisters in difficult situations. On this warm and sunny day, the children enjoyed swimming and playing at the beautiful beach in front of the camp. Some of our team members also joined them.

    Serving Vegan Soup to Refugees and Volunteers at Souda Camp, Dipethe Camp and at the Port, Chios Island, Greece – April 7 to 9, 2016

    On April 7, our relief team on Chios Island was happy to serve warm, nutritious, vegan soup at the port to 300 refugees who have been staying there without sleeping bags, mats or tents. We also served four large pots of vegan soup at Souda camp. Staff members of UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) – The UN Refugee Agency working at the camp were surprised by the nice flavors of our soup. Our secret ingredients were just fresh vegetables and love.

    The next morning, we found out all the refugees at the port were transferred to Dipethe camp, and had not eaten anything since moving there. We rushed to prepare the vegan soup, and brought it to the camp right away. We met some of the children whom we knew from Vial camp, and gave them vegan chocolates and oranges as well.

    On April 9, we enjoyed a vegan breakfast with other volunteers. Every day, we cook enough food for the volunteers and visitors who come to our kitchen, so they may try delicious vegan foods. We also serve them soy protein and vegan cheese. Everyone enjoys the vegan food, so our kitchen is a great place to introduce the plant-based diet to many people.

    At lunchtime, we served a total of three pots of vegan soup to the refugees at Souda and Dipethe camps with volunteers from the Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet). After serving, we played with the refugees’ children, and gave them vegan chocolates and oranges.

    Providing More Vegan Meals at Souda and Dipethe Camps and Thinking Positively, Greece – April 10, 2016

    On April 10, our relief team served a vegan lunch at Souda camp and Dipethe camp on Chios Island. After that, with the help from five Canadian university students, we made about 1,000 food packages using 300 kilograms of peanuts and 100 kilograms raisins sent by our Athens relief team.

    At dinnertime, we went to Dipethe camp to serve vegan soup and distribute the food packages, while another team of volunteers went to Souda camp. Some of the refugees helped us manage the distribution in Dipethe camp, and it went smoothly. However, the situation in Souda camp was more difficult, and our team had to stop serving soup for safety reasons.

    Gathering together at night, we discussed ways to improve our work and decided to change serving time to 6pm instead of 8pm because it seems the camp is calmer during the daytime. A volunteer from the The People’s Street Kitchen shared his experience with us. He said he had many challenging days since he opened this kitchen, but he always got through the tough period and started anew. He tried to think positively and changed himself instead of complaining about the situation. It was because he thought the refugees need help and there were many good people supporting his work. We were so touched by his positive attitude.

    Providing Clothing Items and Vegan Food for Refugees at Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – April 11 to 12, 2016

    On April 11, our relief team on Chios Island picked up the requested shoes and clothing items from a warehouse for a refugee family who had lost their luggage. Kostas, who is also the owner of The People’s Street Kitchen building we are using, managed the warehouse. He is a local of the island and has on many occasions loaded supplies into his car to give to the refugees.

    When the family who had lost their luggage received the needed items, they were very grateful, and called us “good friends.” The mother wanted to know about our Association, so we gave her the related websites and the Facebook link. One of our team members surprised many refugees who had worn-out shoes with new ones he gave to them.
    The next day, some of our team members and the coordinator of The People’s Street Kitchen went to an orange farm to pick oranges for distribution, as the kind owner of the farm willingly offered his oranges to the refugees for free.

    On both April 11 and 12, we served vegan soup to the refugees at Souda and Dipethe camps. We also distributed oranges and packages of peanuts.

    Distributing Fruit and Serving Vegan Soup at Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – April 13, 2016

    On the morning of April 13, together with volunteers from The People’s Street Kitchen, our relief team on Chios Island went to the beautiful orange farm again. We picked many oranges so the refugees could receive two oranges each. The weather was getting warmer, so we thought the refugees would appreciate more fruits. Our deepest gratitude to the owner of the farm.

    In the afternoon, we distributed peanuts and the oranges to the refugees at Souda and Dipethe camps, before serving vegan soup for lunch. At Dipethe camp, a couple of little girls helped pass cups to one of our team members who served the vegan soup. Everybody smiled seeing the young helpers. We also brought the eldest son of a family of eight at Souda camp to the supplies warehouse, where he chose what his family needed. He was very polite, and did not take more than they needed. We were very impressed by his good manner and noble spirit.

    Continued Support for Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – April 14 to 15, 2016

    On April 14, our relief team welcomed three new members from the United States. After seeing the refugees’ situation, their hearts were moved. One of the new members is Aulacese and he said he used to be a refugee, so he could really identify with them.

    At lunchtime, we served vegan soup with The People’s Street Kitchen staff to the 700 refugees at Souda camp. They loved the soup because it was usually the first warm food for them since the morning.

    The next day, in addition to providing soup for lunch in Souda camp, we also prepared drinking water for the refugees, upon learning that drinking water was only available in the morning. The refugees also do not have hot water for taking showers and some bathe in the sea in front of the Souda camp. After lunch, we gave cookies to the children. We went to six supermarkets to buy approximately 200 cookies. Because some items are not always available, we learned to order things in advance for next time. We also picked up some coloring books, colored pencils and dolls from the refugee supply warehouse and gave them to the children at Dipethe camp. They loved these gifts.

    The manager of The People’s Street Kitchen always wears a T-shirt printed with the message “Escape from war and violence is not a crime.” He said that he feels a responsibility to take care of the refugees as a European citizen. We were all inspired by his words and example.

    Providing Vegan Food, Drinking Water, and Other Needed Supplies to Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – April 16 to 18, 2016

    From April 16 to 18, as well as serving vegan soup to the refugees in Souda and Dipethe camps with the assistance from The People’s Street Kitchen, our relief team on Chios Island also distributed oranges freshly picked from a local farm. The kind farmer gave us permission to pick from many of his trees whenever we want.

    One of our team members brought two big containers of drinking water for the refugees at Souda camp. Some of us participated in fun activities with the children of the refugees at Dipethe camp. Even though it was short, everyone had a wonderful time.

    One afternoon, we went to a warehouse and prepared several boxes of clothes and shoes for the refugees at Dipethe camp. One refugee who could speak English helped us distribute them. Whenever we saw the refugees who tried to help us, we felt all of us were one.

    Implementation of the European Union-Turkey Agreement on Chios Island, Greece – April 19 to 22, 2016

    After saying farewell to our diligent and hardworking cooking team members from Korea on April 18, the remaining team members set about continuing to provide vegan meals to asylum seekers staying in both the Souda and Dipethe camps. We were very grateful to be able to continue serving the refugees in this way.

    On April 22, one of our team members joined the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) – The UN Refugee Agency meeting where one of the attendees representing the Greek police force elaborated on how they were implementing the European Union-Turkey agreement of March 18, 2016. The officer explained that all refugees arriving in Greece after March 20, 2016 are given the opportunity to apply for asylum in Greece. Once their application process has started, they will remain at the closed registration camp or hotspot in Vial. Hotspot is the name given to camps where there are reception facilities to register refugees. After some protests inside the camp and growing tensions, the Vial camp/hotspot has now been divided into two parts. The first part is for refugees who have been on Chios Island for less than 25 days. These people can only stay in that part of the camp and cannot move out of the camp. The second part is for the asylum seekers who have been on the island for longer than 25 days and they are free to move in and out of that part of the camp or if they wish to move somewhere else on the island, they can.

