One of my biggest concerns when we started looking at this world trip was making sure we had a safe and comfortable place to live everywhere we stayed. I was so concerned about this basic life need that we bought sleeping pads, down blankets and travel pillows so if we got stuck in a bus terminal or an airport we could pull out our down blankets and lay down on a comfortable mat to get some sleep and feel a bit of security that comes with a comfortable bed. Luckily we have Airbnb and other such sites to find housing before we arrive which has greatly reduced my stress.
On our first Sunday here in Greece we found out that not everyone here in Greece is so comfortable. A group of about 15 people showed up at church that Sunday with lots of luggage and a story of their week here in Greece helping in the refugee camps. They’d brought clothes, toys, and even brought a magician along that had a stuffed teddy bear making system. Can you think of anything better for a little person living in a refugee camp then a magician that also makes you a teddy bear?! They were about halfway through their time here, many having given up their precious vacation time from work to come and help for a couple weeks.
The Greece refugee problem
After hearing all the stories they’d collected over the previous week, DeNae started looking into it more as a way we could help. It’s a real challenge for both the refugees and for the Greeks. In the past 2 years over 1.5 million refugees have travel to and through Greece.
- For more details on refugees in Greece see IRC’s Greece country page.
- To understand a little better what’s driving the current refugee problem check out Washington Post’s article “8 reasons Europe’s refugee crisis is happening now”
One of those conversations was with an older couple that are living here in Greece for 18 months as service missionaries for our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons. Most people are familiar with the iconic white shirts, ties and black name tags of the young men who serve proselyting missions for the Mormon church and many would also recognize the beautiful young women in their dresses and same black name tags, but most probably don’t know that there’s a lot of retired couples out serving missions too. Some serve proselyting missions like the young men and women do, but many are out doing service missions. In this case, Elder and Sister Willmott are here in Greece on a service mission focused on helping the refugee problem in the country. They represent the church and it’s resources and look for the best ways to make those resources available to those that really need them.
As DeNae spoke with Sister Willmott about what the needs were, she found a couple specific and immediate needs that we felt that we (and you) could help with. Both of these needs center around providing a brighter summer for the children of a couple different camps.
Need #1: Samos camp has one of it’s focuses on helping unaccompanied children. The specific need we’re helping with is for part of the camp that has just boys. And it’s a super simple need…sports. They need to be able to play games and sports to fill that boyish drive for competition and movement. We’re looking to buy a variety of items like basketball hoops and balls, foosball tables, soccer balls, etc. For this need, we’re hoping to raise $3000 USD.
Need #2: The other need will support a plan that Lighthouse Relief has for around 130 children in Ritsona camp to provide a summer program. For the most part, these children live in the camp and don’t leave. While Greece has some of the most amazing summers, children need something to occupy their time. This chart below includes the weekly schedule for the summer program.
For full cost and program details see the following pdf file: Program.pdf. This is a new plan and they still need the full amount of funding to make the summer camp happen. We’re planning on raising $12,000.
Summer is here and we have just under two weeks left here in Greece, so we’d like to get the money raised in the next 10 days (by June 10th).
The Goal: get 1500 people to donate $10 in 10 days to earn the $15,000. Donating is simple, just click here.
Once the full amount is raised, we’ll give the money directly to the service missionaries who will help get the games/sports equipment for the boys camp and provide the money to Lighthouse to get their summer program kicked off. After the credit card processing fees (30 cents per transaction and 3%), 100% of the money raised will go directly to these two needs.
Push-up count off
In order to have a little fun with this, our family will be doing a push-up (saying the name of the donor) for each donation…we’ll record them all and post them online in one long push-up video. For those of you that don’t know us, push-ups are an integral part of our family…get in trouble for something – do pushups, want to watch another cartoon – do pushups, dad walks into the room – randomly get assigned some pushups. Needless to say, our girls have done well in gym class over the years and I think Rachel still holds the school record at Evergreen Middle School with 86. So for this effort, pushups seemed like fun way to count off the 1500 donors…so spread the word, help the refugees and build some muscles!