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CHRISTMAS IN MORIA CAMP ON LESVOS

 

On the 29th of December there was a celebration in Moria for the festive season. The celebration took place in the protected inner area and Starfish was invited to attend and help with the festivities.

There are three sections in the protected area.

Section A – Families and a few unaccompanied minors (over 270)

Section B – Unaccompanied minors (mainly in B but some in A, 330 children)

Section C – Single women (over 260)

There is the outer area in Moira with in the camp fence and then there is the Olive grove which is outside the camp

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We were a team of five. Theo, Lindsey, Kimon, Rhea and me.

3 of the Starfish team started helping in section A by wrapping up presents and blowing up balloons.

 

Theo and I decided to start the process of distributing the 31 baby strollers that we had purchased with the donation of Angalia from Kalloni (We did not buy the cheapest as these break easily but brought the good sturdy ones at a cost of 55 euro each).

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Theo stood by the van we arrived in, whilst I went into section A with Despina (who is in charge of this area).  We visited all the rooms and the tents situated in the centre of the compound.  They try to accommodate so many people that each room was filled to the brim with mothers with babies, fathers and so many children. We noticed that they have put up blankets that rope off little sections for some sort of make shift privacy. We called out before opening each one up so that they would feel that we were not invading their space.  We wanted to see if they had babies. It was shocking to see that most of the people are sleeping on the floor. They also have no protection against things being stolen if they leave their area.

The tents are sectioned into four tiny areas with two openings on one side and two on the other side.   Again, no privacy or protection.

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So now the difficult task of choosing which families to give the strollers to. We of course chose the families with the biggest need, which we felt were the ones with the smallest babies and the single parent families. Whilst we were going through the camp, we saw a father with the cutest little girl whose mother had been killed. She started following us and wanted to be picked up and cuddled.

We gave one push chair per family even if they had more children. We made a few families smile.

With some pushchairs left over we then moved to section C and the single women. There were two women who had recently given birth. They all have bunk beds and at first glance there seemed to be eight or more in one room. The two mothers had their new-born babies lying next to them on the bunk bed. They were very happy to receive the strollers as these are ones that can be laid flat for new-born.

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Now was to find some babies in the outer area of Moria to give the last of our strollers. These are people who should be in the protected area but are not because there just is no room.

We went from tent to tent and found so many babies but by now everyone in the camp had found out that we were giving out strollers and people started to come and crowd at the gate behind the van. The crowd grew larger and larger and with only 5 strollers left it was so hard to choose who needed them most so I gave them to whomever was closest to the front. I tried to explain that I will bring more in the New Year but with the language barrier, I don’t think anyone understood. For hours after that, women and families would come and find me with their babies in their arms and ask me for a stroller.  I kept apologising and trying to explain that they had finished. One very pregnant women with a three year old who looked like she would cry returned three times to ask for a stroller. It was heart breaking to watch and even more heart breaking to have to tell these people that we didn’t have any more strollers.

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In the meantime the rest of the Starfish team continued to help out in Section A.

Lovely big chocolates where given out to all sections (Thank you EO metterdaad and Angalia for donating the money to Starfish). Over 800 balloons brought laughter and games to the children of Moria, but also to the adults. Rhea my teenager had a great time playing with some of the unaccompanied minors with the balloons. Even though these children have been through more than anyone can

IMG_1149imagine, they still find it in themselves to keep smiling and sometimes even laughing. They are still kids who just simply want to play! With music blasting and Father Christmas going into each section, it seemed as if their troubles had gone, if only for a few minutes. We loved the way so many people even started to dance.

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When we finished, there was a box of chocolates left so Theo and I decided to take them into the outer section. We were surrounded within seconds and I was afraid for Theo as

IMG_1157people were pushing and grabbing out of desperation. We understand that this is how they have learnt to survive and sad to see that it was only for a chocolate.

 

After we left, we all felt a happy glow but were exhausted. Some of us even fell asleep in the car on the way home to our reality. Getting out of my warm bed this morning after it rained all night, it suddenly hit home that the people we visited the day before are still stuck in that overcrowded, wet, and cold camp with no prospects of their nightmare ending any time soon and no warm bed to climb out of.

 

 

 

 

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Greek Traditions For New Years On Lesvos

Father Christmas in Greece, known as Agios Vassilis (Saint Basil/ Basillis/ Bill), comes with  the arrival of the New Year, bearing gifts.

It is tradition for the first visitor who comes to your home after the clock chimes 12.00  to knock on your door and when you open the door to him he will have a big stone with him, a jug of water and a pomegranate. He places the stone on the floor, pours the water over it and then breaks the pomegranate. This ritual is one to bring good luck to your home for the year ahead. Whilst he is performing the ritual he is also chanting words similar to these: “As heavy as this stone is, may your pockets be from abundance of money….As this water pours, may the happiness and laughter pour into your home….. As the same way the pomegranate seeds spread across your floor may the joy and heath spread across your home.

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wishes for 2015

 

 

LESVOS

 ONCE DISCOVERED IS NEVER FORGOTTEN

 

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Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Greetings

Melinda, Theo and Family.

www.lesvosaccommodation.com

https://molyvosevents.wordpress.com

http://twitter.com/molyvoslife

 

 

A Black-winged Stilt ( Himantopus himantopus)

Lesvos is known as one of the best locations in Europe to see migrating birds

Christmas Bazaar

After a lot of work, we are pleased to announce that the Christmas Bazaar that took place on the 6th of December at the school ( there was a war as there were  a lot of people that did not want it at the school) took a whooping  7000 euros intake aprox. As we had other volunteer groups join us, this gross intake was not all ours.
For the school council we collected an amazing profit of 3500 euros
There were over 100 volunteers that helped on the night and we had 85 children sing Christmas carols in 8 languages for us.
Many thanks to every one.

Melinda