Serving Refugees in Greece

Due to the conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan over the past two years, European countries have experienced a major influx of refugees and immigrants. An estimated one to two million people have passed through Greece and Italy, seeking asylum in Europe. During 2015–2016, about 6,000 refugees arrived at Greece’s borders monthly, to join about 50,000 people living in temporary camps at 45 locations around Greece’s mainland and islands. Notwithstanding their own domestic problems, the Greeks accepted the refugees with love and compassion. Since the summer of 2015, the SSIO has distributed food and essential items at several refugee camps across the country. For example, in Victoria Square at the centre of Athens, SSIO members provided six tents sheltering four to ten persons each, four sleeping bags, thirty pairs of shoes, about 15 kg of dry food, toiletries, knapsacks, forty miniature toy cars, and six kites for the children. The SSIO has also established a shelter for mothers and refugee girls, and two additional facilities for boys ages 13 and older. A paediatrician, assisted by volunteers, offers medical assistance at these shelters.

Since early April 2016, the SSIO of Greece has concentrated its efforts at a refugee camp in Piraeus Harbour known as Gate 7, where refugees are housed in tents.Sathya Sai volunteers regularly provide water, clothing, shoes, personal hygiene kits, and other items to the camp residents. A team of seven Sathya Sai youth along with two others visit the camp on weekends to help prepare about 2,000 meals daily. They also assist with multilingual interpretation and help unload trucks of food for storage in warehouses at the port. The SSIO of Greece has established a website to provide weekly updates. Sathya Sai volunteers collect shoes, blankets, and medicines regularly, for further distribution.

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