    Regarding the European Union-Turkey deal, once the asylum process is completed and if the applicant was not successful, he/she will be returned to Turkey where he/she will have the opportunity to seek asylum there. Or if a person has arrived in Greece from Turkey after March 20 and does not wish to seek asylum in Greece, then he/she too will be returned to Turkey.

    The police officer explained that the military is in charge of providing food for the people staying in Vial and that no unregistered NGOs are permitted to enter the hotspot. He also made the point that NGOs, volunteers, local authorities, police and the military need to cooperate with each other to best help people fleeing their own countries, seeking asylum elsewhere.

    Dividing the hotspot in Vial into two is a new idea to help appease the growing tensions in the camp. If it is successful, this may influence registration hotspots on the other islands to implement this concept and hopefully better serve the people seeking asylum.

    Working to Prepare a Variety of Meals for Refugees at Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – April 23, 2016

    On April 23, our cooking team on Chios Island, along with some independent volunteers who regularly help out at the The People’s Street Kitchen (PSK), prepared plenty of lettuce, cabbage, carrots and an assortment of other vegetables to make a tasty and nutritious salad for people staying at both the Souda and Dipethe camps. We also served bread with the salad. It was a refreshing change for the refugees, especially now that the weather is warming up.

    The very kind local, Kostas, who has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to help the Chios PSK continue to serve vegan meals to the refugees, was able to borrow a vegetable slicer from one of the local stores to help us with cutting the ingredients for the salad. He is to return it soon, but we asked Kostas to inquire about how much it costs because it is likely we will be able to purchase it, as it is very useful.

    Previously, when the country borders along the Balkan route were open and hundreds of refugees would arrive on the Greek islands from Turkey on a daily basis, refugees would stay on the island for a couple of days to a week before moving to the mainland to continue through to other European countries. Thus, making one type of meal that was quick to prepare, economical and nutritious at the same time, was suitable for that situation. Now that people are staying at the refugee camps until their asylum applications are processed, which may take months, we will look at changing the menu every two or three days so that they consume a variety of nutritious meals.

    We hope the asylum applications are processed smoothly and in a timely manner, and are grateful to the Greek authorities and the people of Greece for opening their country and their hearts to help others fleeing their own country for their lives.

    Bringing the Flavors of Home to Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – April 24-25, 2016

    On April 24, our relief team on Chios Island made vegan food for the people staying at the Souda and Dipethe camps. Some of the refugees told us they missed the food with flavors from their own cuisine, so we spoke with a Syrian man named Abet. He introduced us to his wife, Amina, who is an excellent cook. We invited her and Abet to come by The People’s Street Kitchen the following day to show us some sample Syrian recipes.

    It was good timing because our new team members from Formosa arrived early in the morning of April 25, so they were able to witness the sample cooking as well. The couple showed us how to cook homemade Syrian dishes, such as rice and potato soup. They also made tomato soup, which included lemon juice. We decided to change the way we cook and hope our refugee friends would be pleasantly surprised by the familiar flavor of home.

    In the afternoon, several members from the Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), came to help us fix the gas pipes. They also delivered oranges to us to be distributed in both camps. Later, we went to Souda camp to contribute some shoes to refugees.

    Providing Clothing at Souda Camp, Meeting with NGOs, and Listening to Three Refugee Women’s Stories, Chios Island, Greece – April 26, 2016

    On April 26, our relief team on Chios Island bought some slippers for the refugees and also distributed clothes in Souda camp in the morning. The clothes were from a warehouse that stores items contributed for refugees. Later, we attended a meeting with many volunteers and NGOs of different nations to discuss ways to distribute food more efficiently, so that the 700 refugees in Souda camp and the 300 in Dipethe camp will be taken care of, especially the children, the pregnant women and those who are weak.

    In the afternoon, three Syrian young women, Latifa, Azada and Farah, came to our kitchen for food. They walked here from the hospital. The hospital is a 3-hour walk from Vial camp where they live. As one of them had low blood pressure, we called a taxi to take them home after giving them food. They told us that several months ago, they escaped from their country to Turkey, but the robbers took away everything. Then they managed to come to Chios island, but Latifa’s husband got lost on the way. Now, they take care of each other and wait for the coming of peace, like so many other refugees here. May peace be here soon!

    Serving Vegan Meals in Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – April 27 to 30, 2016

    On April 27, our team served two vegan meals each at Souda camp and Dipethe camp. One meal was soup with bread and the other was salad with bread. Since our chef changed the recipes to have a more Syrian flavor, our food has become very popular in the camps. There are hundreds of refugees coming from Turkey, so we were prepared to serve more food in the following days.

    On April 28, we brought vegan bread, soup, rice and toast to the refugees in Souda camp, including the 72 newcomers in the new tent set up by the United Nations. We made sure everyone got enough food. An elderly man told us that nine boats landed on another island two days ago. He was there to ask for help. The number of refugees was still increasing. There were more than 1,000 people in Souda and Dipethe camps. Also, there are two more camps on Chios Island.

    In order to better provide nutritious vegan food for all the refugees in Souda and Dipethe camps, we plan to find out the number of individuals who have special dietary needs, including pregnant women and children younger than 24 months.

    On the morning of April 29, we went to pick more oranges for the refugees at the invitation of the kind farmer who promised that he would continue providing the fruit for a long time.

    In the evening, when we were ready to go to the camps, a man from Albania came to ask if he could help us distributing food. Our relief team has been here for several months, and we hoped more people would join us to share food and love with the refugees.

    The next day, April 30, was Easter in Greece. It is a big holiday and many people had the next three days off. The night before, a lot of them went to the church and prayed. For this special day, we prepared vegan bread, soup and salad for the dinner. The refugees loved the salad very much and we had enough for everyone to get a second helping. However, we heard there was not enough food in other camps on the island. We felt sorry that we were not able to serve all the refugees, as our ten members have been serving over 1,100 people in two camps. We sincerely prayed that the situation would get better, so that people could have a stable and peaceful living situation.

    Changing to More Popular Vegan Soup Recipes for Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – May 1 to 2, 2016

    On May 1, after providing lentil soup to the refugees in Souda and Dipethe camps for two weeks, our relief team on Chios Island decided to change the recipe to make potato soup with onions and tomatoes. All the refugees loved the soup and gave us a thumbs-up in approval. Realizing that the cuisine of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria are not the same, we will try to achieve a balance and serve the food with the flavor that the most people would like. We have also ordered sandals for the refugees and will distribute them in both camps after the Easter holiday.

    On the morning of May 2, we had a meeting with Ian, a volunteer from Switzerland who is also in charge of food cooperation. We discussed with him how to adjust the recipes and how to distribute clothes from the warehouse. Ian decided to temporarily close the warehouse until finding the best way to distribute the clothing, after meeting with other groups and considering many reasons.

    Many refugee families have growing children who need more clothes and food. We wish we could provide everything for them. Some refugees want to move to Athens to seek a better living and we have tried to explain to them that, as far as we know, the situation there is more or less the same as Chios. We pray that all the families will be able to settle down in the places they want to rebuild their lives soon.

    Serving Syrian Soup on Chios Island, Greece – May 3 to 7, 2016

    On May 3, a Swiss volunteer named Ian taught our relief team on Chios Island how to make Syrian soup with onions, potatoes and seasonings.

