We think we can all agree that 2020 has not been an easy year to navigate through; the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic has created a situation of uncertainty for us all. However, just as the world continues to adapt to the ever-changing regulations, restrictions, and safety measures prevalent with COVID-19, so too does the Starfish Foundation.
Over the last few months we have been busy working on several important projects across the island that we wanted to update you on — projects which we hope have brought some safety and comfort to vulnerable people in uncertain times. These initiatives include #Safehands (handwashing stations set up outside Moria camp to help curb the spread of COVID-19), the distribution of Baby Boxes to parents of new-borns (including essentials, such as baby wipes, diapers, and cream), and the transportation of unaccompanied minors to doctors’ appointments using the Starfish van. One of the happy, but very sleepy (!) recipients of our Baby Boxes.
However, as many of you reading this will know, in early September, a fire tore through Moria Camp which left nearly 13,000 people without shelter. In the aftermath of this devastating incident, we rallied into action– purchasing and distributing water to those who had fled the fire and were living by the side of the road. Before the installation of the second camp, RIC Lesvos, and in collaboration with several other organisations on the island, we worked to distribute food supplied by the Greek Army. Starfish volunteers, as well as #SafeHands volunteers from the camp, helped with crowd control and worked to make what was a chaotic, and often stressful situation for those who had fled the fire, more efficient for everyone. We supplied the #SafeHands volunteers with solar mobile chargers so that they could keep us informed about food distribution and crowd management, and we used this information to provide the necessary care to those individuals who had been left homeless by the fire.
The fire at Moria camp, which left 13,000 people without shelter (Image: Time.com)
A replacement camp has now been built, and our team at Starfish are working to meet the pressing needs of those living in the new camp. One of the gravest concerns in the camp is the wellbeing of pregnant women, and mothers of new-borns, and so, we have restarted the distribution of our Baby Boxes. We have handed out 75 boxes in the new camp so far, providing essential materials for mothers and babies. Additionally, as the threat of COVID-19 prevails, we have re-started our #SafeHands initiative at the new camp. At each hand washing station, a trained volunteer is present to discuss the importance of hand washing and mask wearing and answer any questions that might arise. The stations allow anyone the chance to wash their hands and receive a clean mask, providing protection against the Coronavirus in the crowded camp. As we look ahead to the future, we plan to restart several other projects we were previously running in Moria camp, including women’s self-defence and empowerment workshops, yoga classes, and Greek and English lessons.
The Starfish team setting up the first #SafeHands station in the new camp
Lastly, an update from our OpenSpace building! We can’t wait to open the doors and welcome you all into our new, co-working space once renovations are complete. As with the old building, OpenSpace will act as an inclusive hub where classes (such as self-defence and the Bags4Everyone initiative) will be held. In addition to serving as a coworking space for those who need high-speed Wi-Fi and office amenities, it will be a collection point for our online library, and a fun, productive space for our sewing workshops. We have designed OpenSpace to be a warm, welcoming space for everyone in the heart of Mytilene, and we hope to see you there soon.
Renovations continue on our new OpenSpace building
As we continue to adapt in these strange times, we wanted to send our heartfelt thanks to you all. It hasn’t been an easy time for anyone, yet you continue to donate, send us kind words, and support our work. In the last few months, we have received monetary donations, as well as clothes, items for new born babies, personal protective equipment, and essential items to distribute within the camp – and it is this kindness that keeps our vision alive. At the core of the Starfish Foundation is the need to help vulnerable people in whatever way we can- a sentiment which will never fade, and one that has only been made more important in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak and the fire at Moria camp.
If you would like to donate, you can do so via the button here:
Some of our fantastic #SafeHands volunteers, before the fire at Moria
The Starfish Team