One last big push?

So… as many of you who have been following us the last few years will  know, We rarely get to spend Christmas with family. This year , as we are based in Greece, at least for us the borders are open.  The same sadly  can not be said for hundreds more who must now face the Balkan countries in degrees below zero. They will also face racism, hatred, abuse and closed frontiers .Let us not become a world that will once again turn our backs on those in need… In the spirit of christmas, the spirit of humanity, let us offer a hand of friendship amid a wave of intolerance, ignorance  and discriminations. Let us never again see signs like this…


England, circa 1966

Let me give you a quick update on the port. The weather here in Samos has been very very windy and showery so very few boats have been arriving. One large boat got in to trouble near some rocks 2 days ago, the smuggler who was actually on the boat , escaped via jet ski. Thankfully all 95 on board were rescued safely by a Swedish sea rescue team here on the island.

The camp on the port itself has now been totally restructured. It is much more sheltered from the sea breeze, laid out more securely. We have a power bank for charging phones etc so people can call home to family members. A large marquee means that those in tents can now pitch their tents inside the marquee. We have a lot more IKEA cabins almost completed. Food, clothes and emergency distributions are still needed and still going ahead.The drains have all been cleaned out, cabins washed, toilets cleaned and we are ready for whoever needs us next. Safe play areas are set up for the children.Its not perfect … but it offers at least some basic sense of humanity from people offering help with only good in their hearts …

As I keep reiterating, we, all of us, are doing our best… but people are still in a hard situation. The strange weather here means the mosquitoes are out in force each evening. So many people are having strong reactions to the bites, men, women and children. We all carry around creams, pens, repellent etc to try to help.The showery weather also means we are handing out hundreds of rain ponchos again… clothes , blankets etc  are getting wet…and the rainy season and winter itself is only just beginning.


We were honoured this week to have a visit from Archbishop Jeronimos of Greece. Despite his age, he walked the camp to offer his solidarity, blessing and prayers to all….and all were very appreciative of his gesture

We need your help…again.

We need to replenish the stocks, food, water, hygiene needs, mosquitoes creams ….everything . Your support so far has been amazing. The nights are now dark, cold and no doubt lonely and fearful for so many…

And so, our time on Samos for this year is almost up. If one border, the Rafah border to Gaza,  remains closed to us, we will return in January. But be it Palestine or Greece,  We will continue with your help and your support to fight for the rights of all, the opening of all borders and a demand for the basic human rghts of all people regardless of colour or creed.

Before we leave, We are asking for one big push … A Christmas gesture perhaps , a chance to restock, purchase whatever is needed , supply whatever is wanted to make this week and the weeks to come as bearable, as easy, as safe and as clean as possible for those asking for help.

You can donate via PayPal or email us at jennygraham7@gmail.com

PS… We also had another visitor twice this week. The legendary crazy monk seal of Samos who can regularly be found on Sunbeds or cafes around Samos island. She paid us another visit right outside our cabin this morning, much to the delight and bewilderment of all the children..


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The refugees on Samos port are now warmer, drier..safer. This is what can be achieved when humanity and solidarity comes together. While totally condemning the abhorrent attacks in Paris this week in which 129 innocent people lost their lives and many others were critically injured, we also continue to acknowledge the many refugees that are also fleeing the same terror in their own country.

Samos port has been restructured. More cabins added, a large marquee for those without cabins, a more sheltered layout. Doctors, nurses, NGO and volunteers all came together… and not forgetting the help of the refugees themselves. More importantly and more impressively is the constant help, support and solidarity from the local community of Samos which has never once waivered … they truly know and display true humanity and solidarity to their fellow man. If you would like to continue to help, please donate via PayPal or email us at : jennygraham7@gmail.com for bank details or more information..

As always, Thank you,

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A dark day for volunteers in Samos island, Greece. This is why we are here. These are the reasons we ask for your help. We spoke of this tragedy in our previous post.click on link below for video.  Please continue to donate via paypal, continue to share our posts for awareness. Thank you .


