Daphne & Sophia Atlantic Pacific

Dear all,

As many of you know, my sister Daphne and I have been volunteering with refugees since January 2016. A lot of this work has been possible exclusively due to the financial help we have received from friends and acquaintances who felt like supporting us in these causes. To give a small overview of what we have done and are doing:

We started on Leros, an island near Patmos, where we joined a small team of volunteers, helping hand out food and clothes to the newly arrived, making hot milk for the infants in the camp, answering questions and generally assisting in any way possible. Next, I went to Idomeni, a small village at the border of Greece with FYROM, hosting the biggest refugee camp on European soil since WWII, to volunteer with a kitchen team; cooking more than 12,000 meals per day at our peak. I stayed there three months, and Daphne joined me in the last few weeks. At the same time, and still today, besides her busy university studies, Daphne has been volunteering with the Dutch Refugee Council (VluchtelingenWerk Nederland) providing legal assistance and support to asylum seekers in the Netherlands. She works in the AMV-team, the only one in The Netherlands with expertise specifically in family reunifications of unaccompanied minor refugees. In the meantime, after Idomeni, I went to Lebanon for three months, where I volunteered with an NGO, focusing on the aid distributions to the many refugee settlements in the area of the Beqaa valley. Finally I went to Thessaloniki, Greece, for about two months, helping with the Mobile Info Team, which provides legal aid to asylum seekers stuck in Greece.

Now, seven months later, I am back in the Hague for a rest, and to see my old dog Lilly, but will soon move on again.

This time, Daphne and I are going to Wales, where we were chosen, together with 40 others, out of a difficult and competitive selection, to do the Rescue Missions training of the Atlantic Pacific Summer School. The training consists of three different courses, listed below, with the certificate of which we will be able to volunteer with the Atlantic Pacific International Rescue Boat Project, which currently operates lifeboats run by volunteers in northern Japan, the coast of Libya, and Greece. (For more information or donations straight to the organisation, see: http://www.atlanticpacific.org.uk/ )

The three courses we will follow are:

1. Atlantic Pacific Crew Member: Beginner (17th-23rd June, 2017)

2. RYA Powerboat Level 2 (24th-25th June, 2017)

3. Atlantic Pacific Crew Member: Advanced (26th June-2nd July, 2017)

As you might have guessed, these courses are not free. Despite being at a very competitive price compared to similar trainings the world over, they are actually completely out of my budget but Daphne is temporarily covering my course fees with her student loan, which I will have to eventually get back to her and she will have to get back to the bank. This is why once again, we are asking for help. The first and third course cost each 250 pounds, while the second course costs 150. This comes down to 650 pounds, which is 745 euros (so 1,490 euros for both), plus we calculated around 50 euros for transportation.

Seen as we learned swimming at about the same time we learned to walk, and having grown up next to the sea we love so much, but which has swallowed the lives of thousands, we feel the responsibility to do what we can about this; after having been granted the possibility to participate in the training of Atlantic Pacific, we both feel determined to spend a part of our time in the near future joining the international rescue crew on far away – or as close to home as it can get – waters. We understand it will not be easy work; but until now we have dealt with shocked, drenched people who just got off the water; people fighting desperation and slow degradation; people stuck in a valley with no future prospects. After our experiences so far, we have been inspired by the strength and positivity of humanity to persist in the most dire of places and times. We do not want the sea, next to which our father lies resting, to be a place of pain and loss, when it can be a source of life and beauty. Please help us realise this with your - tiny or larger – donation.


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Sophia Gambieraki Vermolen 
The Hague, Zuid-Holland
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