Seasons Greetings from Lesvos

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, Starfish Foundation would like to thank each one of you for helping us to continue our work here in Lesvos. Starfish is YOU really, without YOU we simply can’t carry on. We had planned to send you our usual newsletter with the latest news about our activities during the past two months. But an incident that happened in the Moria camp changed our mind. We hope this story will touch you as it touched us.

On Thursday December 7, several of us went to the Moria camp to help deliver 14 adult wheelchairs, 14 pushchairs (baby strollers), 10 sterilizers for baby bottles, 10 kettles and several boxes of nappies (diapers). Hammer Forum organization, which is based in Germany, responded to the request on our website www.needshub.org. Nikolaos Kolovos drove all the way from Germany to bring the needed items to Lesvos camps and shelters.

Starfish Foundation obtained permission to enter the camp and helped to unload the van. Our office manager Dina writes about what happened next.

“I can’t describe in words the scene at the Moria camp when we were unloading the van with the goods. You would have had to be there to understand how enormous the need for pushchairs is.

When the parents saw the pushchairs, many of them started coming towards me, begging me to give them one. I was trying to explain that I am not allowed to distribute them and that the officials of the Moria camp must do so. One pregnant woman approached me, pointing to her prominent belly, implying that she soon would need one. A man was pulling my cardigan so I would pay attention to him. He was holding the registration form where it was written clearly that he has two young children. Another young mother was pointing to her baby, saying to me in broken English, ‘my baby, please, my baby.’ I could see the desperation in their eyes and I started to feel hopeless and uncomfortable.

The scene that broke my heart was when the parents of a 2 year-old girl decided to place their daughter inside the pushchair they desperately wanted. The little girl started laughing and was thrilled to be inside it.

The woman in charge had no choice but to be strict. She said to the parents in Greek, ‘please get your little girl out of the pushchair,’ then in English, ‘please get your baby out of the buggy; if you won’t I will have to call the police guard.’ By then the little girl started crying louder and louder, the mother was not making any attempt to remove the girl from the pushchair, the father was begging to keep the buggy, and the little girl started holding on tight to the buggy. She wouldn’t let go.

The woman in charge was clearly upset. I could tell she was having a hard time doing what she had been told to do. The police guard came, raised his voice, and gestured. The disappointed mother pulled the little girl, who by this time was screaming at the top of her lungs, out of the pushchair.

The police officer picked up the pushchair and took it to section A, where other families are staying. I watched the reaction of the parents and the little girl. Their body language said it all: with shoulders shrugged and upset faces they walked away. On my way out I saw the little girl again. She had calmed down.

We left Moria with heavy hearts. I kept was thinking: what on earth is going on in this world? Many of us cannot imagine what it would be like not to have a pushchair for our babies: it is one of the first things that new parents have on their list. Seeing these desperate pleas for a pushchair was very disturbing”.

Can you please help us to provide pushchairs for the babies and children of Moria camp? That day we delivered 14, but the director of Moria camp has informed us that more than 300 are needed. You can contact us via www.needshub.org to provide a donation in kind, or you can send a cash donation to our bank.

Our research shows that the approximate price for a pushchair that can be used for newborns and young children, brought from a local supplier and therefore contributing to the local economy, is € 55 – 65.

Greek bank holders: Account no: 407/001155-00; Account holder: AΣΤΕΡΙΑΣ (or ASTERIAS); Bank: National Bank of Greece Location: Mythimna 81108 Lesvos.

International bank transfers: IBAN: GR4001104070000040700115500; BIC: ETHNGRAA: Account holder: AΣΤΕΡΙΑΣ (or ASTERIAS); Bank: National Bank of Greece; Location: Mythimna 81108, Lesvos

PayPal: Starfish Foundation

Your generous contribution will be much appreciated by the little girls and boys in the Moria camp and their parents. It truly is better to give than to receive when the need is so great.