    We have made many friends of volunteers through this relief work. For example, Han, a Polish girl who is very kind to the refugees, always helps us serve meals to them. Klodja, an Albanian man, often helps us lift the heavy pots. Even though we do not speak the same language as Klodja, we still find a way to communicate with each other using body language.

    In the next few days, we tried the new recipe and the refugees all loved the flavor. They were so happy to eat real Syrian food while being far away from home. The vegetable porridge created by our chef who has 20 years of restaurant experience was also well received.

    Apart from serving meals in Dipethe and Souda camps, we purchased and distributed shoes and clothes. The children helped with cleaning up the camp. Afterwards, we gave them vegan chocolate. We are trying to set up drawing classes in camps as well.

    We were happy to hear that our suppliers may provide vegan cheese for salad next week. It will provide another good opportunity for us to introduce the vegan lifestyle to those coming to The People’s Street Kitchen.

    Mother’s Day and Serving Refugees at Dipethe and Souda Camps, Chios Island, Greece – May 8 to 10, 2016

    On May 8, to celebrate Mother’s day, special activities were organized in Dipethe camp. A volunteer from an NGO group dressed up as a clown and played with children. Our relief team on Chios Island also enjoyed a special meal prepared by one of our team members.

    The number of refugees in Dipethe and Souda camps were changing. In Souda camp, there seemed to be more people waiting for food compared to last week, and we unfortunately did not have enough food to serve them all.

    On May 10, we brought salad and bread for dinner, after serving the afternoon tea to the refugees in Dipethe and Souda camps. We will change to another kind of tea that is more to their taste instead of the green tea. Fresh salad was very welcomed by the refugees during the hotter weather. Some of them asked us to provide more, so we will discuss the possibility of serving salad twice a week. We also plan to purchase the required daily supplies such as towels, T-shirts and shoes for them, as the warehouse that stores donated items for the refugees was closed.

    Repairs at The People’s Street Kitchen and Serving Vegan Meals at Dipethe and Souda Camps, Chios Island, Greece – May 11, 2016

    On May 11, a Greek volunteer from the Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), came to The People’s Street Kitchen to fix the gas pipes and the floor for us. He often helps us in our work, like lifting the heavy pots. When he comes to our kitchen, he enjoys our vegan meals and receives more information about the vegan lifestyle. He finds it not difficult to live a vegan life.

    When we served a vegan lunch in the Dipethe camp, we distributed several boxes of clothes to the refugees as well. The situation of the Souda camp is better now and distributing the vegan meal went smoothly.

    Seeing More People Wanting to Help the Refugees, Chios Island, Greece – May 12 to 13, 2016

    On May 12 and 13, our relief team on Chios Island continued serving vegan food to the refugees. The weather was getting hotter, so we decided to make a delicious salad three times a week. We mixed cabbages, carrots, onions, cucumbers and lettuce together with a dressing. We hoped everyone enjoyed the meal.

    There were two women from Ireland who have been helping us for a week. They love Chios and the refugees. They bought three baby carriers for mothers and helped us prepare vegetables and serve food. A Dutch woman came to The People’s Street Kitchen one afternoon, wanting to donate some money for the refugees. She said she hopes that everyone could share their love to change this crazy world. We felt the same. She was happy that we were there to serve the refugees. We did not accept they money, as we are funded by the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association.

    We were encouraged to see more people coming to Chios to contribute. Some of them donate money, some of them donate their time, and the others donate their love. Many groups from different countries have stayed here for several months to help care for the refugees.

    Volunteers Help Prepare and Serve Vegan Meals at Souda Camp, and More Tourists Arrive on Chios Island, Greece – May 14 to 16, 2016

    We had three volunteers from Germany join The People’s Street Kitchen on May 15. They helped us for a week by cutting bread and serving dinner in the Souda camp. They told us that there are many refugees in Germany and they hope every refugee will have a better life. To reduce the number of people standing in line for food in Souda camp, the refugees divided into groups and each group sent a representative to pick up the meals with a food card recording how many adults and children in the group. In the afternoon, the Polish girl, Han, usually takes many children and women from Souda camp to the beach to have a good time.

    There are more and more tourists coming to Chios Island these days. Some of them bring candy, toys and other gifts to the refugee children, and some want to donate money or volunteer to help the refugees. We recommend everyone to first contact the existing NGOs such as Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), Basque Kitchen and The People’s Street Kitchen to ensure that the distributions are carried out peacefully and efficiently.

    Spanish Volunteers Join Us as More Refugees Arrive on Chios Island, Greece – May 17 to 18, 2016

    On May 17, two volunteers from Spain joined our relief team on Chios Island. They quit their jobs to come here to help the refugees. In order to save money, they will live in a tent and take showers at a café owner’s place. They helped us cut bread and lift the heavy pots. Serving salad for dinner takes a lot of preparation work and we were happy to have so many helpers.

    The next day, after serving a vegan lunch, we saw two ships coming to the port with many people in life vests. With the newcomers, the number of refugees in Souda and Dipethe camps increased to more than 1,500, so we unfortunately did not have enough food prepared at dinnertime for everyone in the camps. We hope peace will come soon so that people will not have to travel to other countries for a safe life.

    Working with Volunteers to Serve Vegan Meals to More Than 1,600 Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – May 19 to 23, 2016

    With more than 1,600 refugees staying in the camps on Chios Island, our relief team and other volunteers worked harder to keep up with the meal serving from May 19 to 23. Due to three confirmed cases of tuberculosis, we had to wear masks in the camp. We hope that they will soon regain health in the hospital. Sadly, there was not enough food for everyone and it was becoming increasingly challenging to keep order at mealtime. However, our team was determined to stay and serve them as long as we could.

    Continuing to Provide Fresh Vegan Soup, Salad, and Bread to Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – May 27 to 29, 2016

    Each day, our relief team on Chios Island worked at The People’s Street Kitchen with other volunteers to prepare a vegan dinner for 1,600 refugees in Souda and Dipethe camps. Volunteers from the Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), helped us distribute the food in an organized and orderly fashion. Our menu alternates between vegan soup and salad, complete with freshly baked bread. Our head chef determines the amount of food to be prepared and always ensures that everything is made fresh.

    From May 27 to 29, new team members joined us, while we bade a warm farewell to two Korean members who left for home after having dedicated three months to helping the refugees. Kitchen work is difficult, but also rewarding. It was heartwarming to see the refugees enjoy the food we prepared with love.

    Meeting with other NGOs and Serving More Healthy Vegan Salad to Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – May 30 to 31, 2016

    On May 30, four of our relief team members on Chios Island attended a meeting at the Municipal Office with members from other NGOs including UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) – The UN Refugee Agency; United States-based organizations: Save the Children and Samaritan’s Purse; and Norway-based A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet); to discuss key concerns and ways to further help the refugees. The local Greek Police and a representative from the European Commission were also present. Safety was among the list of topics discussed. Many people shared their ideas on how to better maintain peace in both Souda and Dipethe camps. A follow up meeting will be held later.

    The next day, our team prepared five pots of healthy vegan salad for the 1,600 refugees, using fresh vegetables mixed with homemade vinaigrette dressing and garnished with shredded vegan cheese. Camp members were quite impressed to know that such a delicious meal did not include any animal products.

