Autumn Update from Starfish
It is that time of the month again - here is a summary of some of our activities direct from Lesvos.
It has been a period of change once again for Starfish and the people we support. Autumn has well and truly arrived in Greece posing some challenges to our projects and for refugee wellbeing, whilst resident numbers in RIC Lesvos continue to fall due to an increase in the number of asylum applications being processed fast and passports issued. Legal residents are moving to the mainland where they hope to find a better life and work.
Thankfully, since the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in June this year we have been able to resume most of our previous activities. It has been especially nice to see OpenSpace busy as a hive of activity from morning to evening again.
Our 6th Birthday
October was a special month at Starfish as it marks 6 years since we officially became a registered charity. Our journey started just as a group of friends that began in Molyvos in the north of Lesvos before moving to Mytilene, the Island’s capital.
Starfish started from the very first days with the arrivals of refugees on Lesvos and continued in a collaborative humanitarian effort on the Island for the ensuing years. We have responded to the needs of refugees in order to deliver our core mission of compassion, dignity, and humanity. We have managed to continuously adapt and change when gaps arouse and were even able to rise to the need for supporting integration with locals and on occasions the Roma community.
We would like to extend our thanks to all our fantastic supporters who have contributed and collaborated in various ways over the past 6 years. We really could not provide the support to everyone without you!
Tax exemption for USA donors
We have some exciting news for our supporters in the United States. We have partnered up with Safeplace International who have a 501(c) tax exemption for USA donors. All money donated through our site to their platform will be given directly to Starfish and get their tax back!
Over the years we have felt the warmth and generosity of our supporters, both individuals and organisations, in the US, and we are grateful to all those taking an interest in the situation here on Lesvos and the support for the projects we deliver. Today, we continue to provide important practical support to refugees here and rely on donations to resource our work.
Global Handwashing Day Activities
On Friday, the 15th of October, we celebrated Global Handwashing Day alongside a number of other organisations working with refugees on Lesvos. Despite the best efforts of the autumn storms to disrupt our events, we had a successful day delivering activities to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of handwashing with soap. The right to good water and hygiene facilities has always been an important pillar to refugee relief work, and here at Starfish, it has always been an area we care about. It has of course become even more important since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.
As we continue to adapt to living in a world with the virus, it is especially important to continue focussing and reminding people about the importance of good hand hygiene. Therefore, it was especially nice to participate in the Global Handwashing Day where we held childrens education and art sessions in the camp’s schools, a hand washing station that made special efforts to engage camp residents and the distribution of soap, sanitiser and masks for residents to take back to their tents.
Starfish continued late into the evening at OpenSpace in Mytilene town with an open event showcasing a hand washing station in front of our community hub as well as the distribution of free soap, bottles of sanitiser, t-shirts and even cloth masks to passersby!
Library Giving Tuesday
Our Library project has had another busy few months; children and adults have enjoyed our books and we have started supplying a community school inside the camp (Star School) run by refugees. The end of the year is an important time for our fundraising efforts with Global Giving. The annual fundraising day will be on Tuesday 30th November this year and we will be in with a chance of $1 million worth of Global Giving Incentive Funds if we reach the €2,500 fundraising target. We are very grateful for all those who have already donated to the Library Project but we still require further financial support for it to continue and expand. Starfish now has over 5000 books with 11 different languages but we still need more Farsi and Somalian books. So everyone’s donations will really be appreciated.
Thanks to the work of our Library Manager, Juan, and assistance of our community volunteer team in the camp Moyeen, Ezatullah, Mustapha and you have supported our pop-up online library in the camp.
If you would like to know more about our work please do follow along with us on social media (Instagram & Facebook) or volunteer opportunities please feel free to get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to donate then click the link below.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts here at Starfish