Getting support

Here I am again with my blog! It’s cold in Athens: today it is 4 degrees. I really have to get used to this weather because lately the temperature felt almost like summer. Suddenly we need extra sleeping bags. Not only for outside, because it can be pretty cold in a building where the heating does not work. Mostly due to the fact that some people do not pay, that will influence everyone in the building. Or they arrange with each other that no one is going to pay and that they will all use electric heating, because it is too expensive. I think in the long-term that is even more expensive. I am glad that our heating does work, even a couple of times per day. Luckily, I also have sleeping bags which I can hand out to people in need. Also, the hostels are open for night shelter. There is a possibility for a quick COVID-test at the front door of the hostels. However, still some people do not want or are not able to go inside. Therefore, I still had 25 people for tea this morning. Actually, that is pretty much. In most cases, it is not cold for a very long time in Athens. Around Athens you see some hills covered with snow. I also received a picture on WhatsApp from Malakasa covered with snow, a camp. You do not want to live there in a container. However, it is at least better than a tent. That is where the people sleep who do not have any documents. Winter is a terrible time for refugees.

Last week was a regular working week for me. Mothers with baby’s came to visit us for milk formula, the baby milk. It went well: nice people and no trouble. They are all “out of the program” which means that their asylum application was honored. That also means that they almost immediately have to leave their apartment and do no longer receive cash support. They are completely dependent on themselves and on charity which brings them from one problem into another. Mostly they borrow money from family and try to find individuals or groups who are willing to support them in their basic needs. There are quite some people who are willing to help, which is good……. They want to leave this country where they do not see a future for themselves. What I do is help them where I can, thanks to the support from the Netherlands.

Besides all this, I am working with Crossroads – a small Greek organization. We try to establish a small fund for helping the group Urdu-speakers who, as I have mentioned before, have only little chances to receive documents. It is of great importance to help them. Most of them are here illegally. For them it is not possible to be outside a lot. Some of them are in my class for Greek, English and Bible classes. We decided to name the fund “5+2-fund”. We used to have that at the Salvation Army as well. It was meant for those people who really did not have anything, and it refers to the Bible story of five breads and two fishes. After Jesus blessed it, it was enough to feed 5000 people. We want to buy food in bulk packaging: rice, flour, oil etc. which we could distribute it in small portions. It will be a cheaper option compared to buying per individual. We could also use the money for phone cards and grants for rent. I hope we can find sponsors.

Furthermore, I make a lot of kilometers each day. Mostly in ‘my’ park. Sometimes I go to the city to meet people who ask for help. All in a COVID safe way, meeting them in open air. Our lockdown will be eased tomorrow. Shops will open under strict rules and you are allowed to drive for max. 2 hours to buy something. I need new hiking boots, how can that be possible .

May I ask for your prayers for all the people that are looking for a “normal life”. The situation here is heartbreaking. I have no idea how we should deal with all this. However, we have a mighty God!