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HOME?!

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“I want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important…” excerpt from  Home
By Warsan Shire

And so war, conflict and brutality, rape, pillage and greed  has forced thousands to seek refuge elsewhere . As with any Mother, any Father worthy of the title, they take their children, they sent their children, to a place of safety, a land of peace, except in return we have offered little more than hatred, despised their ever being here, shunned their attempts at integration and spat on their need to find refuge, temporarily, before returning home…a home destroyed by greed and business of War.

Thankfully, there are good people, of all faiths and colour, of all nationality and gender who realize this is one world, not a world that in which should exist a them and us system, where apartheid on any scale is immoral. where xenophobia should be nothing more than an odd sounding word. People , who when asked for help, help.People who have not forgotten history and realize it could so easily be us or our children/grandchildren one day…

We are still here in Samos, a beautiful Greek Island where refugees have been arriving for many many months now. All the refugees arriving on the island are arrested and taken to the RIC otherwise known as the camp or the hotspot. ( Abbreviations and acronyms seem to be a backbone of the large NGO’s and have never been something I can keep up with or see a point to ). Most if not all of those seeking refuge through the Samos camp are here for over 4 months now. A cold , wet winter which has now evolved into an extremely hot summer  was/is  spent in a camp not fit for purpose.

Samos camp is an old military barracks now holding up to 900 people, others are now housed out side the camp ( some but not yet all the unaccompanied minors, vulnerable families etc) . It is not fit for purpose! It is built on a steep incline and the camp itself is a steep incline. Elderly, disabled , babies, pregnant woman,  those injured from war are the main residents .It comprises two sections, the old ( upper ) section and the new ( lower) section. The upper section is tiers of old cabins, rusty, bad plumbing, no ventilation packed closely together with many tents and man made shelters in between for those still with out containers. The newer lower section have better cabins, more ventilation and cleaner areas. Regularly there is no running water in the camp and never too much hurry from anyone to address the problem when its reported. Until recently, the only shading in the camp from a viciously hot sun was in and around the Asylum officers containers, although tellingly not directly outside the container where residents of the camp must queue for hours in the midday sun. ( This is still the case but Samaritans purse, one of the very few   NGO’s  who are actually doing something in the camp have taken on the responsibility of maintenance including shading) The volunteers themselves have already erected shading over the tent being used as a school and run by the refugees themselves.The container that was burnt out a few months ago is still there, a health hazard, an eyesore and a waste of valuable space with nobody seemingly willing to accept responsibility , We actually offered to take it away, and reuse the space but were told it is “all in hand”.. ITS STILL THERE!

There is no access to wifi for the camp residents. We bring this up at co ordination meetings each week, and we will continue to do so. For me personally this is so important. We ( Derek and I ) have been shot at, locked up, imprisoned and lived in war zones. In these situations it is vitally important to be able to communicate with family, vital to be able to research your options when little to no information is being given to you. Without access to internet the Skype calls that the asylum offices suggest as a way to further your applications can not happen, the information online from all the NGO’s is not accessible, news from home can not be followed . Sadly, it can not even be put down as a “area signal ” problem as UNHCR and all the other main actors have had access to internet from day one! Sadder still when Article 19 has been adapted to include Human Rights Online!!!

For those of you who don’t know, Article 19 is part of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as stated by The Human Rights Council by The United Nations. Article 19 states that,  “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

The adaptation of Article 19 consists of 15 points…with number 1 stating .“Affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”  

 The volunteers on the island, as I am sure at all the other camps, originally came here, or for those already living on the island, became involved, to fill in the gaps inevitably left by those who use “working hours “and “bureaucracy ” as an excuse, have ultimately become the backbone of the camps. Locals and Internationals have distributed the clothes, pitched the tents, carried the water, provided the transport etc etc.

For Derek and I, we were always and still are Human rights activists, not humanitarian workers, but human rights is very pluralistic and may consist of the right to freedom of expression, or the right to a shelter, the right to access to information or the right to basic clean water. We adapt, like all the volunteers, to changing situations, we take our lead from those in the camp and what they need and when. We are not and hopefully have never come across as being Moral police , we live in the situation we are in. It is because of this belief and this attitude that we are accepted by those we work with who find themselves at this juncture living in a camp, we work  alongside those in this situation not for them, we assist in their needs as they do ours at times. We believe in all aspects of a dignified life, even at the lowest and hardest of times and so we , alongside helping to provide vitals,  have initiated a cafe where all are welcome to share a coffee and a chat, cricket matches where team work and competition go hand in hand , we are working on adult craft evenings ( knitting, crochet etc) . We offer lifts to ferries and airports when needed, we socialize, converse, eat and drink together.

