Ardfern woman volunteers at ‘manic’ Samos ‘jungle’
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.