Views from the Ground: Oinofyta Camp
By Norman Hering
This is the third article from our “Views from the Ground” series. Campfire Innovation is based in Greece and often visits projects, camps and key locations to identify the challenges faced by volunteers and refugees and the best smart solutions deployed. This is a is a collection of stories based on the places we visit and the people we meet that inspire us.
This week, Norman’s story highlights how COLLABORATIVE the work of grassroots and volunteer teams actually is as well as giving a little insight into the Oinofyta camp.
It’s amazing how one unaccompanied minor can initiate a whole team of people to come together for his benefit.
A CALL TO ACTION
My friend and fellow volunteer Rando Wagner found a 16 year-old Pakistani boy sleeping rough in Omonia Square this past week. Since Rando had to leave to go back to work, he put a call out for help to get the boy accommodation.
A mutual friend, Lisa Campbell, who runs DoYourPart.org, a U.S. based NGO, at Oinofyta camp outside Athens, told him there was room there. Rando convinced the boy to move to the camp and Peggy Whitfield, of RefuComm, took over making the arrangements. She met with the new UNHCR urban team and got their okay to place him there even though he’s never been registered.
The boy has been in Athens for a year working collecting cardboard for 5 euros a day for a roof over his head. He was also working at a cleaning job. Both jobs amounted to little more than indentured servitude. About 10 days ago he lost his job and was put out on the street with only the clothes on his back. This is how Rando found him.
ON OUR WAY TO OINFYTA
On Saturday I saw a Facebook post from Peggy asking for transportation to the camp. I contacted Peggy since I have a car and we made arrangements.I met Peggy, the UNHCR urban team — friends from Skaramangas — another volunteer, Iram Nazir, a British woman who speaks Urdu and the minor.When we arrived at the camp, we were greeted by a volunteer from DoYourPart and welcomed in.
The camp has a nice feeling about it. One tent has beautiful flowers growing People approached to welcome us and their new resident. There was a male Urdu speaker who greeted us and welcomed the minor. We took care of some immediate paperwork before being given a tour, showing him his new room with other Pakistani youth and getting him some clothes.
During this past year, in-kind donations for refugees have flooded into Greece. It’s heartwarming but also a real challenge to manage the logistics and organising of such large quatities. Here is a look inside the Oinofyta stock rooms where everything is sorted and organised.
All in all, it was a very successful day. In this refugee crisis the problems are so big and overwhelming, it’s hard to remember that something as seemingly small as getting a minor shelter, is a very positive and important step in taking care of the most vulnerable: our children and youth!