We have also come to realize  that of those who arrived over 4 months ago , many  have now used up pretty much all their savings. Food is of such a low standard in the camp that many have had to supplements their families diet themselves, the lack of wifi means to stay in touch , phone cards must be bought regularly. We try to ensure and provide toiletries, sanitary items, bags for travelling, we purchase tea, coffee, sugar, juice for the cafe, transport costs money, we supplement some families in more need at a particular time for personal items,. We use our own phones to allow people to contact home whenever credit allows. We are providing refreshments at the cricket match, lifts to appointments and whatever else we can. We are concentrating a lot of our concerns and time on the plight of the Palestinian Syrians here in Samos who are not being given time or information from the main actors /authorities.

It is for these reasons we ask regularly for your help via donations and through sharing our updates.

“no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here”

Please continue to do what you can to help, It is only through your support we can continue, be it here in Samos for now or wherever we are  most needed in the future. W are in desperate need of funds and any help is greatly appreciated. We are not funded, salaried or stipended. Paypal address :https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=6N9E4XQ36XGJL

jennygraham7@gmail.com

Go fund me page :https://www.gofundme.com/278zukw4

facebook: no more borders No more tears

Twitter : @nomoreborders1

FULL POEM …  http://seekershub.org/blog/2015/09/home-warsan-shire/

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Here’s where you can meet the children from Al-Helal football academy in Ireland who have been brought to Ireland by Gaza Action Ireland.

Wednesday, August 3rd: activities in Tipperary, including visit to Cloughjordan eco-village (c1.30pm) and hurling lessons!

Thursday, August 4th: at the Kinvara, Co Galway, pitch, Killina, activities from 4.30pm, with a match against Kinvara United at 7pm

Friday, August 5th: children will be guests at Galway Utd v Dundalk football match

Eamon Deacy Park, Galway, 7.45pm kickoff, with the kids forming a guard of honour before the match and playing on the pitch at halftime

Saturday, August 6th: football tournament v Nenagh AFC & Nenagh Celtic, 12 noon

Sunday, August 7th: a match at the People’s Park in Limerick at 3pm

See the Gaza Action Ireland Facebook page for more information.

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Proud to share this event….
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Details
This Monday, August 1st, at 6pm in Banba square, please come along to give a big Nenagh welcome to our visitors, the Al Helal under 14 football club from Gaza.
On the following day, the Hibernian Inn will host a Civic Reception at 6.30pm. The Palestinian Ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek will attend along with local councillors, and Councillor Phyll Bugler, chair of the Nenagh-Newport Municipal Area.
It is such a great and unique opportunity for these kids to get out of the conflict zone they live in and visit us here in Ireland.

It is also a great opportunity for Nenagh to be hosting the team for 5 nights next week with accomodation provided by Peter & Deirdre Ryan of The Ormond Hotel. Transport for the week is being provided by Andy Kennedy Arra Travel.

We hope the people of Nenagh will get out and give them the big welcome they deserve.

All are welcome please help spread the word.

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I used to love, and still miss hearing the call of the messaharati during Ramadan in Gaza… and I love the fact that Michel is Christian , wonderful solidarity.

 

 

 

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Today, 22-06-2016, Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States of America,  came to our home town of Ballina, Co, Mayo. Ireland… We happened to be home ….

Not to be outdone, We flew the flag. :)… PALESTINE!

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A beautiful soul whom Derek and I have the absolute honour of saying we knew and greatly admired. The world is certainly a better place for having known and hopefully learned from the pure heart and fighting spirit of Hedy Epstein.
Hedy often shared her philosophy of service with these words: “If we don’t try to make a difference, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t try to right the wrong that we see, we become complicit. I don’t want to be guilty of not trying my best to make a difference.”

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http://us8.campaign-archive2.com/?u=636c372fde26d045706c7025f&id=4a52960d99

Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, 91, died at her home in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, on May 26, 2016. An internationally renowned, respected and admired advocate for human and civil rights, Hedy was encircled by friends who lovingly cared for her at home.

Born August 15, 1924, in the Bavarian region of Germany, her lifelong commitment to human rights was formed by the horrific experiences she and her family endured under the repressive Nazi regime.

Unable to secure travel documents for themselves, Hedy’s parents, Hugo and Ella (Eichel) Wachenheimer, arranged for 14-year-old Hedy to leave Germany on a Kindertransport. Hedy credited her parents with giving her life a second time when they sent her to England to live with kind-hearted strangers. Hedy’s parents, grandparents, and most of her aunts, uncles and cousins did not survive the Holocaust. Hedy remained in England until 1945 when she returned to Germany to work for the United States Civil Service. She joined the Nuremberg Doctors Trial prosecution in 1946 as a research analyst.

