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Welcomed back …

So, We have returned to Samos, a beautiful Greek island hosting many refugees fleeing war and conflict and continuing to do so with respect and solidarity . We arrived to a lot of wonderful new faces of both refugee and volunteer … but of course the warmest welcome came from our own colleagues and comrades …

Samos is still in  the wake of a recent tragedy where 24 souls lost their lives and whose survivors are still being taken care of on the island . The Aegean sea is rough right now and the weather is cold , wet and windy. All of this means the numbers arriving  remain quite low , for now, but regardless,  the same help is offered, the same respect shown and the same dignity afforded to those needing solace, sanctuary and help.

20160205_134927Once back on the port, it does not take long to return to getting involved. One of the first jobs I had was to help a medic with a young girl of 9. This beautiful child had arrived on one of the boats from Turkey. The gasoline from the engine was leaking into the crowded boat. She sat for hours on a bench soaked in fuel and ended up with 3rd degree burns on her body. She was so brave as the dressings were changed, the burn washed and dead skin removed. That night I spoke to my sister and told her this story… Her answer , and the answer of any sane person with a conscience..

” It’s just not right, Children shouldn’t know that pain. At 9 years old we didn’t know anguish like that and that’s how it should be”

When it is not raining, India, a wonderful volunteer comes over to the medic cabin armed with paints, pads, colouring pens and toys  .. oh and plenty of wet wipes, ..and sets the children up painting, playing, interacting. We could all learn so much from these children. They play together, speak together, paint together regardless of colour, religion, or geology … the only conflict is who paints it better or who took all the red paint. An elderly man from Samos town comes down to hand out oranges picked fresh from his garden. If we have extra, we hand out glasses of milk and biscuits and for a little while they have a “childhood”…

Derek and I managed to replenish the shelves of pampers and milk. The daily distribution of nappies, milk, formula, wipes , baby bottles … whatever we have and whatever is needed continues. More bombs are being dropped, more borders threatening to close, more media feeding pararnoia …. and more people needing help. We continue to do what we can, and we continue to plead for your help to do so…

For paypal donations please click  …Donate

For those not using paypal, email jennygraham7@gmail.com for bank details

Apart from donations, Awareness of the truth is very important. Could you all please share our updates either from our blog or our facebook page: no more borders, no more tears or twitter: no more borders

Thank you all for your continued support and friendship … and stay in touch .

 

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Crossing borders…

10 years of the siege on Gaza…. and all we have learned is to build more walls and barbed wire fences .

The Rafah border remains closed , an illegal, inhumane siege by Israel, Egypt and the wider International community. Europe is now a fortress of armed guards, trenches, walls and fences. We are being dictated to by xenophobic, racist bigots as we decide which of them will ” lead the free world”….

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Our only hope is in ourselves.In a world of hatred, fear, divide , there is also always hope . In Palestine, In Greece, In Ireland we see true humanity and solidarity. We have always asked for and received whatever help needed. Thankfully, there still is good in the world.

Still we cannot return to Gaza…this border remains closed to us and more importantly to the thousands of palestinians needing , wanting and with every basic right to cross either in or out of Gaza. So now we make plans to return to the Greek islands.

picture no:1 , Rafah Border. Picture no 2: Samos island port.

We, together,  will continue to cross borders, We will continue to stand at the closing borders and shout for rights for all, We will continue to demand a return to humanity by all and for all.

We leave Ireland on January 30th . We would like to leave laden with support for those needing support. We can not bring actual aid as the shipping costs are so extravagant that we can purchase double the amount on arrival than we could afford to transport.We , as always, realise we need your support… financial, friendship … to continue.

Can you plan a quick fundraiser? A car boot sales profits? A bucket round your local? A contribution from a game of cards or a gig somewhere? Trust me, every cent helps for buying food , medical needs, hospital care, building work at the camps..its all necessary. We were very proud, thanks to many Irish groups last year including “Cork to Calais group” and the “Washbags to wellies” group to be able to purchase badly needed wheelchairs, stretchers, small medical equipment, food toys, and some tools just before we left …

People are still arriving in their thousands as the war mongerers continue to force peace loving families from their lands. Smugglers are still sending overcrowded boats at exorbatant costs , people are still losing their lives.