    Working in Unison to Prepare Vegan Meals for Souda and Dipethe Camps, and Planning Meals for Ramadan, Chios Island, Greece – June 1 to 2, 2016

    On June 1, working with volunteers from The People’s Street Kitchen, our relief team on Chios Island served vegan lentil soup for lunch and vegan congee (vegetable and rice soup) for dinner at Souda and Dipethe camps. We also served salad for dinner on June 2 at the camps. On each salad day, after fresh produce was delivered by a truck, our team would immediately start washing and preparing the produce for meals. Even though the weather conditions were very warm, our team members and volunteers worked cheerfully in unison to complete the task of making meals for 1,600 people.

    With the upcoming Ramadan, a one-month fasting period for Muslims worldwide, it was anticipated that there will be a special food requirement for many refugees, as they will only be eating before dawn and after sunset according to the tradition, and spend most of their time in prayers. Thus, two of our relief team members attended food coordination meetings on both days with other NGOs, volunteers and a representative from the Greek Army to ensure proper meals are prepared during this sacred period. It was decided that additional foods such as nuts and dried fruits will be provided to the refugees. We wish our Muslim brothers and sisters in refugee camps a blessed Ramadan.

    Providing Vegan Congee and Salad to Refugees in Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – June 3 to 4, 2016

    On June 3 and 4, our relief team on Chios Island served vegan congee (vegetable and rice soup) and salad to refugees in Souda and Dipethe camps. Volunteers from A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), a Norwegian NGO, assisted us with the salad preparation as well as distribution. The water supply for our team was from a natural water fountain in town.

    At Souda camp, our salad was so popular that it soon ran out. To ensure no one went to bed hungry, our head chef brought a pot of congee, which was also all eaten in the end. Working together efficiently, our team stayed well after sunset. It was an enriching and fun experience, as the children were also involved and helped serve the food. We were very grateful to Dimitris, a local Greek engineer, who set up a movable structure with a piece of cloth on top in Souda camp to provide loving shade for the refugees waiting in line for food.

    The Beginning of Ramadan at Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – June 5 to 6, 2016

    In preparation for the start of Ramadan, extra food was provided for the refugees in Souda and Dipethe camps on June 5 to ensure they had something to eat before the fast begins. A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), a Norwegian NGO, provided breakfast at the camps the next morning while our relief team served dinner. Each individual came up to our tables with their food card to receive delicious, vegan green lentil soup, bread and fruit. At Souda camp, four pots of soup were finished in no time and our relief members stayed to help distribute fresh fruit to those who did not have a chance to receive soup. The recipients graciously welcomed the food with smiles.

    The next morning when our team arrived at The People’s Street Kitchen, we found our very dedicated Swiss-German volunteer, Lukas, sitting at the doorstep preparing potatoes for the day’s soup. We quickly joined him and worked attentively following Lukas’s remarkable example. He is a volunteer of whom our team members have grown quite fond.

    With the start of Ramadan, our team would serve lunch around 1pm for the remainder of the holy period. Food distribution went smoothly on June 6. At Souda camp, a Syrian man and two Afghan men invited us to join them for lunch. Sharing their portions of soup and bread with two of our team members, the group shared stories of hardships and laughter. It was a heartfelt communion.

    Vegan Lunches for Refugees at Souda and Dipethe Camps, and Attending a Food Coordination Meeting, Chios Island, Greece – June 7 to 8, 2016

    On June 7, our relief team on Chios Island served a nutritious salad, and on June 8, we served a hearty vegan soup for lunch in Souda and Dipethe camps. The salad was very welcomed on the hot day and ran out fairly quickly. Luckily we had extra bread to give out.

    We attended another food coordination meeting in which the Greek government and local municipality thanked the hard work of all the volunteers for providing meals to the refugees since December last year. It is remarkable how volunteer groups have been able to sustain the demand for such a long period of time. Ideas were exchanged at the meeting on how to transition this challenging task of food distribution to a government agency so that the dedicated volunteers could take on a supporting role.

    More Cooling Vegan Salad for Refugees, and Meeting with Kostas, a Supporter of Our Work, Chios Island, Greece – June 9, 2016

    On June 9, as soon as the door of The People’s Street Kitchen was opened in the morning, our relief team on Chios Island worked diligently to prepare a lunch salad of cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes and vegan cheese. Our hard work paid off, as there were no leftovers after serving refugees. The salad helps to keep them cool during Greece’s hot summer days.

    Afterwards, we were invited by Kostas, a supporter of our work, to his restaurant and enjoyed an authentic vegan Greek dinner. Together we discussed plans to improve food distribution methods in the camps. We would like to give a big thank to beautiful Kostas for his hospitality, love, and continued dedication in supporting the refugees.

    Vegan Lunch for the Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – June 10, 2016

    On June 10, our relief team on Chios Island prepared vegan soup for lunch for those staying in Souda and Dipethe camps. While we were working, a group of young refugees stopped by The People’s Street Kitchen to express their gratitude for our dedication to help the refugees, and gave us peaches as gifts. We were deeply touched by their courtesy and generosity, and felt more determined to continue our work.

    At the lunch distribution, a young girl injured her one of her feet, and the young Swiss German volunteer named Lukas immediately tended to her injury. Meanwhile, four volunteers from a Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet) assisted us in preparing 1,500 packages containing raisins and peanuts, which will be distributed to the refugees as special treats for Ramadan.

    Distributing Goody Bags at Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – June 11 to 12, 2016

    In the early morning of June 11, our relief team on Chios Island loaded the van with the packaged goody bags that contained raisins and peanuts, and delivered them to both Souda and Dipethe camps. The volunteers from the Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), kindly helped us distribute the bags, as our team returned to the kitchen to prepare salad for lunch. We were happy to hear that the goodies were extremely well received by the refugees. We plan to give out more treats for Ramadan. Upon the request of the refugees, we omitted onions from the salad today and added more carrots instead. We appreciate the feedback from the refugees so that we can provide food to their liking.

    The next day, after distributing vegan congee (vegetable and rice soup) in both camps, and cleaning up the kitchen, we met with the volunteers from the Basque Kitchen and discussed ways to improve food preparation and distribution. We thank their dedicated efforts and their sincere hospitality. Then with the help from Kostas, a supporter of our work, we began packing dates to make 775 goody bags for tomorrow’s distribution. May these sweet treats bring delight to those who receive them.

    Distributing Vegan Meals and Packages of Dates for Ramadan on Chios Island, Greece – June 13 to 14, 2016

    On June 13, our relief team on Chios Island bid farewell to our youngest American team member who had dedicated the last two months to serving the refugees by doing camera work, driving and acting as a vegan spokesperson, a balloon man and an assistant to the chef. His loving and energetic presence will surely be missed.

    For lunch distribution, we prepared delicious green lentils, veggies and 15 bags of freshly baked bread. Two of our team members worked together with volunteers from the Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet) and prepared over 1,700 bags of dates. Around 500 packages were handed out in the evening when the Basque Kitchen was distributing dinners in Dipethe camp. The rest were given out in Souda camp by the A Drop in the Ocean team together with their breakfast distribution the next day. The dates were much appreciated by the refugees as they provided extra energy during the Ramadan fasting period.

