By Athens Relief Team (Originally in English)
As many European borders are closed, over 60,000 refugees, according to The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates, are waiting in Greece to have their cases processed. The Greek people’s outstanding attitude to the refugees won them the nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize and set an example for the rest of the world to follow for treating those in danger and misery with devotion and humanity in spite of their own difficulties. Even though the financial crisis has deeply affected everyone here, the Greek people remained strong spirited and have a philosophy of hospitality to all nationalities. They have a word for it in Greek, “Philoxenia” which means: “love of strangers.” It is a deep tradition, and though resources are very stretched by the financial situation and the huge influx of refugees, most people continue to be kind and welcoming to all people arriving in Greece.
Our Association members have been helping the refugees with provisions of basic necessities in many camps in Greece from November 2015 to January 2017. Many refugees, after knowing Supreme Master Ching Hai’s teachings and having enjoyed the vegan food we served to them in the camps, became vegan. All expressed their deep gratitude to Master for Her unconditional and enormous help. (Please refer to relief.godsdirectcontact.org for our refugee relief work in Greece.)
In January 2017, we provided financial assistance to a Greek friend who was very ill with pneumonia and could not afford the utility bill. We also visited Northern Greece to give gifts and funds to a Syrian refugee family who just welcomed their fourth child, and donated EUR 100 to another refugee friend in Serbia who had a baby in the hospital and needed funds for medical treatment and medicine.
Since September 2016, our team have been focusing on spreading the vegan message through flyer distribution, sharing Master’s books and participating in veg events such as the Vegan Life Festival. We are grateful to our United Kingdom Association members who contributed Master’s books The Birds in My Life, The Dogs in My Life and the Arabic version of From Crisis to Peace – The Organic Vegan Way is the Answer. We have gifted copies of Master’s books to libraries, schools, refugee camps or centers, orphanages and other individuals on Lesbos Island and in Athens.
At the four refugee centers we visited in December 2016, Notara 26, Khora Community Centre, 5th School and City Plaza, the situation seemed to be calm and the children were laughing and playing happily. People tried to live their lives as positively as they could. We were amazed by the number of volunteers, mainly young people, who came from all over the world to give a helping hand. We were particularly impressed by the Khora Community Centre, where a dental clinic was newly opened, various classes were offered, a storage room with all the donated clothes and other necessities was set up, and a kitchen with table seating was in place to feed 300 people. It was beautiful to be able to witness a growing community center such as this, organized by people who believe in the same cause even if they have different religious beliefs and are from different cultures. They are truly saints in their own right and we are very thankful for their love and support.
Our heartfelt gratitude to all the caring people and organizations living the spirit of Philoxenia, and providing much-needed assistance to the refugees in Greece. May Heaven bless all refugees with much love and comfort on their journeys to restart their lives in safety and peace.
Expenditures by The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association for Refugee Relief Work and Other Activities in Greece, September 2016 – January 2017
|Cash contributions to refugee families and the people in need in Greece||7,752||A|
|Supplies for vegan events and expenses for printing flyers and brochures||
|Relief team expenses (travel, utilities and communications)||532|
Giving Master’s Books to Refugee Centers, Hospitals, Schools, Libraries, and Orphanages
Sharing Flyers at Athens Store
Gifts for New Baby of Refugee Family