Hedy immigrated to the United States in 1948. She and her husband moved to St. Louis in the early 1960s, and shortly thereafter Hedy began working as a volunteer with the Freedom of Residence, Greater St. Louis Committee, a nonprofit organization dedicated to housing integration and advocacy for fair housing laws. Hedy worked for many years as a volunteer and board member, and ultimately served as the organization’s executive director during the mid-1970s.

During the 1980s, Hedy worked as a paralegal for Chackes and Hoare, a law firm that represented individuals in employment discrimination cases. As an advocate for equality and human rights, Hedy spoke out against the war in Vietnam, the bombing of Cambodia, and overly restrictive U.S. immigration policies. She spoke and acted in support of the Haitian boat people and women’s reproductive rights, and, following the 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatila, Hedy began her courageous and visionary work
for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine.

During her later years, Hedy continued to advocate for a more peaceful world, and in 2002 was a founding member of the St. Louis Instead of War Coalition. Much of her later activism centered on efforts to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. She founded the St. Louis chapter of Women in Black and co-founded the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee and the St. Louis chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. She traveled to the West Bank several times, first as a volunteer with the nonviolent International Solidarity Movement and repeatedly as a witness to advocate for Palestinian human
rights. She attempted several times to go to Gaza as a passenger with the Freedom Flotilla, including as a passenger on the Audacity of Hope, and once with the Gaza Freedom March. Hedy addressed numerous groups and organizations throughout Europe and returned to Germany and her native village of Kippenheim many times.

Three days after her 90th birthday, Hedy was arrested for “failure to disperse.” She was attempting to enter Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s St. Louis office to ask for de-escalation of police and National Guard tactics which had turned violent in response to protests following the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Hedy was a member of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center’s speakers’ bureau and gave countless talks at schools and community events. She shared her Holocaust experiences with thousands of Missouri youth as a featured speaker at the Missouri Scholars Academy for more than twenty years. She ended every talk with three requests: remember the past, don’t hate, and don’t be a bystander.

Through the years, Hedy received numerous awards and honors for her compassionate service and relentless pursuit of justice.

Hedy is survived by son Howard (Terry) Epstein, and granddaughters Courtney and Kelly. She was beloved and will be truly missed by countless friends in St. Louis and around the world.

Hedy often shared her philosophy of service with these words: “If we don’t try to make a difference, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t try to right the wrong that we see, we become complicit. I don’t want to be guilty of not trying my best to make a difference.”

Hedy always did her best, and the difference she made is evident in the commitment and passion of those called to continue her work. Her friends and admirers honor and salute her deep and lifelong dedication to tikkun olam, the just re-ordering of the world and promise to remember, to stay human, and to never be bystanders.

A memorial service will be held in Forest Park at a date and time to be determined. Donations in Hedy’s name may be made to Forest Park Forever to establish a permanent tribute, 5595 Grand Drive in Forest Park, St. Louis, MO 63112; American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102; American Civil Liberties Union, 125 Broad St. 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004; and/or American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Foundation, 454 Whittier St., St. Louis, MO 63108.
 

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It was not groundbreaking, it did not remove the fences or cut down the barbed wires. The same problems will still be there tomorrow but for two hours tonight the mental barriers erected by circumstance ( and politics and war) were demolished.Those here in samos seeking refuge from horrors beyond most of our imaginations, got the chance to sit and be “normal” Last night we opened a free cafe in the camp…

We were not volunteers and refugees, we were not them and us . We were humans of all walks of life, all nationalities, cultures, languages…but a cup of coffee is a cup of coffee

let me explain. We bought chairs, laid out blankets, provided tables and poured coffee and tea. We bought playing cards, draughts, dominoes. We did not ask for a queue to be formed nor a ticket to be stamped. There was no checking of numbers or ID. We offered a coffee, a conversation, a chance to relax and a chance to feel human.

I hope you can appreciate the importance of this, of regaining your name for a moment, of regaining your dignity, of not having to ask for every little thing. The importance of dignity in a situation where perhaps that is all you have left…your name and your dignity, both of which you may feel are slowly being stripped away. Perhaps to sit and talk, to sit and listen to peoples dreams and nightmares, to peoples reasons for fleeing, their hopes of a future, their desires to return , their loss, their beliefs of a future again for  their children is a small step in breaching this racist xenophobic imaginary line that divides so many..or perhaps its even more simple,  for a few hours it may well just be a coffee, a game of dominoes and a shared respect .

Whatever these evenings may become will no doubt become more apparent if we are able to continue. and we do hope to continue..

As previously explained, photographs are forbidden from being taken inside the camp.

Can you help us to share a coffee ? our paypal address is jennygraham7@gmail.com ( irish in gaza account).

 

 

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