Responding to a humanitarian crisis in Europe

I am assuming you had a shower in the last 24 hours, that you put on clean clothes and had a good nights sleep in a comfortable bed with a roof over your head.  I also expect that you eat when you are hungry and that you are free to leave your country whenever you want to.  I would not assume this for anyone that I met in Samos whilst I was volunteering there.

Samos is a small Greek island, a mile from the Turkish coast. This makes it a favoured destination of people smugglers, who recklessly overfill plastic dinghies with men, women, and children desperate enough to take the risk.

The living conditions in the Samos camp are atrocious. According to the UNHCR, 6,000 people were living in the camp as of October 2019; within just a few months, that number has increased to more than 7,100 inhabitants in January 2020. 

What started out as a crisis in 2015 has turned into a long, unending story of suffering. And those responsible for caring for and protecting these people have largely failed to rise to the task. Some are in the camp for 2 years plus.

Sanitation and healthcare, especially mental health provision, is absolutely insufficient. Bedbugs and scabies are endemic. Only four toilets are reserved for the women who make up 22% of the camp’s population. Thousands of the world’s most vulnerable people, including nearly 2,000 children, have access to only one doctor, one psychologist, and the seriously overwhelmed local hospital.

Finding shelter is also a struggle. In the camp itself, people sleep in dangerously overfilled containers. Those forced to stay outside the official camp have next to no protection from the cold Samos rain. The high winds coming from the sea tear down flimsy tents and spread rubbish and waste. Rats, scorpions, and snakes infest the camp.

Samos Volunteers is one of a handful of NGOs present on the island. In the winter of 2016, as the Greek authorities assumed responsibility for the welfare of camp inhabitants, Samos Volunteers (SV) saw a new need. They moved away from the daily distribution of essential items, and began to offer informal educational activities and psycho social support. They aim to combat boredom, reduce isolation, and instill some sense of normality to the lives of those living in the camp.

Down the road from the camp, the Alpha Centre is the home of SV's language classes and recreational activities for adults. It’s a safe, dry, clean place for people to get away from the awful conditions up the hill, a place for stimulation or just a cup of tea and some interaction. Around the corner from the Alpha Centre, their laundry station is the only place people in the camp can get their clothes cleaned and dried. There are 12 washer/dryers which run 12 hours per day,  6 days a week to clean peoples clothes (it costs €800/month to run). With over 7,000 people in the camp, it means their laundry only gets done once every 3-4 months!

Samos Volunteers rely purely on donations to provide the amazing services that they do.  Not everyone is cut out for volunteering but you can make a significant difference by showing financial support to people, who are no different to you and me, but have fled from the most horrific situations only to find themselves in another humanitarian crises.  

100% of your donation will go directly to supporting and empowering SV's beneficiaries.  I would like to raise enough money to contribute to their laundry facilities (1 industrial washer/dryer costs €8k), educational equipment, colouring pencils, creative activities for their women's days and to help pay the bills to keep the lights on. I volunteered for a month in December and saw first hand the need but also experienced how well run Samos Volunteers is, using their resources so efficiently.  I will be going back to volunteer in April and will be able to report how the money is spent. Please please give generously to help support these people so in need. 

We stand for  human dignity. We stand with refugees. 

For more detailed info see Samos Volunteers

*if you are buying tickets for the Big Charity Quiz night on 21st March, please put that in the comments with your name, so I can can track.  Thank you so much and look forward to a fun night
  • Murray Farrant 
    • £100 
    • 20 mos
  • Caroline Russo 
    • £25 
    • 20 mos
  • Rita FELTHAM 
    • £20 
    • 20 mos
  • Annelies Scott 
    • £25 
    • 20 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • £20 
    • 20 mos
See all


Anna Wright 
Guildford, South East England, United Kingdom
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