How To Help Refugees On Your Greek Holiday

A father teaches his son how to cycle on a flat-tire bike in Eleonas Refugee Camp | © Camille Gazeau
A father teaches his son how to cycle on a flat-tire bike in Eleonas Refugee Camp | © Camille Gazeau
The humanitarian crisis has hit Greece hard in the past years, but despite this tremendous challenge and the utter lack of – or delayed – response from authorities, locals and humanitarian NGOs have stepped in to offer food, clothing and housing to refugees, often aided by volunteers from home home and abroad. Following the EU-Turkey deal struck in March 2016, the situation on Lesvos, Mytilini and the nearby islands has ceased to escalate and fewer boats are arriving, with refugees taken directly to centers to start the registration process. Despite this progress, help is still needed. Here are a few ways you can pitch in should you find yourself traveling to Greece soon.

Refugee Education Chios

This volunteer-led initiative was set up earlier this year with the mission of providing child refugees with a structured curriculum to develop English language skills in school. The center is looking for long-term volunteers with a professional background in teaching English as a second language. The challenge is immense but rewarding so if you are interested, please contact them by sending a private message on their Facebook page.

Refugee Camp in Idomeni, near the borders with the Republic of Macedonia © Camille Gazeau

Immigrant and Refugee Support Group in Athens

This Facebook page has been set up to provide updates and information about the situation for refugees and immigrants in Athens and to help people interested in volunteering or making a donation. Information is updated once a week so do not hesitate to check back regularly.

Together for Better Days

This self-funded NGO mainly focuses on Thessaloniki and the surrounding area through the project Elpida (Hope), and is actively looking for volunteers for different positions. Missions can be a duration of one month (with accommodation provided) or longer. Make sure to check the information page. The website also features a list including updated requests.

Information Point for Lesvos Volunteers

This Facebook group was set up to provide all the information needed for anyone willing to volunteer in Lesvos. You can find tips and updated info about the current situation as well as some guidelines and things to know before setting out for the island.

Fighting for Bread © Camille Gazeau

We Are All Refugees

This association of Christian churches set up an Alliance Relief Care Center where they offer food, internet access, child care, laundry facilities, showers, and English and Greek lessons for refugees. Volunteers are more than welcome though a minimum stay of two weeks is recommended.

Starfish Foundation – Help for refugees in Molyvos

This NGO is located in Lesvos. Though it was first set up to help and welcome refugees, it has now expanded its focus to local communities. If you are interested in helping, check the website and contact their office, but don’t miss a chance to visit the island as well.

Chios Eastern Shore Response Team – CESRT

CESRT is a locally organized team of international volunteers aiming to provide both immediate and long term support for refugees on Chios. Working closely with other collaborators on different levels, the CESRT is always open to volunteers to aid in providing support for unaccompanied minors, beach cleaning projects, responding to the needs of refugees through distributions of necessary items and much more. If you want to help, post a message on the Facebook page or send a private message.

Lighthouse Relief

This NGO is operating with qualified volunteers from all over the world to provide relief to refugees blocked in Katsikas camp and Ritsona camp in mainland Greece. Though the arrival of refugees has significantly dropped since May, they are still present to give emergency relief on Lesvos, whilst also supporting the locals in restoring their beautiful island through the ECO Relief clean-up project. Both short-term (less than three weeks) and long-term volunteer sessions are possible. Check the website for more information.

Hope © Camille Gazeau