    On June 14, our team distributed a vegan salad for lunch at both Dipethe and Souda camps. While we were at Souda camp, a BBC crew filmed our food distribution activity and requested an interview afterwards. They were interested in knowing about the various volunteer kitchens feeding the refugees on Chios Island, as the situation is unique here. Normally the government or the army takes care of providing food to the refugees in other camps in Greece; however, on Chios Island the volunteer kitchens have been the main meal providers. Thanks to all involved for contributing their time and energy in providing aid to our fellow human beings.

    Attending Another Food Coordination Meeting and Continued Vegan Food Service for Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – June 17 to 18, 2016

    On June 17, after distributing vegan soup to the refugees, our relief team on Chios Island attended a food coordination meeting organized by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), United States-based Samaritan’s Purse, and the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) – The UN Refugee Agency. They offered kind financial contributions for food to support the continuous work of the three volunteer kitchens: Basque Kitchen, The People’s Street Kitchen and Norway-based A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet).

    The next day, we brought delicious vegan salad to Souda and Dipethe camps. The children ran up to receive food before returning to swim in the nearby sea. Our vegan cheese and bread combination have been quite popular and the Basque Kitchen began to serve vegan cheese with their meals as well.

    Serving Vegan Soup and Distributing Special Ramadan Snacks to Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – June 19 to 20, 2016

    On June 19, our relief team on Chios Island started the day by going to a local supermarket to purchase groceries for the day’s lunch. Afterwards, we prepared the carrots, potatoes and onions to make lentil soup for the refugees. In addition, two of our team members worked diligently with volunteers and managed to pack 1,700 bags of peanuts and raisins in about two and a half hours for Ramadan observers. Late in the evening, these treats were loaded into the van ready for the morning transport.

    At breakfast time on June 20, one of our members traveled to both Souda and Dipethe camps and delivered the packaged goodies. The treats were happily distributed by volunteers to long lines of camp members, leaving not a single bag left. We also served congee (vegetable and rice soup), and a new type of fluffier and more filling bread, which received positive feedback from the refugees. We thank all volunteers who dedicate long hours of their precious time assisting in meal preparations as well as distributions.

    Working to Provide Enjoyable Vegan Meals at Souda and Dipethe Camps During the Summer Heat, Chios Island, Greece – June 21 to 22, 2016

    On June 21, our relief team on Chios Island worked together with volunteers from Italy, Scotland and the United Kingdom to prepare and distribute a lunch salad in Souda and Dipethe camps. Our head chef spoke with a few refugees to learn about the additional food items they may enjoy. We will incorporate these requests into future meals.

    The vegan noodle soup we introduced in Souda camp the next day received a great response, as the pots were completely emptied. Although the increasing heat makes soup serving more difficult, the recipients are content as long as the customary flavors are met. Our head chef brought some extra French bread loaves, which many women appreciated very much as they were able to feed the small children. For those who did not want soup, cups were given so they are able to drink water, tea, or coffee. We are trying hard to meet the needs of the refugees with the limited available resources.

    Introducing a New Dish, and Working with Volunteers to Help Refugees, Chios Island, Greece – June 23 to 25, 2016

    From June 23 to 25, our relief team on Chios Island served colorful vegan salad and introduced fideo (Spanish noodles) soup to the refugees in Souda and Dipethe camps. Since the implementation of the food cards by the Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), the process of food distribution has improved dramatically. Queues have moved more smoothly and each family is allocated food based on the information provided. In the coming days, these cards will be updated to include the special needs of certain people such as the pregnant women and toddlers.

    In the early morning of June 24, two of our relief team members drove to the small town of Karfas and worked with independent volunteers and those from Khalsa Aid, a United Kingdom-based NGO, and A Drop in the Ocean to pack dates for the refugees. Almost 1,800 goody bags were prepared for the next day’s breakfast distribution during the holy month of Ramadan.

    We are the only kitchen that provides healthy, vegan meals to the refugees. Volunteers who come and help are pleasantly surprised by our tasty foods. We provide a source for people to see and understand how a vegan meal is prepared and have debunked any myths or uncertainties around the plant-based diet.

    We also attended another food coordination meeting, addressing key issues the volunteers are facing in the work. Everyone cooperates with each other for the same ideal and work hard to find the best possible way to provide food to the refugees.

    Volunteer Groups Helping Each Other Serve the Refugees, Chios Island, Greece June 26 to 27, 2016

    On June 26, our relief team on Chios Island distributed fresh congee (rice soup mixed with carrots, potatoes and spices) for lunch at Souda and Dipethe camps. Later in the evening, we were contacted by Basque Kitchen for emergency help as they ran out of food during their dinner distribution. Responding to their call, we immediately loaded the van with a pot of congee along with ladles, cups and spoons. Their volunteers were extremely happy to see us arriving in Souda camp so quickly. Together, we distributed the additional food to anyone who asked.

    The next day, we served green lentil and veggie soup. The British NGO, Samaritan’s Purse, was present during the distribution and made notes on the number of food portions given out. Their goal was to assess the situation and provide support to all the volunteer kitchens during their one-month commitment. We thank all the volunteers for selflessly providing aid to the people in need.

    Delivering Fresh Peaches to Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – June 28 to 29, 2016

    On June 28, our relief team on Chios Island distributed a vegan lunch along with 4,200 fresh peaches at Souda and Dipethe camps. The fruit was organized and prepared for those in need by the Chios Regional Unit of the Northern Aegean Region (CRUNAR). In order to serve the lunch as scheduled, we made two trips: first unloading the peaches and then returning with the rest. Before the setup was complete, the refugees had already formed long lines, eagerly waiting for the much-needed fruits and veggies. Each person received two peaches, a cucumber, one tomato, a slice of bread, and a small cup of olives. Everyone gleamed with joy over the food provided. After over two hours, all our supplies were distributed.

    The next day, we served vegan, green lentil soup and went to the local Norwegian Refugee Council’s office for the weekly food coordination meeting with other volunteers. We discussed ways to better assist the refugees and maintain peace within the community. Also, we received updates on the government’s involvement.

    As Ramadan continues on its twenty-third day, may all observers of this holy time for Muslims find tranquility within.

    Serving More Fresh Vegetables and Bread as Souda and Dipethe Camps, Chios Island, Greece – June 30 to July 1, 2016

    In the early morning of June 30, our local supplier delivered 280 kilograms of tomatoes, 700 cucumbers, 100 kilograms of olives, and 190 fresh loaves of bread. Each loaf of bread was cut into eight slices. The refugees absolutely loved the veggies and bread. In Souda camp, the tomatoes were all given out, so we brought 20 more kilograms to the site. All teams involved worked hard for over two hours until the end of distribution.

    On July 1, in collaboration with other volunteers, our team cooked congee (veggie and rice soup) for the refugees in both camps. The Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), implemented a new and improved card system, which allowed for a more organized workflow and for improved communication. It will help those who may have missed their chances of receiving food previously. As the Ramadan month will come to an end next week, may all continue to cultivate their inner divine and peaceful nature with nutritious vegan meals.

    Providing Healthy, Vegan Meals During the Last Few Days of Ramadan, Chios Island, Greece – July 2 to 4, 2016

    During the last few days of Ramadan at Souda and Dipethe camps, our relief team on Chios Island served healthy, vegan meals, such as fresh salad and bread, congee (vegetable and rice soup) and a fusion of rice and fideo noodles (short, wheat noodles). Seeing the bright smiles of the refugees, we felt very happy to be able to help them.

