What we are doing at 10 months old

A lot has changed since we arrived in Alexandreia in April 2016. We started with one shop stocking a few essential items and now we offer range of services that our fantastic volunteers and trusting donors have helped us develop and refine – all under our guiding principle of Aid with Dignity.

We’re central to all the activities in Alexandreia, well established in Filippiada and now expanding into a third camp at Katsikas. While Refugee Support is led by 2 people, everything we now do has been the result of the ideas and hard work of the extraordinary volunteers who have joined us and who continue to support us.

Things move quickly so this list is likely to be different when we hit the end of our first year but, currently, here is what we do:

Distribution in Alexandreia and Filippiada
– One visit a week to a mini-market under a points based system where we can stock whatever food people want and they can choose whatever they want with their points (equivalent to about €5 per person)
– One visit every 3 weeks to a boutique to select 5-6 items of carefully sorted and well-presented clothing in a calm, shop environment (with dedicated boutiques for women, men and children in Filippiada)
– Monthly distributions of carefully sorted and well-presented shoes (with a dedicated shoe-tique in Filippiada)
– Regular distributions of toys and games when we have enough for all kids using a points system where kids get tokens to spend on differently priced items

Distribution in Katsikas
– Ownership of a large hanger on-site which we are currently stripping down and significantly redeveloping to create a series of pleasant shop and cafe environments

Deliveries
– Off-site warehouses to receive deliveries and sort clothing (with the ability to receive container loads and palleted deliveries in Alexandreia)

Kids activities
– Our Refugee Penfriend project has so far matched 20 kids from Alexandreia with kids in the UK and we are expanding this into Filippiada and Veria camps (managed by Amanda, Rana and Jasmine)
Physical and creative activities most days in co-operation with other NGOs on-site
– The creation of a kids playground at Alexandreia with 6 swings, 6 rockers and a trim trail and another in development at Filippiada

Specific to Alexandreia
– A completely re-fitted community kitchen developed by Sue and run by a joint resident and volunteer team under the guidance of an experienced chef (currently Nicolai) that produces a hot, nutritious, Syrian meal once a day, 6 days a week
– English language classes for beginners, intermediate and advanced speakers 6 days a week (designed and run by Kelley)
– A full functioning library lending system for English, German and Arabic books (designed by Andrew and meticulously set up by Ian
– A cafeteria with music and television developed from a derelict roon which we supply and maintain and is run by a team of residents on the camp
– Arranging for new-born babies and their mothers to spend time in local accommodation post-partum until they have recovered from the birth

Volunteers
– An interview with our lovely and super-efficient recruitment team of Ellie, Leti, Sarah and Paula before being booked in to explain how we work and to answer any questions
– A daily briefing held by our amazing Volunteer Co-ordinators (Tony in Alexandreia, Eline in Filippiada and Jorgen and Roberta in Katsikas) to hear feedback, manage self-care and assign their activities for the day
Arabic conversation classes in our school
– A telephone debrief service with a counsellor (Sue) to talk through their experience and help with any difficulties returning to normal life
– A closed facebook page for the 300 who have worked with us for them to share stories, help each other and stay connected

Supporting other NGOs
– Weekly co-ordination meetings with all NGOs and site management
– A trusted partner to receive and store their deliveries in Alexandreia (eg Carry the Future)
Share items where we have a surplus (eg St Elizabeths Medical, Help Refugees and smaller NGOs)
Distribute their goods and donations (eg the UNHCR, IRC, Help Refugees and Hellenic Red Cross)

Telling people what we do
– This website with significant technical input from Chris and Rhys and which is also translated in Spanish by Victor, Helia, Jorge and Ceclia
– Our facebook page
Videos by Bob and Victor with another under development by Luke
– A monthly newsletter to report to our donors (created and managed by Susi at Vervate)
Instagram (expertly managed by Frederica)
– A Twitter presence being grown by Belinda
– Book-keeping and financial reports by our ever-patient Ian
– And a lot of volunteers who continue to spread the message among their network, send donations and raise more funds

We may have missed something! What we’ve learnt is that the world is full of people who want to support refugees and the local Greek communities and, together, we can make a difference.

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