Hi there and thanks for your interest: I first traveled to Samos two years ago, to work with Samos Volunteers, who support refugees stranded on the island, that lies very close to Turkey. Back then there were around 1,200 refugees in a camp with a capacity for 700 people, and the camp was really dirty and overcrowded.
I arrived back in Samos just a few days ago. Now there are more than 4,700 refugees in the refugee camp.
It is so overcrowded families are sleeping outside the camp, in tents, under the trees. They have no running water, toilets or electricity, and no-one is collecting the rubbish so rats are inside the tents, and snakes on the ground. The rain has been lashing down today: the refugees have nowhere to go to escape the cold and wet, except a local resource centre established by Samos Volunteers.
The centre, called Alpha, is just a few hundred metres from the refugee camp. It's run by the volunteers along with a team from the refugee camp. There are daily language classes, hot drinks: above all this is a place where every refugee is welcome and has a warm place to sit. Samos Volunteers also run a laundry service, the only such service refugees can use free of charge. Having clean clothes means a hell of a lot to people who've lost everything, but there is so much demand for laundry, people can get their clothes washed only about once every two months now. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reports an average of 136 refugees arriving on Samos every day.
At the camp, refugees are queuing three to four hours for their meals: on certain days, the camp has run completely out of food. People have turned up at the Alpha Centre saying they haven't eaten anything for several days. Your donation of £10 will pay for teabags at the centre: £20 will heat the centre for half a day, and £30 will pay for two days' electricity: £50 will pay for a week of washing powder that means hundreds of refugees can have clean, fresh clothes as winter kicks in. Please let me be clear: this fundraiser is not for my own expenses: Samos Volunteers pay all their own expenses, including travel and accommodation: every penny raised will do directly to this work which I support with all my heart. The refugees, all people like us but stranded throughout the Greek islands, have dropped off the news agenda, but they have no-where else to go.
For more details, please see the volunteers' website: https://samosvolunteers.org. You can also find a recent report from UNHCR on conditions on Samos here: https://bit.ly/2Qf2g8X
Together we have raised more than £1,200 - Thank You! There's just a week to go to get to the finish line of two thousand. If you can donate towards this work supporting people to live with dignity, thank you so much :)