In the month of May, WAVE-Thessaloniki served 1,968 hot meals, welcomed 50 new arrivals, distributed 181 hygiene packs, washed 55 loads of laundry, provided 56 simple bucket showers, and charged 45 phones and powerbanks. We also worked together with Room39 this month to respond to the changing weather and needs of the population; we did a summer distribution for all of our service users and distributed 77 summer packs complete with shorts, t-shirts, hygiene items, boxers and socks. We managed to set up the distribution in free-shop style so the people could pick which t-shirts they wanted, giving people the dignity to wear the things they prefer! With the weather heating up and summer beginning, the need for proper showers has increased. In response, we launched the fundraiser for plumbing in our shower container which is fitted with five individual shower cubicles, sinks and lockers for personal belongings. Within no time we reached our target, and so we expect to have the showers up and running in the next couple of weeks!
In the first few days of May we celebrated Eid. After a very exciting Ramadan with lots of special extras due to our successful fundraising drive it was hard to top it off for the special day! We made a traditional beef tagine with prunes and almonds, and prepared hand-made traditional North African sweets in advance to serve a selection. We also got a donation of goodies from Miralina’s Halal Sweets which went down very well. As the summer comes, it brings with it exciting new fruits and veggies from the local markets – bananas, avocados, peppers, courgettes, cherries and other fresh ingredients are part of the weekly menu now.
Organisations across Northern Greece have been struggling to recruit volunteers this summer, due to the number of new projects opening up at Ukrainian borders. It has been great to see the solidarity between different groups with people travelling from Northern Lights Aid in Kavala, Lifting Hands International in Serres, and IHA in Diavata to help us out in the kitchen when we need it. In terms of staffing, we also have some major developments this month with Operations Coordinator, Nele, and Volunteer Coordinator, Imogen, leaving the project to pursue the next steps in their life after giving up a lot of their time to grow the project into what it is today. We will be welcoming Jelle and Max to replace them, who I am sure we will be getting more updates from in the coming months.
Sadly, there have been several difficult developments in Northern Greece over the last month. Broom operations, which started in Athens in April, have continued rigorously and spread to Thessaloniki. As a result we have seen increased police presence at our distributions, and the majority of people we normally serve are in hiding for fear of long-term detention or pushbacks. This has resulted in a big drop in our numbers, and the fact that we see largely Greek homeless beneficiaries in the last weeks. Coupled with the increased fortification of the Evros land border and a spike in illegal pushbacks, the situation of our beneficiaries becomes more precarious and difficult as time goes on. Therefore, we rely on your support more than ever to support them in the best way we can.