DAY 7 – DAY 13: BIG LANDING AND A NEW TASK
The Sunday and therefore our first free day here on the island, we spent in the area Chios city, because we had registered for the “on call” teams and thus could be called at any time to a landing. In the afternoon we drove together with another volunteer to a bay,about 20 minutes away to have a swim, and on the way back we stopped in the small village of Pyrgi. Pyrgi is a very nice old town, which has its own charm and since we had to pass it directly, we couldn’t resist having some ice cream. All in all, it was a very relaxing Sunday. At the end of our three-week stay in Chios we will give you a small impression of the island in its own blogentry and report in detail about our three free Sundays.
The work week was shaped by three events in particular. On Tuesday we were once again registered for the “On Call” team and were unexpectedly alerted in the morning at 9:40 for a landing. A French ship of the FRONTEX had picked up a small boat with 67 persons between Samos and Chios and was on the way to the port of Chios. The team of 8 people on duty together with us hurried to the arrival of the FRONTEX ship and made all the necessary preparations to be able to provide the refugees with the best possible after their arrival. Although we had to wait for the ship with the refugees for 1.5 hours, because the journey was extremely long, fortunately the arrival of the refugees turned out to be very lucky and they survived the crossing unscathed except for a few wet feet. The distribution of the clothes and food went smoothly and the 35 children quickly created a good mood with their bright behavior. Among them were a 27-day-old and another 3-month-old baby. Due to the high number of new arrivals, the bus, which brings the refugees to the camp for registration, had to drive back and forth three times. Since a return trip takes more than an hour in total, the bus driver decided to take his lunch break after two trips. We were also informed that the remaining refugees would not receive food until the next day due to their later arrival at the camp. This brought us to the decision to get three giant pizzas for the remaining newcomers, on behalf of Travel for Smiles, so our guests would not have to go to bed hungry. This donation will be reported in more detail in the blog “MORE SMILES FOR CHIOS“. After the lunch break, the bus was more than reliable even 15 minutes ahead of time, so finally everyone was able to register at the camp and we could start restocking the camp to the desired amount of food and clothes. The landing with preparation and follow-up lasted a full 8 hours, which meant that after the refill of the inventory, we called it a night. Of course, we stayed on call till 8:30 am until the next morning. Fortunately, the rest of the 24h shift was calm and uneventful.
A very important decision was made on Wednesday afternoon when we teamed up with Toula to decide whether to design and populate the new CESRT website. Since we are currently enough volunteers to keep all the projects going and it seemed clear how important a good and up-to-date website is, we soon agreed that the old one had to be brought up to speed. In order to put the plan into action as quickly as possible, we drove to the Language Center on Thursday after the morning meeting, because there you have access to the Internet. Luca spent the entire morning finding a suitable layout and I tried to gather the first important information to fill the page. The day was extremely successful, so in the evening the structure of the website was finished and we knew who to talk with about each topic. The Friday turned out to be a big surprise for us, which ended up keeping us busy on Saturday, so we can only continue working on the website on Monday and have to be quick to be done in time for our departure.
The surprise that came to us on Friday was a long-awaited response to our request to make the path in front of the football pitch at the camp finally accessible. This path connects part of the outer camp area with the main road, passing the sports field we use for our vial games. Since a few months ago, up the slope a pipe broke and this damage was corrected only a few days ago, the path was like a really disgusting wetland for almost a year. It stank cruelly of human fecal matter and the children were exposed to a massive threat that could cause a nasty disease. We fought for three weeks to remove the contaminated sludge and fill the area with gravel. The resulting costs should be borne by our association. Since we had finally received the approval for our project on Friday from the camp administration, we set off together with two other volunteers to get the material and the necessary tools. One of the accompanying volunteers was a Greek who grew up here, which meant that we had all errands done by noon and were
able to start implementing them in the afternoon. The campers were enthusiastic about our work, beaming with joy and thanking us wholeheartedly. This is exactly what we try to achieve with Travel for Smiles through our donations. On Saturday we were able to complete our project and could not have been more proud of the results. Thanks to your financial support, we were able to make a really positive contribution to the already long-suffering camp residents as well as to all the other participants!
More about this project can be found in the post “NUMEROUS BEAMING FACES“.
When we got together with a large part of the volunteers on Saturday evening for a huge and extremely delicious barbecue, we could all toast to a very eventful and successful week. Hopefully the next week will bring some more unexpected surprises and we can continue to put a smile on people’s faces with your help.