Exceptionally hard week in Samos island. On Tuesday morning the souls of the three young children from one of the sunken boats were finally laid to rest. Although honoured to be asked to attend, the despair and grief as the little bodies were laid respectfully in a shared grave in a corner of the cemetary should remind us all of the human side of a crisis so often portrayed as just a news story focused on statistics and political games. The families, still suffering,  must now leave behind the graves of their children and continue on for the sake of their surviving children … a journey forced upon them by war!

I was asked to go to the port police station also since our last post to deal with families from a second boat tragedy. 11 people lost heir lives only 25 metres off the shore. All women and children. One man spoke of how he was fleeing war in Syria with his family, only for tragedy to follow. That morning he had a wife, 2 daughters and a son …. now he has to find a life for just him and his baby boy as his wife and two young daughters bodies were taken from the boat. I cradled a young girl until she finally fell into a fitful sleep. ” N” is eleven years old and was travelling with her mama, her brother and her sister … all except “N” perished on the boat. I stayed with her in the police station and later in the pediatric wing of the hospital until finally the next day we could reunite her with her father…. The bodies of her family were taken on the ship last night to Athens where they will be buried. Sadly these are just a small percentage of the lives being lost and destroyed .

We have also had to deal with various vulnerable cases this week. Cases needing help with counselling, families travelling with handicapped children, elderly parents, women travelling alone or with children and a lack of information before arriving in Greece.

All of this has been compounded this week by a ferry strike. The ferries stopped running on Monday and did not resume untill last night ( Friday). The smugglers did not stop which resulted in there being approximately 6000 on Samos port. We try our best, we all do , but we did not, do not  have the capability or materials to help these numbers. Because of this, many people suffered even more this week. We did not have enough blankets or shelter to go around. Hundreds were forced to sleep on the cold concrete of the quayside with perhaps only a jacket as cover. As I write we still do not have enough blankets for tonight and we are about to run out of nappies for the children.


Unsurprisingly, this has all resulted in tension on the port….but thankfully we all still manage to cooperate and try to do our best… NGO, volunteers , civil society and refugee… we all take up a broom or a pair of rubber gloves at the end of a day  ( usually well after midnight) and do our best to clean the port… we get offered so much help as volunteer translators from many people arriving here … Arabic,Afghani, Pakistani or Iranian… all wanting to help.

So, as I said , no week is easy but this one was harder than ever. Tiredness, sometimes a total sense of despair and a huge sense of loss … and then a young girl, in the midst of grief hugs you, kisses you and hands you a small gift of a beautiful pendant that I will keep forever and it is a stark reminder to appreciate what we have, remember how blessed we are and continue to fight for justice, for a more equal society and a chance for children, mama’s, papa’s to never have to flee war, bury their families because of War…a chance to just live.

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Last night we said goodbye to some of these families.. we exchange whatsapp contacts and wait and pray in the hope that someday they will contact us to say they are safe, happy and finally living….

And now, yet again, I make no apologies in asking for help. We desperately, desperately need funding for more blankets, tents, nappies and baby milk as well as so much more. Any amount, every amount will and does help . So many of you have helped already, so many people have at least been warm and dry in Samos because of you. Thank you.

You can donate via PayPal or contact us for more information on how to help or for bank details for transfer. Jennygraham7@gmail.com

As always, please share to reach as many as possible, we appreciate any and all support,

Derek and Jenny.

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She is eight months old and her little body is lost at sea. On Wednesday  evening we received news to head to the port authority with blankets, mats, food and water. On arrival shocking scenes of grief, despair and desperation awaited us as the port police and doctors tried, with as much respect as possible and as diligently as possible, to match up family members. Ten boats, again not fit for purpose, had crashed into rocks on the opposite side of Samos island. Despite the bravery of some on board, one young man and 3 children were washed overboard and lost their lives. One young girl is still recovering in hospital after being revived on shore and one angel was not found.