We have kissed the body of a young 8 month old girl , watched the father of a beautiful 4 year old child lay her body in the grave and held the mother of a 7 year old girl as she said her last goodbyes.  We have sat all night with an 11 year old child who watched her mother, brother and sister drown, and so many more tragic stories.This week alone 35 people have died in one tragedy alone  and it doesn’t stop, not while war is a business to some..

We have a paypal account for those of you on paypal, we also have a bank account, email me on jennygraham7@gmail.com for bank details. We will continue to update from Greece on this blog as well as on the “Irish in Gaza” facebook page.

For further reading please click the following links.

http://wp.me/psaGo-1p3  More souls lost.

http://wp.me/psaGo-1pk Denied a burial, 8 months old

http://wp.me/psaGo-1pG  lives lost

http://wp.me/psaGo-1qe A dark day

http://wp.me/psaGo-1qk  Good days

As always, our deepest appreciation… Happy new year…

And to our wonderful families, Thank you so much, we had a lovely Christmas. ( Our first at home in quite a few years)

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Happy New Year …

One border remains closed to us but others opened this year…. May 2016 be the year of no more closed frontiers, no more barbed wire, no more siege! No more ….

no-more-borders-no-more-tears-gabrielle-pescador

With love, Derek and Jenny …

To  Donate, click here..…………….Donate

 

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The door…

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Humans of Samos …

 

 

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So … Our time in Samos has come to an end …but just for now!   We will return, insh’allah, in January. There is so many to thank, so much more to say, so much to do … but Samos is in good hands.

The “Friendly humans”group of Samos volunteers … Inspirational! Every single morning, without fail, they provide breakfast to every refugee child on the island. These guys, while holding down jobs, taking care of families etc are on the port daily, nightly , whenever they’re needed to do whatever needed.Bettina, Yiannis, Yana , all of their group are the epitomy of the true meaning of “Human”…

Dr. Manos ( Batman) , a true hero of our time. This man, whilst taking care of any and all medical needs with respect and diligence can also regularly be found with a hammer in his hand, building fences from pallets, digging garbage out of drains. He takes his time to hold each child, comfort the mamas, speak to the papas and allow each patient the time they need to find comfort and healing in both a physical and emotional way… It has been our absolute priveledge to work alongside you, Manos.

The complete WAHA team, past and present, who compliment Dr.Manos with their medical expertise. Again always willing to take up a sweeping brush, a garbage bag or a child in need … understanding the dynamics of being involved in an emergency crises being played out on a island sea port… Well done all of you.

To all the volunteers, those arriving for a few days, those staying a month or those who come back as soon as work, family or commitments allow… keep up the good work, you are all amazing…but remember to take breaks. Give both body and mind time to sleep, recuperate and re-energize … you can only give what you have, let that be strength and humanity, not frustration and signs of exhaustion. We hope to meet you all again someday and enjoyed meeting each of you, Well done..

Greek civil society, Samos island residents, port police, police, security personal and coast guards,Anastasia and all at Archipelagos Marine Institute ( you are the reason we actually ended up on Samos) and all NGO’s, It was our pleasure and honour to work alongside all of you. We seen first hand how many of you went above and beyond your jobs and with respect and genuine solidarity took care of many people in need. The security guard ,Kostas, who walked the port with us at night to ensure anyone in need was taken care of, the port police man, Giannis, that sat with me as we rocked an 11 year old survivor of a boat tragedy to sleep, the coast guards risking their lives to rescue survivors and recover the lost souls…all of you, each of you showing the world the true spirit of humanity, decency and what it means to be human.

We will return to Samos and continue to need your help. Any donation ( via paypal or bank)received between now and then will be saved for when we return next month …and used again in the most helpful way possible.

We thank , with all our hearts , all of you who continue to support us and all we do, or at least try to do… We realise and acknowledge we are very little without any of you, family, friends, comrades and colleagues. Continue to show the world we have hope, a sense of justice and a desire for a world without war, without racism, bigotry or needless suffering, a world where each living person has a home and a helping hand…

And lastly, To the refugees themselves, we wish we could name each of you by name, it is the least you deserve. You have shown us courage, strength and dignity in the face of terror, horror, adversity and death. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to show you there are still some good people in this world, thank you for showing us the truth, for sharing a small part of your Ives with us… Insh’Allah there will be a day we will meet you as you all return home…

In the words of our dearest but departed friend and comrade, Vittorio, Thank you for showing us how to “Stay Human”.

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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…

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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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2015-11-23 14.23.24

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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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