    With other volunteers, we discussed the menu options for the next week. One of the volunteers from the United Kingdom made flat bread for sampling. Another option was to give the refugees a couple of large hot plates for communal use. We also considered providing other simple dishes and some more complex dishes. We will do whatever is the most practical with the simple facilities available to offer nutritious and delicious vegan food.

    While we were in Dipethe camp, a nice Syrian man invited one of our team members to a shaded tree and shared his story of living in the camp and the struggles he and his family endured. He hugged our team member and expressed gratitude for our efforts. May all afflicted with difficulties soon find peace. 

    Celebrating the End of Ramadan and Bidding a Fond Farewell to Two Team Members, Chios Island, Greece – July 5 to 6, 2016

    On July 5, the last day of Ramadan, our relief team on Chios Island distributed tomatoes, cucumbers, bread and olives in Souda and Dipethe camps.

    Our team bid farewell to our head chef from Oregon, USA, and our eldest Formosa team member. Both of them, over sixty years young, have coached and invigorated the rest of us with their vitality and spirit. The head chef was charismatic, humorous and especially popular among the children. The Formosa elder was like a mother, spending her days looking after the kitchen and volunteers and ensuring all were well fed. She also gave traditional acupressure massages to those who needed it. Prior to departure, we enjoyed a vegan version of a traditional Formosa dish prepared by “mama,” and listened to the advice and experiences of our team members who were leaving. We miss them already.

    On July 6, the beginning of the festivities in celebration of the end of Ramadan, we served homemade hummus with cucumbers, bread and dates as well as juice packs for the children. The hummus was very welcomed by the refugees. In Dipethe camp, it ran out quickly. In Souda camp, a woman expressed much enthusiasm upon trying the hummus and thanked us for the opportunity to enjoy food with a taste of home. We plan to serve more dishes in the future that will make the refugees feel at home.

    Serving New Dishes to Refugees on Chios Island, Greece –July 7 to 9, 2016

    On July 7, our relief team on Chios Island served a new dish made with potatoes, vegan cheese and vegan soy protein. The refugees gave us a lot of thanks for offering them new types of food to eat. After serving in Souda camp, we watched an entertaining program by a noble young man from Germany named Jakob. He played ukulele and sang “Yoko” by Pegasus Bridge. Even though most people did not know the lyrics, they clapped with the huge smiles.

    The next day, we served a traditional Middle Eastern dish called Mjadara, made with lentils, rice and onions. It is a new addition to the weekly menu. The refugees enjoyed it very much and gave us a thumbs up. We felt blessed to serve our friends a new dish and were encouraged to keep trying new recipes. Back at the kitchen, we shared the rest of the Mjadara, as well as watermelon and tea, with a group of two or three Afghan families who stopped by. They were staying at Vial camp, the official registration camp managed by the army. Sitting together under the large fig tree next to the kitchen and exchanging stories, we felt like a big family.

    On July 9, we served cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and bread to help keep the refugees cool in the midday heat. The children were even more energetic when they saw the popcorn we brought.  We did a survey among a number of refugees to find out their opinion of our new weekly menu. We were overjoyed to hear that most agreed that this was the best week of food they had in a while. We will continue researching a variety of nutritious vegan foods to add to the menu for the refugees to enjoy and feel nourished.

    Making More Humus for the Refugees and Enjoying Making Vegan Meals With Volunteers, Chios Island, Greece – July 10 to 11, 2016

    As hummus was well received by the refugees last time, our relief team on Chios Island made more on July 10. One of our more experienced volunteers, Kate, suggested and showed us how to make the hummus the first time around. This time, we adapted Kate’s recipe in order to establish a simple system for future hummus making. The process of making the chickpea dip became easier as we gained more experience using the equipment. The hummus turned out great, and we will use less garlic and lemon juice in the future as suggested by the refugees. We encouraged the refugees to keep communication open with us, so we can understand each other and create a better environment.

    On July 11, we returned to the previous schedule of serving dinner instead of lunch to the refugees. After a good rest, we went to the kitchen in the morning to prepare fried rice mixed in noodles with onions and corn. We exchanged jokes with the volunteers, listened to some music and enjoyed the peaceful view of the sea while working. We felt so honored and blessed to be working at such a lovely place. The food was well received in both Dipethe and Souda camps, where cucumbers, bread and popcorn for the children were also distributed. The recipients’ faces lit up when they took their first bites. We served food until sunset and gazed upon the sky lines as the last few people came to get their food.

    Serving Fruit, Vegetables and Hummus, and Beginning a New Project, Chios Island, Greece – July 12 to 14, 2016

    On the early morning of July 12, our local fresh produce supplier, Mr. Simos, brought  280 kilograms of tomatoes, 670 cucumbers and 1,320 peaches, and our local baker delivered 190 loaves of bread. We also had a couple of extra tomatoes contributed by a friendly supermarket.  Then, our relief team on Chios Island started preparing the vegetables, fruit and bread. The refugees at both camps absolutely loved the fresh produce we served, which provided them some relief from the heat as well as nutrition for their health.

    The next day, we made hummus for the third time; the process was much smoother.  We served the hummus along with olives, cucumbers and bread until sunset. Some of the refugees approached us and showed their appreciation for what we were doing. In Dipethe camp, one child came up to one of our relief members and gently placed a cookie in his pocket before waving and walking away with a smile.

    On July 14, we made a vegan rice and short noodle dish with sautéed onions, which is a favorite among the Syrian refugees. For every portion served, we added one tomato and a thick slice of bread. After distribution, we headed back to the kitchen to prepare for the next day’s meal. We peeled 11 large sacks of potatoes, chopped them and partially boiled them ready for cooking.

    We are happy to announce that our team will participate in a new project. After a meeting with Nick, the coordinator of a new school for refugee and migrant children, we agreed to serve dinner to 40 children who currently reside in Vial, a government managed camp where volunteers are not authorized to go. The children from Vial will be attending classes on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. We are eager to provide them with tasty, nutritious vegan meals. We look forward to a harmonious world where all children have easy access to healthy, vegan nourishment.

    Providing More Meals at Souda and Dipethe Camps, and for Newly Arrived Refugees, Chios Island, Greece – July 15 to 16, 2016

    On July 15, our relief team on Chios Island served a delicious vegan potato dish flavored with onions, garlic and a variety of herbs, along with some bread and peaches, for dinner at both Souda and Dipethe camps. In addition, we distributed 10 bags of mixed veggies donated by a local supermarket to various families at the camps. We also set aside enough portions of food for the 39 new refugees who arrived by boat from Turkey this morning.

    In preparation for the meal, we stayed up until 2am the previous night peeling, chopping and boiling potatoes, and asked volunteers from the Norwegian NGO A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet) to help us prepare four large bags of onions. A Drop in the Ocean volunteers were very enthusiastic workers who also introduced us to some Norwegian music, which helped speed up the production rate. 

    On July 16, some of our team members spent the day washing cucumbers and tomatoes, while others prepared hummus for the following day. For dinner, we brought bread and a colorful array of fresh produce to the refugees. In Souda camp, we were asked to set aside 60 portions of food for the newly arrived refugees staying at the Vial official registration camp, where people normally eat reheated frozen meals. The refugees happily picked up the fresh produce with the assistance from the A Drop in the Ocean volunteers. We were glad to help provide the refugees with nutritious food, and hope they will become healthier and stronger.  