The parents had to identify their children from photographs taken at the hospital. Offering as much help and comfort as we could, anger again begins to build. We hold the Turkish Government totally responsible for the death of these young people…It is absolutely impossible for an operation of this size to continue on Turkish shores without their knowledge….This is no longer just a political game but an insane game of roulette with people’s lives. There were two thousand people at Samos port again last night needing help while waiting to continue their journey. Samos is now second only to Lesbos in terms of the numbers arriving each day.

Yesterday morning we joined the bereaved family members at the hospital to help with funeral arrangements and offer support and solidarity. The bodies will be buried here in Samos before the families continue their journey …. Where they find the strength… I can’t imagine. The funerals will take place on Monday. We have spent time with the families, seen their loss , spoke of the children and young man, seen their pictures, know their names … but the families, although partly the responsibility of all of us, are still grieving and deserve some privacy and dignity so we are not publishing any names.

As for the port… some updates Members of IOCC ….. joined us late last week and are already in the process of plumbing up new toilets and showers. One of the coordinators from the UN now join Derek and I on the port at night after the ships leave and distribute some blankets to those still sleeping on the quayside… all massive improvements to basic needs. I can not speak for other islands but here on Samos, life would be even harder for those arriving if not for the brilliant solidarity and humanity of local civil society and small local groups.  Groups such as “The friendly humans” who distribute breakfast every morning, then cook hot meals for a few hundred every evening, The “Archipelagos” marine Institute” that allow their store to be used for aid donations, both local and international and allow some volunteers to stay in their premises and all the local groups here, groups in general who offer all kinds  of help.

The weather is very changeable… though the nights continue to get colder. Large storms late last week meant less boats arrived so we managed to clean out all the cabins, washed out and ready for the hundreds that arrived as soon as the storms subsided.

Please remember the  bodies waiting to be buried, the young mans life cut short, the tiny body of eight month old child still missing at sea, the pain and anguish of their families. Sadly there will be more . There are still thousands beginning a journey through Europe’s harsh winter and closed frontiers.

For 25 euro we can provide a pop up tent to at least keep a family dry on the port. 10 euro will buy a lot of rain poncho’s that keep clothes and bags dry both here and on the journey ahead. Share our posts. We need as much help as possible. You can donate via PayPal or email us for bank details or suggestions on best to help.’We had problems with internet this week but we are back on line now.

As always, your support and solidarity is appreciated and deeply needed.

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More souls lost ….

We don’t see much mainstream media,mostly due to lack of hours in the day so I may be contradicting them  here ( not something I am apologising for) but let me tell you from the front line … the numbers arriving have neither stopped or reduced, in fact just the opposite!

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This week alone we have had thousands on Samos Port. The numbers on the small iinflatable dinghy’s are increasing and the recklessness and abandonment with which the smugglers dice with peoples lives show no signs of humanity. The children arriving on the boats now wear blow up life jackets, the ones our children wear under supervision in a paddling pool . Their lives will not be saved by them! 4 young souls (children)drowned at Sea on Tuesday. 2 young expectant women miscarried their babies not long after reaching Samos. Derek takes people to the hospital several times each night as the red cross work “office hours only” 8 – 4 …..

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Due to the large numbers arriving, the situation on the port is becoming a serious cause for concern. The toilets, one for men and one for women are in a substandard state and are now also a health risk. We have mentioned this on a daily basis to the UN but still nothing has changed. The large numbers also mean we do not have nearly enough blankets or mats for those sleeping outside and the nights are cold now.We bring whatever we can each night …. We stay each night until the early hours..

