**Although Sr Lena Deevy is listed as a 'beneficiary' for this fundraiser, please be assured that all money goes directly to Offene Arme/Engage (formerly CESRT). 

Reflections from Sister Lena Deevy after her visit to Chios March 2020

Huge numbers of asylum seekers have arrived from Turkey to the Greek islands in the last months. Thousands of people are now crowded into already overburdened camps. On Chios, Vial camp is so overcrowded that many asylum seekers have to live in makeshift structures in the nearby fields. When helping to do a clean up in the camp with the CESRT team in February, I was so saddened and horrified to see the conditions that these people seeking refuge are being forced to exist in. 

All of this is now exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic. This is a challenging time for all of us, but particularly so for the most vulnerable – and refugees and asylum seekers are indeed among the most vulnerable. Camps don’t even have running water, so handwashing is impossible. The idea of social distancing is a farce due to overcrowding, and access to appropriate healthcare is, sadly, a fantasy. It is frightening to think of the scale of chaos and tragedy that could be wrought by the virus. 

This, and the recent attacks on NGOs by far right groups and individuals has seriously restricted the operations of NGOs such as CESRT. They continue to do everything possible to get aid to new arrivals, to offer vital hygiene supplies to the camp, and the language centre has begun a programme of digital classes to keep hope and contact alive for the students.

COVID-19 does not stop at borders, and neither should human rights. As a result of the Dublin Agreement (2016), asylum seekers arriving in Europe via Greece (as do the majority due to its geographical location) must claim asylum in Greece. This is totally unsustainable for Greece, and has led to tens of thousands of asylum seekers detained on the islands and mainland in intolerable conditions with no prospect of employment or means of integrating into or contributing to European society. Europe has a shared responsibility to protect the rights of the asylum seekers, and to find a more humane and sustainable solution to this issue.  People will continue to flee as long as their countries continue to be hugely impacted by wars, or by our global failure to act on climate change. 

Times like this with the global pandemic highlight the need for us to support one another. At this moment of collective action and we will be judged as a society by our actions towards the most vulnerable. We must act with compassion, inviting our brothers and sisters to obtain refuge in other EU countries, as well as supporting NGOs working in the Greek islands. 


6,000 people in a camp designed for just over 1,000. They have fled their homes in search of safety and endured unimaginable journeys. 

Thousands of children, babies, families and individuals in appalling camp conditions. Thousands more trying to survive in the hell of the 'jungle' outside the camp. Thunderstorms have washed away tents and ruined makeshift shelters.

No safety.
No toilets.
No running water.
No facilities.
No accommodation.
No dignity.
The winter is cold.
Hope fades.

You can help. Please give what you can to help CESRT keep hope alive.

As a global family, we are on a journey together, and the plight of migrants and displaced people affects us all. Please share the journey with us and make a donation. There are so many pleas for donations at this time of year -  but you can be assured that your donation will go directly to people who desperately need it. 

Your can help CESRT to

·         meet boat landings with food, water, warm dry clothes and other emergency supplies

·         run the Language Centre, which provides tuition in English (and other European languages) to adult asylum seekers in a welcoming space. It also functions as a community centre and venue for art classes, legal advice workshops, music nights and more.

·         maintain the garden, a place of work, solace, community and escape from the misery of the camp.

Chios Eastern Shore Response Team (CESRT) is a self-funded, independent group of volunteers from all over the world. Founded in 2015 by Toula Kitromilidi, a local hotelier and mother, CESRT is now one of the last remaining groups providing vital aid and support to refugees arriving on Aegean shores.  For more information click here .

This fundraiser is organised by Sr Lena Deevy, LSA (with the help of Alice Duggan).  Sister Lena Deevy (LSA) has been committed to working with and for migrants and displaced people for over 25 years. In 1989, Sr. Lena and a group of Irish immigrants founded the Irish International Immigrant (IIIC) in Boston to meet the needs of a large Irish immigrant population in New England. Over the years, the organization has developed into a multi-service centre serving immigrants from Ireland and 120 other countries. Having retired from her role as Executive Director of the IIIC and returned to her native Ireland, Sr. Lena continues her work for this cause through her involvement in a number of grassroots organisations.

Donations (164)

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  • Catherine Phillips
    • €500 
    • 2 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • €100 
    • 2 yrs
  • Siobhan Foy
    • €250 
    • 2 yrs
  • Teresa Noone
    • €20 
    • 2 yrs
  • John Alexander
    • €30 
    • 2 yrs
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Organizer and beneficiary

Alice Duggan
Lena Deevy

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