In such an unpredictable situation as the coronavirus pandemic, it has been challenging to help people forced to flee. To prevent the virus from spreading, we temporarily stopped most of our usual activities, stayed away from the camps and put all recruitment of volunteer field workers on hold. However, it is now, more than ever before, that people forced to flee need our support. Thus, a small team from A Drop in the Ocean has remained in Greece during the whole period of time.
In this difficult time, with the fear of COVID-19 spreading to the refugee camps, we have experienced an enormous response from supporters, both in Norway and the rest of the world. Many have contributed with fundraising through online streamed concerts and other events. There have been creative initiatives for donations such as designing t-shirts, training activities, drive-in church services, art auctions, yoga classes and many more.
I believe people get involved because they want to show solidarity in a time where the most vulnerable will be hardest hit by the pandemic that affects us all.Trude Jacobsen, Secretary General A Drop in the Ocean
She is impressed by the creativity and the amount of people showing their solidarity.
Thanks to this enormous support, we have been able to step up necessary distributions and initiate other activities for people living in the Greek refugee camps.
This is part of what we have done in the field:
Distributions of medical supplies
With up to 900,000 Norwegian Kroner (NOK), we have bought medical supplies such as face masks, gloves and 200 liters of hand sanitizer. We bought the equipment from local pharmacies to be sure that it is of good quality. Up to 27,000 face masks have been distributed to medical actors such as Kitrinos, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Boat Refugee Foundation (BRF) in Moria and the refugee camp Kara Tepe, to the police working in Moria Camp, to vulnerable people in settlements outside of camp and to the local hospital in Mytilini, the capital of Lesvos.
We have also distributed medical supplies in the refugee camp on Samos and in the camps where we work on the mainland.
Distributing food and necessary items
In Nea Kavala and Skaramagas, we have continued with our usual food and diapers distributions. We have distributed food packs with fruit, vegetables, and eggs. This has been possible thanks to our resident volunteers. Now we have placed an order of socks and underwear for our next distribution.
For Ramadan, we bought food for over 170,000 NOK, thanks to support from Wilstar AS, which we distributed to the residents of Skaramagas and Nea Kavala. Each pack contained food that was difficult for them to source such as dates, spices, rice, lentils and yoghurt.
We also delivered 2,000 bed sheets to Moria camp.
Online Drop Centre and digital non-formal education
Usually we have both non-formal education and recreational activities at our Drop Centres. Unfortunately, we had to temporarily close these centres, although the need for meaningful activities was still present. Our former field workers in Skaramagas thus initiated an online English course, so that our English students could continue to follow their courses. This was very well received!
Former field workers have also made a group on Facebook, where field workers and refugees can communicate and exchange thoughts on what they can do in this difficult time. Here people discuss everything from online gaming to how to make a toy car out of a plastic can.
Our Sunflower Project
Our field workers and coordinators initiated a campaign where children and adults can show their solidarity to children forced to flee by making a creative sunflower and writing a message of hope. You can also buy activity packs for children living in Skaramagas refugee camp.
Infection Control Measures
Now, we look forward to re-opening our activities again. To be prepared, we have bought 10,000 face masks for our activities in Nea Kavala and Skaramagas. We have also developed infection control measures, in line with the Greek Government’s guidelines. Already in the coming weekend, we plan to re-open our activities for unaccompanied minors in Moria.
Thank you to everyone supporting our work. All this is only possible because of you, says Jacobsen.