Directly from Linda:
"I'm leaving for Greece on August 21 and returning on September 6. This will be my fifth trip to volunteer for Do Your Part. But I expect it to be quite different.
Last summer the Oinofyta camp was open, a community for about 400 refugees, most of them from Afghanistan with a few from Pakistan and Iran. The camp had a school, a computer lab, an exercise room, a women's space, a kitchen, even a soccer field. Do Your Part distributed food and sundries and multiple volunteer agencies provided other kinds of support.
The camp was closed by the government in November. The volunteer agencies were given four days to vacate. The residents were bused to apartments in Athens or to other camps.
In March, Oinofyta reopened. This time it was to house vulnerable refugees from the Greek islands. Now, four months later, the residents are mostly Kurds who have fled from the Syrian city of Afrin. There are few services at the camp now, and the volunteer organizations who worked so hard in 2016 and 2017 have not returned.
Do Your Part runs a community center about five miles away in the village of Dilesi. There is a tailor shop there that makes unique bags to sell, and a space for women to come for respite, and for kids to get a little education. Every Tuesday MobileDoc volunteers spend the day providing medical care for refugees. Every other week legal volunteers come to assist with asylum applications. A Do Your Part vehicle transports the people from the camp at Oinofyta to the community center at Dilesi. Last week the Hellenic Midwives Association came for the day to provide prenatal care. The volunteers are working outside the camp now, doing what can be done for the Kurds who were forced out of Afrin.
One of my friends, Lillian, contacted a doctor she knows. The doctor, Jean, wanted to talk to me. She has medical supplies and a contact in Seattle for more. I asked Lisa Campbell, Do Your Part's Executive Director and the project manager in Greece, what items would be on a wish list for the medical people currently volunteering at the community center. Lisa said:
Durable equipment: blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, otoscopes, pulse oximeters
Prenatal vitamins - have to be halal for Muslim women
Solar anything, especially phone chargers
The Hellenic Midwives Association is in need of a portable ultrasound machine
I will be meeting up with Jean next week to see what she and the Seattle contact can provide. I am keeping a mental eye on the size of my extra suitcase. Jean also suggested I contact Philips, which has a facility near where I live, to see if they'd be willing to donate a portable ultrasound machine.
Then I posted this Facebook message:
Another request for my upcoming trip to Greece. There is a volunteer group of Greek midwives working with Do Your Part at the community center. They need a portable ultrasound machine. Does anyone know anyone who works at Philips who might have a name I could contact to request a donation?
Most unexpectedly, this morning I heard from a member of my spiritual congregation, who asked me how much the ultrasound machine would cost. I found one on eBay and told him the price. Then he wrote - and this is probably one of the great honors of my life - "Linda - imagine we could easily raise that amount based on the strength of your reputation and commitment to these people."
That may happen, or it may not, but I will remember my friend's words for the rest of my life.
So, my extra suitcase will hold medical supplies this time. And two bags of McD coffee for my friend Lisa. And whatever other surprises may come along.
I had been a bit nervous about this next trip because the circumstances in Greece are different from when I was there last, and because this time I am going alone. But the hearts I am taking along with me in the form of their gifts have pretty much dissolved my unease.
We are all in this together! Thank you, thank you, thank you."
My name is Craig Cyr and I am the one Linda refers to who suggested her community on Facebook could raise the necessary $1000. Linda and I know each from our membership in our congregation.
I am just off the phone with Linda where I was able to get more background from her. The need in Greece is acute. I suggested to her that perhaps our goal should be to raise money for two ultrasound machines - meaning $2000. And then upon further discussion with her, and the words she wrote above, it is clear that the need is much greater than two ultrasound machines. So I have set the goal at $5,000.
The first $2,000 will go to buying two portable ultrasound machines. Any extra money will go directly towards purchasing needed supplies for the Oinofyta camp. The supplies will be purchased locally in Greece, thereby giving a boost to the local economy. At this time, those supplies will probably be fresh produce for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Your donations will be withdrawn by me into my credit union account. I will then write a personal check to Linda for her to deposit into her personal account. Linda will make the purchase of the ultrasound machine and any necessary purchase while she is at the refugee camp.
There are times in our lives when it is time to act. And in this case, donate. Rest assured that your donation will make a difference and if you are connected to Linda on Facebook, you will see the pictures that will be posted of the supplies purchase with your donations.
Thanks very much.