Monthly Report - November 2021

This month, WAVE served 2,152 hot meals, washed 51 loads of laundry, distributed 145 basic hygiene packs, 34 pairs of shoes and welcomed 140 new arrivals.

As we come into November, the days are getting even colder and the rain and high winds continue. We have continued throughout this month to distribute winter jackets with an appointments system, and are seeing a big increase in demand for thermal leggings and tops, jumpers, hats, gloves, and scarves. Thanks to our collaboration with the IHA warehouse, generous donations from Three Peas, and an incoming shipment from a jacket company in Kassel we are able to respond to these needs and provide some basic warmth and comfort for people living in abandoned buildings and other precarious structures, with little protection from the winter cold. On top of this, we have seen an increase both in new arrivals and pushback victims coming to our distributions this month. These are some of the last days people-on-the-move are able to travel across borders before temperatures drop into minus and the risk of hypothermia and frostbite become very real. As a result, people are trying desperately to continue their journeys before it is too late and they are stuck for the winter months. A lot of people particularly fear getting stuck in Greece, where access to basic support is increasingly difficult and the risk of being violently pushed back to Turkey is ever present. Those who arrive new from the Turkish border or are pushed back from North Macedonia and Albania often come with nothing, having had their belongings destroyed or lost them whilst running from police. We always do our best to welcome them with a hot meal, a cup of tea, a bucket shower, new clothes, hygiene items and a smile.

We have spent the month developing the WAVE Cookbook and adding new ideas to our menus. Some particular sweet treats have gone down a delight with the community; one of our volunteers from Morocco has been making traditional side dishes like harcha (a Moroccan bread of semolina, oil, sugar, salt and vanilla essence) and briouat (a small, sweet, crispy pastry dipped in honey and coated with sesame seeds). We even put a British twist on the second dish by making small briouat apple pies, stuffed with a caramelised apple and almond sauce. As you can probably imagine, people loved these! As always in the winter our vegetable stock diminishes and is less colourful than in the warm summer months. Still our volunteer chefs are doing their best to be creative with what we have – battering and frying cauliflower and cabbage, blending up side dips like garlic yoghurts and tzatziki, and continuing with crowd pleasers like mujaddara and warming tagines. As our numbers fluctuate so much with the constant movement between the borders we are rarely able to know how many people will come to our distributions each day; we always make 100 portions, but get away with mixing the leftovers into a soup the following day to avoid waste and add a warm side to our menu. Welcome donations of instant soup and hollandaise sauce from Algepa/GAIN has also helped us diversify our menu, and whip up easy soups on a daily basis to keep the people warm as they wait in line.

One of our new volunteers who has lots of experience in previous projects and is a tech-wizz has helped us set up new systems and spreadsheets where we can better monitor our inventory, plan what needs to be stocked up when, and report back to you all with more specifics of what we have donated each month. Not only will this streamline our stock management, but it means we will know the finite details of what we are given out, to the exact number of bars of soap each week! With these systems now in place, we will be able to give more detailed breakdowns in our reports in 2022 which will help you all see exactly where your generous donations go. We also look forward in the coming weeks to the donation of a shower container from Sea Punks that will see us develop a proper shower project, not just a bucket, jug and hot water (which the people are already so grateful for). This, plus a convoy of volunteers and donations coming from Germany with Grenzenlose Waerme gives us much to look forward to in the Christmas month. Again, none of this would be possible without all of you – so thank you! And keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram page (@wave.thessaloniki) to follow the wonderful Advent campaign our volunteers have put together this year.