Help Equip UNHCR Stage 2 on Lesvos
My name is Gabrielle Fitzpatrick, I'm from Chicago and I am currently working with Refugee Rescue, the last remaining search & rescue mission on the northern coast of Lesvos. I am raising funds to buy new shelving and plastic storage bins for the Stage 2 transit camp on Lesvos, and the remaining funds from this campaign will be donated to Refugee Rescue's "£10k in One Day" fundraiser on Wednesday, June 20th for World Refugee Day.
On Saturday, June 9th, around midnight, I received a call from Refugee Rescue's field coordinator informing me that a dinghy of thirty-three men, women and children seeking refuge arrived to the North Shore of the Island of Lesvos. After meeting at Lighthouse Relief Headquarters, we set out to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Stage 2 transit camp and began to prep for their arrival. As the first family came in–wet, shivering, and in a state of shock, we led each of them to the tent where they would stay for the next couple of hours until their transfer. Within an hour of the first dinghy’s arrival, our team received notice that there had been a second dinghy of forty people. The unrivaled efficiency and steadfastness of the team at Lighthouse Relief and Refugee Rescue made the last-minute accommodation every individual possible, despite the fact that within minutes we were tasked with preparing for more than double the arrivals expected.
This is a routine occurrence on the Isle of Lesvos–and, in light of current Greco-Turkish relations, we can expect an increase in the coming summer months. The volume of arrivals can range from twenty to two-hundred and fifty. The amount of time that we have to distribute can be as little as ten minutes. From the moment of arrival to the UNHCR Stage 2 transit camp, time is absolutely everything. That time span, and more importantly how it is managed, makes the difference between supplying children and pregnant women with dry clothing, and sending them on a bus shivering and damp. It determines whether young women can be given pads, or if they will have to risk infection using makeshift absorbents. Whether they will eat for the first time in hours, maybe days, or board the bus hungry.
What I am asking of you all is simple, but will make an enormous difference for countless desperate people. The distribution tents in the UNHCR Stage 2 transit camp are in dire need of industrial shelving, and transparent plastic storage containers. As the aggregation and distribution of funds for UNHCR, Lighthouse Relief, and Refugee Rescue have their own spending priorities, I have made it my personal endeavor to find this funding–hopefully, with your help. The NGO’s working at this transit camp are constantly organizing, prepping, and restocking the facility to optimize our services, but as long as the Stage 2 facilities are ill-equipped, we will fall short of our potential. With the lack of proper shelving and containers, there is often a scramble to find necessities such as baby formula and sanitary napkins. Finding the correct size shoes and clothing for every individual takes time that we often don’t have.
Funds that are not used for shelving and plastic storage bins will be used to supply shoes and clothing, which are always sorely needed here.
This is my first crowd funding project, and it is something that I care about deeply. I don’t know how to describe what these arrivals look like. I could not even get near capturing the weight these scenes put on one’s soul. I am asking all of you to donate whatever you can–there is no small amount. If you can’t donate, please be so kind as to share this post. I know that there are so many causes to put your money to these days, all noble and good in their own way. I know that shelving and containers may seem arbitrary. But they will make a world of difference for thousands of souls making this dire journey, yearning to breathe free.
(photo by Megan Trace)