On the Greek island of Chios, Toula Kitromilidi, a local
hotelier, heard cries of children on a nearby beach. A boatload
of refugees had landed outside her home. She gave them shelter, clothes, food, & water. She continues this work today leading the Chios Eastern Shore Response Team (CESRT), a local group of international volunteers, under the umbrella of the NGO, Offene Arme e.V.
Meeting Boat Landings
This first response to boat landings is critical; providing emergency assistance, food, water & dry clothes. In conjunction with the Port Police, Coast Guard, & local authorities in Chios, OA/CESRT have maintained a 24/7 response to every landing on the island since Dec 2015.
Warehouse & Distributions
This is the heart & hub of the team, where activities include:
- Receiving & sorting donated supplies for landings, distributions, & CESRT programs (eg regular games sessions for the children of the camp)
- Base for planning daily schedules, organising projects, providing training
- Emergency supplies for the camp—clothes, non food items & even tents & infrastructure.
- Supplies including food, clothing hygiene kits & other basic necessities for Apartments where vulnerable asylum seekers are housed, & for the Women’s Centre.
- Hosting a free clothes shop for local Greek people in need.
Language Centre & Garden
Provides a welcoming peaceful learning base for students away from the overcrowded stark camp. It facilitates language acquisition, cultural exchange, a sense of connection & purpose, & sharing talents/interests. Provides legal advice sessions & counseling when possible. The centre has a beautiful garden, providing a space of solace, connection with the earth, & freedom to dig the soil for vegetables or flowers.
This last few months, the island of Chios has seen record numbers of asylum seekers landing from countries including Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, & African countries. On the flimsy rubber boats are families with babies, toddlers & teenagers, grandparents, & single young people. They seek a more peaceful life for themselves & their loved ones, & a chance to finish their education, or to share their talents & skills. They are detained on Chios Island for up to a year or more, in very harsh camp conditions. Some 5700 asylum seekers are currently resident in a camp designed for 1100 people. OA/CESRT is there to Share their Journey with your help. Thank you.