Monthly Report - October 2021

This month, WAVE served 2342 hot meals, washed 55 loads of laundry, distributed 124 basic hygiene packs, 39 pairs of shoes and welcomed 91 new arrivals.

As the days continue to get colder we have begun focusing more on providing hearty, filling dishes such as chicken biryani, fish tagine, harira soup, dhal and mujadara to give people the nutrients and warmth they need to face the cold nights. Thanks to regular donations from the Greek farmer’s markets (organised via Boroume), and to our very creative and talented volunteers, we have also managed to provide many side dishes and additional treats such as baba ganoush, tzatziki, tempura-battered cauliflower and aubergine, sweet couscous and warm fruit compotes served with toasted oats, dates and walnuts. Long-standing members of the community we serve have given us increasingly positive feedback regarding the dishes we prepare each day. Each meal is always served with either a hot tea for the colder weather or a nourishing juice – a recent favourite, kiwi and persimmon. In response to this, one volunteer has started a WAVE Cookbook, jotting down successful recipes and providing guidelines for future volunteers on how to cook large quantities of food without compromising on flavour. We hope future volunteers and community members will be inspired to add their own ideas and recipes to this cookbook.

On World Food Day, we took part in an online campaign organised by the global network Social Gastronomy Movement, joining hundreds of organisations, universities and individuals across the world in celebrating the value of nutritious food as a right from which people should not be excluded. This online action took place at a time when the monthly cash allowance previously offered to asylum seekers in Greece was suspended. Although the Greek ministry had promised to replace this cash assistance scheme, they have not yet implemented a new system, leaving many people to go without. As such, people are instead forced to rely on food distributions like our own so that some of their basic needs can be met. This month we saw an increase in the numbers of people attending our distributions which have otherwise been slowly declining as a result of the ever-intensifying fortification of the EU’s external borders and ongoing climate of repression against the people we serve. Thus, it is clear to us that supporting people-on-the-move to access basic necessities like food and hygiene items is now more important than ever.

In order to offer effective support during this time, we organized a winter clothing distribution at the beginning of the month in preparation for the falling temperatures. These winter packs included hats, scarves, gloves, thermal vests and thermal leggings, winter socks, joggers and jumpers for all. For this distribution, we set up clothing rails to allow each person to pick a jumper of their choice. Having the opportunity to choose an item of clothing that suits one’s own style and needs was greatly appreciated by the community we serve and we were pleased to be able to facilitate such a distribution. We distributed a total of 124 winter packs this month, made possible thanks to donations from NAOMI, who provided us with winter joggers; Grenzenlose Wärme, who provided us with winter clothing, blankets, sleeping bags and hygiene items; Hamburger Hilfskonvoi, who sent us sleeping bags, winter clothing and hygiene items; Flensburger Flüchtlingshilfe from whom we received men’s winter jumpers and jackets; and Three Peas, who kindly funded the hats, scarves and gloves. We have also changed all new arrivals packs to include these items so that those crossing borders can be better protected from the increasingly cold weather. Along with this, in the middle of the month, we began distributing winter jackets on an appointment basis. Again, we did this by setting up a clothing rail enabling people to choose for themselves. So far we have distributed 30 jackets and expect to distribute many more in the coming months, along with sleeping bags and blankets to those who require them.

Not surprisingly, we faced some bad weather this month with our distributions often taking place in the rain. While we do our best to manage by offering those in attendance rain ponchos, we are all still exposed to the elements. This, along with the fact that many of the people we serve live in abandoned buildings that don’t offer proper protection from the weather mean that people have begun seeking out our laundry service more frequently. We have washed a total of 209 loads since May with over a quarter of those washes taking place this month demonstrating the rapid increase in demand. However, the colder, damp weather means it is taking longer for people’s laundry to dry and in the long term will affect how many loads of laundry we will be able to do each month. We are looking into funding opportunities to purchase a dryer as this will increase our capacity.

Another outcome of the change in weather is the increase in demand for showers. Unfortunately, we do not have proper shower facilities at the centre where we are based but instead offer people rudimentary “showers” by providing people with a jug and a large bucket of warm water that we pre-boil in our kettles. Individuals are then given the privacy of our bathroom to wash in, along with a new pair of socks, boxers, a clean towel and any hygiene items that they may need. In the past week we have provided 15 showers to the people we serve and again, expect the number of showers we provide each week to increase as the weather worsens. As always, we would like to thank our donors and supporters for continuing to enable us to provide these services for those suffering from the increasingly hostile migration policies imposed on people-on-the-move. Our project is a particularly vital source of basic necessities for people without adequate housing facilities and for those crossing borders during the winter months. We appreciate your ongoing support!