As stated in the “Donations” section of the blog, I am partnering with Lesvos Solidarity-Pikpa, an open refugee camp for vulnerable refugees. This wonderful camp is run solely by volunteers and is truly such a magnificent organization. Over the summer, I had the chance to visit Pikpa. From our first phone call, the camp was instantly welcoming. As you arrive at the entrance of the camp, you see life jackets that line the fence to the right. The life jackets have the word “safe passage” written on them. Maybe some of you think this sounds cheesy, but it really felt like such an emotional phrase. For people who have suffered through so much, have traveled so far, to see the words “safe passage” must be an emotional relief.
Pikpa is like a home. It honestly reminded me of a summer camp. The volunteers and staff are encouraging and loving of all the refugees. Refugees have the opportunity to learn both Greek and English, yoga, art activities, trips to the museum, etc. Refugees even have the opportunity to take swimming lessons in order to help them overcome their fear of the sea.
Honestly, Pikpa is a temporary home for those without a home. Each refugee family has their own cabin/tent where they have beds, a desk, and sometimes a refrigerator (especially for those whose medicine needs to be refrigerated, like insulin). They have the opportunity to cook in their own homes for their families if they want. For some refugees who don’t want or don’t have the time to cook, a chef will prepare meals for them. The meals also happen to be really good! When I was there, I had a lunch of lentils, rice, and pita. The food is prepared with the refugees’ home land in mind. I know this means a lot to the refugees to be able to eat food that reminds them of home.
Pikpa is a camp for vulnerable refugees. They host refugees that are disabled, sick, pregnant or families of those shipwrecked. Pikpa has medical equipment, medicine, nurses and a doctor who can offer immediate help to refugees. If their medical needs require them to have more intensive care, Pikpa arranges for medical care in Athens. Not only do they offer physical care, but they offer mental and psychological support. I cannot imagine the horrors the refugees have suffered through or have seen. But Pikpa offers support to those who have suffered or seen intense violence and loss. It is something that people often overlook. Physical needs tend to be taken care of first, whereas, mental needs also need to be met.
As you read this, please think about the refugees at this camp. I have met some, and they are wonderful. To see a mother bring her entire family to a new country, including her autistic son, without a clear-cut idea of the future, both breaks my heart and motivates me. It breaks my heart because these refugees are so incredibly wonderful, and to know that they might not receive asylum crushes me. I don’t want them to go back. I want them to live the life that they were intended to live, a life full of happiness and joy and opportunity. It is so cheesy, but everyone deserves that. So please, please, I implore you: visit http://www.lesvossolidarity.org/index.php/en/ and donate to this wonderful camp.