    Preparing Food Parcels for Departing Refugees and Vegan Meals for Refugees with Special Needs, Chios Island, Greece – July 17 to 18, 2016

    On July 17, with the help from volunteers from the Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), our relief team on Chios Island prepared 100 dry food parcels containing dates, cans of beans, water, juice packs, peanuts and raisins for the refugees who will be leaving the island. Our dinner was well received at both Souda and Dipethe camps. Everyone loved the hummus, olives and bread as well as the juice packs we specially purchased from the supermarket.

    Our team was asked by the Norwegian Refugee Council to prepare dinner on a daily basis for 54 adults with special needs, including pregnant women, women who recently gave birth and people living with a disability, who are living in a hotel near one of the camps. We were informed that more than 85 people have moved to Souda camp from Vial, the registration camp, so we will be providing vegan food for more than 1,400 people as of tomorrow. We endeavor to continue serving all the refugees quality and nourishing vegan food that they enjoy.

    On July 18, in addition to making vegan rice and fideo (short noodles) which will be served with bread and cucumbers for dinner, we prepared vegan sandwiches for the 40 children from Vial camp together with a longtime volunteer, Jakob. Even though the children did not go to school in the town of Chios as planned, the sandwiches were timely additions to the refugees in both camps, as there was a sudden increase in the number of people staying there.

    In Souda camp, some of the refugees sang a beautiful song in Arabic to us while getting their food. We exchanged smiles and thanks as they went on to enjoy their meal.  As we started to clean up, several children came to play with some of our members. A little girl made us two plastic bracelets as a token of friendship. We feel very grateful to serve our friends in need.

    Vegan Meals and Music for Refugees on Chios Island, Greece – July 19 to 20, 2016

    On July 19, our relief team on Chios Island prepared cucumbers, tomatoes, bread, peaches and nectarines for the refugees. Jakob, a long-time volunteer, came by the kitchen to help us. Seeing we had everything ready, he played his ukulele and sang his soulful compositions. The refugees were especially excited to receive the fresh produce at the end of a hot day. We also gave vegetables donated by the local supermarket to pregnant women in Dipethe camp. In Souda camp, together with volunteers from the Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), we played with the children, sharing much delight. We also had the opportunity to converse with the refugees, listening to their concerns and dreams, and receiving their feedback on the food. 

    On July 20, apart from preparing dinner for the refugees, we attended the weekly food coordination meeting with other NGOs. We requested more information regarding the refugees who come to receive food so that we can better serve them. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet) will continue to work on and improve the food card system. Our team will also prepare 100 vegan dry food parcels for new arrivals and families moving elsewhere. In addition, we will work with the United States NGO, Samaritan’s Purse, to keep track of the calories of each meal prepared, to ensure that all the refugees are sufficiently nourished. Afterwards, Anna from Lebanon visited our kitchen and offered new food ideas to include a variety of Middle Eastern flavors. She shared her recipe for falafels and we also spoke about a possible eggplant dish.

    For dinner, we prepared hummus with cucumbers, bread, and olives. Jakob came to Souda camp and played music, which cheered everyone up. In Dipethe camp, we gave extra bread to one of our Kurdish friends who shares his food with his fellow refugees in need. At both locations, we were able to give vegan food to those coming from Vial camp, much to their appreciation. Following the successful distributions, we discussed ways to add more variety to our current menu so that the refugees can experience the joy and diversity of vegan cuisine.

     

    Joining the Spontaneous Music, Dance and Laughter in Souda Camp, Chios Island, Greece – July 21 to 22, 2016

    On July 21, during the Focus Group Discussion organized by the United States NGO, Samaritan’s Purse, in the morning, our relief team members on Chios Island were pleased to hear that overall, people were quite happy with the vegan meals we have been offering. They especially enjoyed the hummus, saying it had just the right flavor and they would like to have it more than once a week. Some refugees also gave us cooking tips and recipes that everyone would enjoy. They recommended us to add falafel to our menu, which is exactly what we planned for tomorrow. We hoped to give everyone a pleasant surprise.

    During the serving of rice and fideo (short noodles) with bread and tomatoes at Souda camp on July 21, music started playing on the other side of distribution. At first, the relief team members thought the music was just individuals playing for their own entertainment; however, a loud crowd was gathered, and soon, the entire camp was laughing, clapping, and dancing. As soon as we cleaned up our distribution area, the refugees took our members’ hands to join in the merriment. It was truly an uplifting and inspiring occasion, seeing all the people come together in joy and celebration.

    After about an hour of dancing, we went back to the kitchen to prepare the materials needed for making falafel tomorrow. We were able to assess the necessary equipment that would make the process as efficient as possible. Although we stayed up until 4am, we felt energetic and happy after the fun and special evening in the camp.

    The next morning, we started to shape and deep fry the falafels. Many volunteers stopped by trying to help, but there was not enough space in the kitchen, so they sang songs for us. At dinner distribution in Dipethe and Souda camps, people were excited to see falafel, as many of them have not had it in five months. They were very grateful that we are making such an effort for them, adding menu items to please their taste buds. After everyone got their meals, the day ended in Souda camp with another jubilant evening of music, dance, and laughter.

    Sharing Vegan Food and Learning More About Each Other’s Culture, Chios Island, Greece – July 23 to 24, 2016

    On July 23, our relief team on Chios Island prepared cucumbers, tomatoes, bread, and peaches for the refugees in the morning, and started to make hummus for the next day. In the afternoon, after receiving confirmation that children from Vial camp would come to Chios town for school, we proceeded to make 48 vegan sandwiches, packaged with cucumbers and juice boxes, and arranged a volunteer to deliver the food to the children.

    At dinnertime, the refugees were overjoyed to see the fresh produce as the summer heat continues. The distribution went a lot faster; the children played with the volunteers and more refugees come to joke around and talk with us. Some of the camp residents have shared “Thank you” in different languages as they pick up their meals. After the distribution, one of the teenagers invited our team members to his tent for a friendly chat. Despite his humble living conditions, he kindly served us tea with sugar and offered us food as we exchanged the stories about our lives. Upon knowing he was new to the camp, we introduced him to another young man who has been here longer. We feel blessed to meet such inspiring friends, and pray that they may soon live in comfort and prosperity in a peaceful world.

    On July 24, in addition to preparing dinner, we packed 50 portions of a vegan rice and tomato dish for the school children, and 100 vegan dry food packages for people moving out of the camps. We also welcomed six enthusiastic volunteers from Italy who will join us for two weeks. Sadly, it was the last day for one of our team members here, who had dedicated her time every day cooking for the team. We will miss her loving food and caring presence.

    We served hummus with olives and bread to the refugees for dinner. Everyone was happy to receive extra-large portions. With the additional volunteers, everything went so smoothly and swiftly. Our team was able to spend more time to connect with the people at Souda camp. It was so nice to see everyone having a good time. We are happy to gain more mutual understanding with the people here, and to continue to share our beautiful cultures with one another.

    Continuing to Serve Vegan Meals for Souda and Dipethe Camps, and Making New Friends, Chios Island, Greece – July 25 to 27, 2016

    On July 25, our relief team on Chios Island came to the kitchen early in the morning to fry the fideo (short noodles) and cook the rice. We added peas and carrots and reduced the amount onions according to suggestions from the refugees. We also prepared 50 vegan sandwiches for the school children traveling from Vial camp. Unfortunately, the classes were canceled due to a wildfire in the southern part of the island, so we gave the sandwiches to the refugees in Souda camp instead. While we were distributing food, airplanes could be seen retrieving water from the ocean to contain the fire. We pray for the safety of all the firefighters, and for the swift recovery of all the affected people.

