Our two containers are making their way to Chios as I write this. 1796 boxes of aid containing an estimated 59,033 items will arrive week beginning 18/01/2015.
We have two volunteers there and two on their way. Here is an excerpt from their blog:
Boats coming in 15/01/2015
While those already on shif dealt with boats coming in, we got a call at 10.30am to go to Kioski where the pirate twins are based with three young women and an Egyptian, who speaks Arabic, in their volunteer crew. The young women are permanently in wetsuits ready to go into the water if need be. The boat was taking in water with about forty people on board including very young children. They were heading to the harbour but the Chios crew shouted to come in to the nearest bit of shore as they were worried the boat would capsize. The boat appeared to be coming close to rocks and the young women went into the water, followed by the pirates, to make sure everyone stayed in the boat and stayed calm while they tried to bring it to the safer piece of shore.
Some people started jumping out of the boat which makes it very vulnerable to capsize but most stayed in until they were close enough to only have to wade in the water. Although it was daylight and fairly warm, people were cold, wet and some were quite shaken by their ordeal. We never know how long they have been hiding before getting on the boats, possibly sleeping outside and without food and water. They may be in poor condition before they get on the boat.
On arrival many had wrapped plastic, like refuse bags, tightly around their legs to stay dry; some children had four layers of clothing on – all soaking. We got dry clothes for the young children first aged from 3 years and up. Then Andy dealt with men whilst Frances dealt with women. The Greek women took them to a place to change out of wet clothes. Our tiny car was like an exploded washing machine when we had finished.
We had chocolate croissants – they need the energy – and bottles of water. We got some hugs, offers of cigarettes and then they went down the road to get a bus that will take them to registration camp where they can get hot food from Ifty’s People’s Street Kitchen and more dry clothing.
We picked up the litter, discarded socks just have to be binned but we take any other wet clothes left behind to wash and use again. The fake life jackets and rubber rings get piled up beside the road and at some point will be collected by refuse collection. I didn’t see what happened to the boat – the shore is littered with burst dinghies.
Now we have restocked the car and are back on shift at 4pm. It’s getting very windy and will soon rain so we can only hope no boats are out there now.
Since writing this we have heard that Spanish coastguards who assist the boats in to shore, have been arrested, despite the fact they they are there legally and have been saving people for months.
Follow Andy and Fran’s blog here:
Ifty Patel is out in Chios, he works in ‘The People’s Street Kitchen’ there. Here is his latest news:
CHIOS….Greece….Hi all…just a little snapshot….lentil, potato pasta and butternut soup with bread…food distribution at one of the camps….Wonderful volunteers cutting lots of fresh veg, the registration centre this morning at 7:30am….470 people spent the night there….so just a little bit of what we are up to….I love you all.I have wonderful volunteers….and most of all its a great feeling watching people enjoy our food…x
Photos courtesy of Ifty Patel.