Now that I am officially back in New Orleans I wanted to say another really big thank you to everyone who donated and supported me going back to Eidomeni. I am also SO thankful to the Refugee Solidarity Movement Thessaloniki, my Eidomeni BFFs, Oikopolis, and of course my personal support friends/family in Thessaloniki.
As I posted while I was in Greece a lot has changed in the camp. The future for the 10,000+ people in Eidomeni is uncertain as well as for the 50,000+ in all of Greece. The only constant has been the incompetence of political planning and organization. I guess all we can know for certain is that the system will continue to disappoint.
On a positive note, I amazingly feel very satisfied with my time there. With the help of my previous volunteer friends I met in November and new more incredible like-minded people I met only this month, all together we were able to provide relief all around. From over 1200 reusable cups, to hundreds of sticker books, balloons, markers, clothes, and bus tickets, with other volunteers I was able to directly be of service. Some of us would even say the obvious, “Just imagine if every one person, helped every one person here…” and I did see that happen a lot this time and it was a beautiful thing…but at the same time, disheartening because there are just so many desperate people.
When I arrived the RSMT (Refugee Solidarity Movement Thessaloniki) was beginning to discuss new types of services to provide. The tea tent idea had spread and plenty of independent volunteers were taking the reigns for this duty. Luckily, I was able to distribute tea with the group 3 times before it was decided to take a break and start brainstorming.
Of course the idea is to provide more possibilities for independence. Whether in crafts, sewing, teaching, dance, or music, RSMT is prioritizing to create productive activities for the refugees. This is what is in the works for the next couple of weeks. I am sad to be missing it however, it has never been more clear to me that MY priority is to be a part of the plan eventually.
Therefore, I am in the works of legitimatizing a long term stay in Thessaloniki. Even though by the time I am able to return, Eidomeni will probably be completely evacuated and refugees will be sent to the various camps within Greece. During my time there, camps were popping up every where. Especially in various areas around Thessaloniki. This is where the RSMT are focusing for these efforts because the smaller camps (3000 people) are more stable…most of the time. As I continue to be in contact with this group, I’ll be updating on the process.
I could not have asked for a more perfect layout of my stay in Thessaloniki. As my first night I arrived happened to be Craig’s (Organizer for RSMT) birthday party, where I reunited with and was introduced to all the amazing people who participate in this group.
Then of course my last night (which I actually postponed…hey, I needed those two extra days in Thessaloniki!) was the 3 year anniversary for Oikopolis (the non-profit that basically is an umbrella for many groups working out of Thessaloniki.) Everyone was there. It was such an incredible event and really nailed in the feeling of where I belong.