    A local Greek man donated a box of freshly made bread. We distributed it, along with the sandwiches, for the mothers in Dipethe camp to share with their loved ones. After receiving food, many people approached us to chat and some complimented the food. The atmosphere at both camps felt a lot more peaceful, and we hope that the situation of all the refugees will continue to improve.

    On July 26, we were joined by two volunteers from Spain who said they found us on the Internet, and were very excited because one of them is vegetarian and the other is vegan! Together, we washed tomatoes and cucumbers and readied the bread and peaches to serve in the evening. Distribution went smoothly at both camps, and people were able to get extra vegetables and fruits. A volunteer who is a vegan expressed his wish to help at our kitchen. Some people from Vial camp wanted to learn more about Supreme Master Ching Hai and our Association, and gratefully received Her literature in Arabic.

    As it was the last day for one of our youngest team members, a teenager living in Souda camp invited him to his tent for a final get-together. When it was time to go, the good friends exchanged hugs and well-wishes. However, it was not a sad “goodbye,” but a hope-filled “see you later!” Indeed, we look forward to meeting our friends again in their new homes in the near future.

    On July 27, our morning started off with the weekly meeting with the groups working to feed the refugees. This time, Frontex, the border patrol officers, and the international NGO, Chios Eastern Shore Response Team (CESRT), were also in attendance to discuss food concerns over the new arrivals. To help ensure that those staying in Vial camp have adequate nutrients, we will send fruit twice a week to support the work of the Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet) there.

    At dinner distribution, the people at both camps were very excited to see it was hummus day. Many complimented the food. The Souda camp was especially bustling with activity, with many people from Vial camp also there to get food. We stayed well past sunset. As the days are getting shorter, we will need to start using headlamps again.

    With everyone happily fed, we had the chance to interact more with the refugees. A number of people shared their stories of getting to Souda. Many have been waiting at the camps for months, but despite their hardships, they continue to smile and have hope. We shared with each other pictures of our loved ones and our home countries and laughed together. It fills our hearts with warmth and thankfulness to be able to meet so many beautiful people and make new friends. May they all soon settle in peaceful, stable homes as the world joins hands in harmony. 

    Grateful for Hardworking Volunteers, and Preparing a New Vegan Dish, Chios Island, Greece – July 28 to 29, 2016

    For dinner distribution on July 28, our relief team on Chios Island tried some new cooking methods that made the rice fluffier. We then added peas, carrots, corn, and a little bit of onions to make a nutritious, colorful and flavorful rice and fideo (short noodles) dish. In the meantime, four volunteers from the Norwegian NGO, A Drop in the Ocean (Dråpen i havet), and two Spanish friends began the preparation for tomorrow’s new vegan potato dish. It was strenuous work, but they all stayed to assist us for more than five hours! As a couple of our team members stayed behind to boil the potatoes, Sylvia from Majorca joined the rest of us for distribution. What a blessing to have such diligent, hardworking people alongside us!

    During the distribution in Dipethe camp, the atmosphere remained calm and peaceful as people graciously received their meals. In Souda camp, we were lucky to have made enough food for everyone including those from Vial. Two kindhearted women showed up to donate food packs and hygienic supplies, much to the families’ delight. Distribution came to a close as the sun went down, and everyone gathered around to listen to music, to dance, and to enjoy the presence of their loved ones. It was a blissful night, a bliss that we hope all families may continue to enjoy as they proceed on their journeys.

    On June 29, some of our team members arrived at the kitchen in the morning full of excitement to try a new menu, featuring fried potatoes with caramelized onions. Others helped pack peanuts and raisins to be given to the refugees at a later date. To everyone’s delight, the potato dish, which was served with cucumbers and bread, was a winner at both the camps! In Souda camp, we also gave out vegetables that a local supermarket donated to families with children. After everyone received the food, we talked with the refugees, and joined in soccer and volleyball games with them. We were grateful to be able to share in their moments of joy as well as sorrow, and pray that their hearts may soon find solace and happiness as humanity unites in harmony and understanding.

    Serving More Fresh Produce, and Bidding Farewell to Some Refugee Friends, Chios Island, Greece – July 30 to 31, 2016

    July 30 was fresh produce day, so in the kitchen, a group of our relief team in Chios Island washed the cucumbers, tomatoes, and peaches to serve to the refugees that night, while the other group began hummus preparations for the next day. We also packed 50 vegan lunches for the students coming from Vial camp. Moreover, we got a new refrigerator van to help transport all the food and keep it fresh.

    The refugees love cucumbers and tomatoes, and this time was no exception. Dinner distributions that evening were full of smiles as people received their vegetables, fruits, and bread. In addition, one of our friends said that she had just received the exciting news that she would be moving on to Athens! As a parting gift, she cooked a tomato dish and gifted it to one of our team members with whom she has grown especially close. Moreover, two families invited some of our team members to visit their temporary homes at the camps. The hosts were incredibly welcoming. Generations of family members and neighbors all joined in to chat, exchange stories and concerns, and get to know each other. It was a cherished experience— a chance to connect and embrace our shared vision of amity and peace for all.

    The next day, due technical issues in the kitchen, we had to make last minute changes to the hummus process. Thanks to Heaven’s grace, the food was ready before dinnertime. In the meantime, a local engineer was working with us to improve the ventilation in the kitchen. We also washed the tomatoes, packed the olives into smaller containers and prepared the bread. Vegan sandwiches and snacks for school children in town were prepared as well. When the people from the school came to pick up the meals, they told us that the children love the food! We will continue to pack nutritious and delicious vegan food so that the children may be strong and healthy as they learn.

    The distribution in Dipethe camp went smoothly, with beautiful Arabic music playing in the background as the children jumped rope with the volunteers. In Souda camp, our team members also got the chance to play with the young ones, as well as learn some Arabic dance moves and ball games. Moreover, several refugees came to celebrate the news that they will soon move on to Athens. We bid farewell with many hugs, kisses, and “I love you”s. We were joyful to see our friends continue on their journeys, and pray that they may venture forth in safety and blessings in a compassionate, peaceful world.  

     Expenditures By The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association For Refugee Relief Work In Chios, Greece

    Description Amount (EUR) Receipt
    Food (lemons, lentils, vegan chocolates, nuts, fruits and vegetables) for the refugees, hairbands and balloons for children, and other expenses (bags and delivery fee, etc.) 3,210.87 A
    Food (vegetables, toast, orange juice, jam, chocolates and biscuits) and shoes for the refugees, vegetable slicer for The People’s Street Kitchen and other expenses for the relief team (masks and gloves for cooking team, bags, communication, transportation and house rental etc.) 2,116.09 B
    Food, clothing and shoes for the refugees, cleaning supplies, vehicle and apartment rental, and transportation expenses for the relief team 3,983.86 C
    Food (rice, tahini and juice packs for children), kitchen supplies, suitcases, gas burners and ferry tickets for the refugees, and relief team expenses (food, apartment rental, medicine, welding machine, communication and transportation, etc.) 9,483.70 D
    Total EUR 18,794.49
    (US$20,941.70)

     

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