Ard­fern woman vol­un­teers at ‘manic’ Samos ‘jun­gle’

Argyllshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Laura Maxwell ed­i­[email protected]­gyll­shiread­ver­tiser.co.uk

The plight of refugees on the Greek is­land of Samos is wors­en­ing.

With a new surge of mainly Syr­ian refugees, re­ports are com­ing in of an­other makeshift ‘jun­gle’ be­ing cre­ated due to a lack of room and re­sources at the refugee camp.

Samos is just two kilo­me­tres off the Turk­ish coast and the first land­fall for many trav­el­ling via Turkey, but wors­en­ing weather over the winter is causing new prob­lems for refugees on the is­land, who are liv­ing in tents in the cold and rain.

Ard­fern vol­un­teer for char­ity Samos Vol­un­teers, Pam Gre­gory, is in the refugee camp­site, do­ing all she can to help.

Samos Vol­un­teers is the only vol­un­teer group sup­port­ing around 4,000 refugees liv­ing in and around a camp on the is­land.

The char­ity aims to foster a sense of nor­mal­ity and com­bat bore­dom, while em­pow­er­ing peo­ple while they wait for their asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions to be pro­cessed. For the most part, Pam, aged 72, teaches English, but she also helps by sim­ply talk­ing, danc­ing, singing and gen­er­ally keep­ing spir­its high.

She told the Ad­ver­tiser: ‘Work varies from teach­ing English, French, Ger­man, Greek or mu­sic, to sort­ing clothes in the ware­house; do­ing long and hot tea-shifts in the camp where there is only one tap for thou­sands of peo­ple; do­ing ac­tiv­i­ties with the young­sters; crafts with their mums; and break-danc­ing and karate for the young un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors un­der 18 – or­phans to you and me.’

How­ever, the weather has re­cently wors­ened as well as the si­t­u­a­tion in Syria push­ing more peo­ple out of their homes and to­wards Samos. With over­crowd­ing, re­sources are low and a sec­ondary ‘jun­gle’ has been es­tab­lished out­side the camp. Pam said: ‘It’s un­be­liev­ably aw­ful.

A new ‘jun­gle’ has formed out­side the main camp.

Some 1,800 peo­ple are liv­ing in pop ups, un­der tar­pau­lins

or makeshift shel­ters from what­ever they can cob­ble to­gether from the skips in the town.

‘There is no run­ning wa­ter, no toi­lets and no show­ers. It’s ab­so­lutely freez­ing and has been rain­ing non-stop for the past five days.’

Samos Vol­un­teers has re­leased a cook­ery book to raise money.

The book is made up of recipes col­lected from the refugees liv­ing in the camp and is avail­able at dis­placed­dishes.com or the Ard­fern shop with all pro­ceeds go­ing to Samos Vol­un­teers.

The camp is also look­ing for more vol­un­teers to help aid the grow­ing num­ber of refugees. Pam said: ‘Life is pretty manic here. A lot of the vol­un­teers have gone home for Christ­mas and we need all the help we can get

‘Refugees are leav­ing, but even more keep com­ing. We’re ab­so­lutely des­per­ate for more vol­un­teers.’

to keep the essen­tial ser­vices and in­for­mal cur­ricu­lum go­ing. Refugees are leav­ing, but even more keep com­ing. We’re ab­so­lutely des­per­ate for more vol­un­teers.’

She con­tin­ued: ‘You don’t need any par­tic­u­lar skills to be­come a vol­un­teer – just a pas­sion­ate in­ter­est in help­ing peo­ple in this si­t­u­a­tion and the leisure to be able to com­mit a month of your time.’

If you would like to do­nate, visit samosvol­un­teers.org.

Pam Gre­gory sell­ing lan­guage books in the camp.

Pam Gre­gory teach­ing English in the Samos refugee camp.

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