There is no way of knowing when the next emergency arises. Saturday night, just after midnight, the 3 volunteers that were still on the port, Derek, Mette and myself were getting ready to leave. We were taking the last few blankets around the camp to cover whoever we could when the coast guard arrived. It quickly became apparent that the 49 on board were in a bad  way. They had been in the sea for twelve hours  and hypothermia was a major concern.The faces of the coast gaurd and port police were ashen as they handed over a two month old baby, wet soiled and shaking.After wrapping as many as we could in tin foil emergency blankets and the rest in towels etc, We got the babies dry , changed , dressed and fed…. next the women dried and changed and finally the men. Emergency world food programme biscuits and bottles of water handed to everyone and finally by 2.30 everybody was at least safe for now…although we had only blankets left for the babies and children so a long cold night still waited many.

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We will continue here for as long as we can. Please continue to support us in whatever way you can while politicians continue to play a game of chess with peoples lives. All donations go directly to helping those in need …blankets, baby milk socks , underwear whatever we can. You can donate via our PayPal page or email us for bank details. jennygraham7@gmail.com

We, as always, need and appreciate your help.

Derek and Jenny …. please share to reach as many as possible.

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The boats continue to arrive on Samos island. After paying 1200 dollars per person in Turkey the refugees are pilled,  between 30 and 45 in a small rubber dinghy and pointed in the direction of Greece with no GPS and no captain and despite the large amount of money, they regularly do not have enough fuel for the journey.. Some but not all make it and are rescued by the Greek coastal patrol, some veer off course and hit rocks and some capsize. For those that do make it, they arrive wet, scared, hungry, burned from the sun and totally dehydrated, many have lost everything and whatever they manage to hold on to is usually soaking wet.

Once they arrive on the port, they are divided into two groups, Syrian and non Syrian. We have worryingly, still not been given permission to visit the camp holding those not arriving g from Syria. For the Syrians, once registered they are free to leave the port while waiting for the next ferry to Athens, which now departs every 2 days with thousands on board. The vast majority remain in the port for various reasons, some just can’t afford even the cheaper of hotels but most are too scared to leave.

Derek and I stay on the port for between 10 and 12 hours a day along with a small number of others volunteers. There is a Greek doctor, Manos, here, one of the most humanitarian and decent people I have had the pleasure to work alongside. His support to the refugees, his demeanour and his friendship means he is asked to go above and behind his remit , and he does so seven days a week.

Our priority when the boats arrive is to get those in need of medical help to Dr. Manos or the red cross field tent. Many children are severely dehydrated so sips of water, milk or vitamin drinks are distributed. Many kids have also not made it to a toilet on time so we get them dry and changed. Men, women and children are all wet and we provide what ever dry clothes we can, trying to at least make sure everyone has dry socks and underwear, a blanket or a mat , some water , some energy biscuits from the UN or some bread donated. Derek then gets as many of the families, elderly and children in to the empty cabins ( see last post).


By now the port police and any NGO’s have left for the day so the volunteers and Manos remain behind. We continue to give out whatever we have been donated, perhaps buy more food and water if possible. Because of a desperate lack of funds, we are constantly rationing whatever we have or worse, we can not give someone the most basic of help … I cried the day I could not even provide sanitary pads to a young woman .

We stay well in to the night trying to make sure everyone is safe, those having to sleep outside at least have a jacket or blanket a mat …something…anything… Sometimes We just sit and talk, many people just want to know what happens next, or they want someone to listen. The children, resilient as ever, have now found the toys we keep for them and are doing what kids do best… just living in the moment and not worrying about tomorrow….they leave that to mama and papa.

As the sun goes down, we sit cross legged together listening to their reason for leaving, their hopes for a future in Europe, their dreams of returning home their enormous gratitude for those of you who have helped and continue to support and total despair of being in this situation at all.

Tomorrow we start again. Our day usually starts the same. We drive from our small rented room to the port and pick up as many of the hundreds we pass on the road as possible. We desperately, desperately need help, we need funds to continue. Can you donate? Can you fundraise? Can you at least share our updates in the hope that someone can offer us some help? We are all a part of this ….

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