The negative impact of this crisis continues to be counted daily in human lives and translated into pause, loneliness, people without any social or economic protection network. Fear usually overwhelms us and overshadows everything positive. It becomes clear to us every day what separates us: 2 meters distance, a face mask and a pair of gloves. But have we ever wondered what has united us so far?
People living in refugee sites at various parts of Greece have shown us first hand, and already from the beginning of this crisis, what can unite us during this critical period – when access to basic services is often impossible and protection mechanisms cannot respond as before.
I would like to share with you the stories of people who have shrunk the world, and created bridges of solidarity, against the norms. The refugee community, in one of the refugee sites in Northern Greece, responded immediately by supporting three young children, who were left alone when their mother had to be transferred to the hospital. The women of the community cooked for the children while other took care of them in shifts, to make sure they were safe. They supported these children as if they were members of their own family.
At the same time, members of another refugee community at Vagiochori refugee site undertook the “weekly shopping” for the elderly inhabitants but also for people with mobility difficulties. So, they walked for miles carrying double weight, receiving this unique personal satisfaction that only solidarity may give you. The community of refugees at Serres camp completed dozens of “movement and exit” forms (when the state measures were stricter) for people who did not know to write, thus, giving them a small sense of freedom.
Through all these, we understood the importance of a united, cooperative and resilient community that is fueled and developed through substantial solidarity. Elements that accompanied these people all along their long journey from their country of origin, to Greece. The place where many of them want to build a new home, to create a daily routine, even amid this crisis.
At SolidarityNow we are here to support people in the new beginning of their lives. Our goal is not only to provide services to vulnerable people, but through information and empowerment, our vision is to contribute to the effort of people to recognize their skills and to overcome the obstacles that arise along the way.
I am Marina-Isaia Mavridou, Project Officer of Child Protection in Northern Greece. I am working at the “Child & Family Support Hubs” program, which is implemented by SolidarityNow with the support of UNICEF and IOM Greece and funded by the European Commission.