In April, WAVE distributed 2,371 hot meals, welcomed 53 new arrivals, gave out 143 hygiene packs, washed 49 loads of laundry, charged 75 phones and powerbanks, and gave 55 simple bucket showers.
As you all probably know, April was the month of Ramadan which is a very important time of fasting and reflection for the majority of our community. Due to the successful fundraising efforts organised by previous volunteers, and generous donations from Cuisinse sans Frontieres, Anthropia Network and Hamburger Hilfskonvoi, as well as many private individual donors, we were able to put on a real feast. The last two years, Ramadan has been during lockdown with restrictions including curfews that meant we couldn’t distribute later to accommodate changing iftar times. This year, we moved our distribution to later in the evening, meaning most people could come for the moment they broke their fast. The special dishes we made included: steamed cabbage leaf spring rolls, traditional tagines with chicken and beef, minced lamb with raisins and almonds, maakouda (Moroccan potato cakes), harira soup, and deserts of halwa richbond, briouat, chbakiya, beghrir, just to name a few! Our volunteers from the community really enjoyed teaching others traditional recipes from their homes and sharing in this time together. Donations from Anthropia Network and the local cafe Mozzaic also meant we could provide dates and milk or ayran for breaking fast with, which is custom, and friends from Miralina’s Halal Sweets in Berlin also sent a package of halal goodies for us to distribute. Furthermore, a trip to the Cash and Carry funded by Hamburger Hilfskonvoi has left our storage room stocked up for weeks to come.
Due to the invasion of Ukraine, which has had devastating consequences for human lives and fundamental rights, we have seen an increase in prices of essential items like cooking oil and gas, and petrol. Network Anthropia has been supporting us with these increased prices so that we can keep the project running, and an amazing donation of 1000L of oil from Christian Refugee Relief also saw us through the last weeks. Unfortunately, our warehouse was broken into and the majority of our oil was stolen, meaning we will have to continue our fundraising efforts to support our cooking operations for the next month.
Summer has finally come to Thessaloniki and the sun has been shining over the last week. With the warm weather comes the increased transit of people-on-the-move between borders and so we have started to see our numbers rise in the last few days and an increase in new arrivals. We react to each one with the offer of a hot meal, a shower, a change of clothes, and a hygiene kit; for many this is the first sign of humanity of more than 20 days walking from the border. Sadly, with increased movement we see increased pushbacks with many of our beneficiaries leaving and coming back from the borders of North Macedonia and Albania after several attempts to cross and consistent illegal pushbacks conducted by state authorities. This, coupled with the broom operations that have been launched in Thessaloniki the last days, has rendered the city an increasingly dangerous place for the people we serve. Thanks to all your generous donations we are able to carve out some safety for them in the midst of all this, greet them with a smile and meet their basic needs.