All donations are welcome
Here’s what we did on Saturday morning… We headed down to Yialos to do our regular three hours at the refugee station. That’s all we can do at the moment and many others are doing a lot more hours than we are, but we did take some washing down that we had done during the week, plus three bags of donations people had given us as they left to go home after a holiday. So, pretty nicely ladened down, we wandered down to the old post office.
There we discovered that 100 refugees had left on the Blue Star the previous evening and 50 had just landed and were being taken to the port police station to start their registration process.
Visitors who came to donate at the refugee station
Now here’s a thing that will calm all those silly people who are paranoid and think that every refugee is an IS terrorist – in fact those people seem to think that every Muslim is an IS terrorist, and those people really ought to get an education and calm down a little. Would it help if I told you that there were probably more terrorists entering your country quite legitimately today, right now, than there are washing up on Greek shores this month? You see, when a refugee lands in Greece, this is the start of the process: they are fingerprinted and have their photo taken, their details are recorded, their passports are recorded and 17 pieces of paper per refugee are filled out. That’s what each one has to go through – and what our port police and police-police have to do for each of the 50 who arrived on Saturday, and for every single person who arrives here without a visa. Now then, if I was a terrorist and wanted to slip into, say, the UK, without detection would I a) get on a plane with a visa (a real one would be safest) and a passport and pose as a tourist or business person, or b) join a group of strangers walking hundreds of miles across Turkey, risking detection by the Turkish authorities (who may even send me back to Syria as they are now starting to do), then pay thousands to get in a boat and risk sinking and drowning to then face the Greek authorities (fingerprints, photos, 17 forms to fill out) and then walk from Greece to Hungary and face detection and aggravation from the Hungarian authorities and then, hopefully, walk through Austria, Germany and France, and then hang around at Calais hoping to get through and then… I think we can all rest assured that most refugees are not going to blow up your shopping centre, love.
Keeps children busy and gives them some normality in a strange world
I digress. There will be another of my replies to the current round of racist arguments during the week. But back to Saturday… So, I went with Andy to welcome these new refugees with some fruit, water, milk, biscuits, wet wipes and a smile. I also got to ride in the Manos Fish Taverna pink golf cart which was a bit of a bonus. We gave out the supplies, Andy explained to the refugees what would happen next and how, when they were done there, they would be able to come around to the other side, see the police and then use the Solidarity Symi aid station. We also assured them that a doctor would be over to see them soon. One lady was suffering from very high sugar levels, not having been able to take her insulin. We also cleared up the steps where someone had been sick and then headed back to the OPO (Old post office, where Solidarity Symi has the aid station.)
Panos, Cindy and Clive who donated clothes and bags to carry them in
Back there, Neil had been tidying up with another volunteer and, as things were quiet for a change, we were able to sort donations and do bits and pieces. A lovely lady from Penzance was there and attended to the curtain in the medical room so now the doctors have a decent curtain which opens and closes smoothly – the little things really count! Other people came in with donations and Neil showed them around and showed them the work being done and how their donations are used. Thank you to the ladies who came with bags and also put money in the donation tin. There are very generous people coming on holiday to Symi.
Two of the volunteer doctors, and their little one
Panos, from Thea Apartments (http://www.symi-thea.gr/index.php/en/ Neil did their photos a few years back) came with two of his guests to bring donations including lots of bags that will be very useful; thank you Cindy and Clive. Later, fabulous lady from Penzance went and bought some colouring books and crayons for children, Neil delivered some to the refugees at the port police and the kids loved them, and I expect the parents liked the fact they were then occupied for a while, and the volunteer doctor went and did his visit. (Diabetic lady’s life was saved thanks to a medical kit bought with donations made to Solidarity Symi.)
Village boys playing in the square
So, it was a quiet day for us, but a useful one taking donations and sorting them and afterwards we treated ourselves to lunch at Meraklis and did eventually get home for an evening of films, ‘Camp’ and ‘Into The Woods’ seem a far cry from giving out nappies and biscuits, but that’s kind of how Saturdays are going around here. Now then, I am off to Rhodes tonight to collect mother who arrives on Tuesday, so I’m going to get a couple of blog posts ready in advance and post them up for while I am away. Check in tomorrow for more of my personal opinion, if you can bear it.
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