A future on hold, indefinitely.

 
"  Petaluma couple aids refugees in Greece  " Santa Rosa Press Democrat

"Petaluma couple aids refugees in Greece" Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Escaping from war, persecution, or natural disaster is just the beginning of the travails for those seeking refuge in another country. The process is complex and tough for both refugees & advocates, requiring many meetings, substantial documentation, legal expenses, and time - often well over a year. In the meantime, asylum seekers like those on the small Greek island of Lesvos face daily fear of deportation, violence & lack of freedom of movement.

New arrivals, often suffering severe trauma from their harrowing journey, are sent to overcrowded and prison-like camps. Moria Camp for example currently overflows with more than twice its maximum capacity of shelter for refugees. Overcrowding combined with restricted freedoms and a lack of basic services leads to more trauma and violence.

These perils cause many to abandon official camps for shelter where they can find it. Vacant buildings or 'squats' provide some measure of shelter & community, but have no heat or A/C, electricity, running water. There is little security & privacy and these squats are often raided by police. Living on the streets in any place that offers some shelter and privacy is the option of last resort for many who fear imminent deportation.

WHO ARE REFUGEES?

Refugees are a particularly vulnerable group of migrants who, based on threats to their very survival, are granted by international law special protection. Any person fleeing war, persecution or natural disaster who succeeds in arriving in another country AND receiving asylum is a refugee. There are millions of refugees living in dozens of countries worldwide.

A MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

Refugees suffer indescribable hardship fleeing from their home countries. They leave their jobs, families and friends behind for an unknown future. Along the way, many refugees are cheated and robbed, and suffer from violent attacks including shootings, rapes and beatings. Many suffer the death and murder of their traveling companions - often their spouses and children - in their search for safety.

Refugees suffer from continued victimization after arriving into the camps. Without proper care, this trauma becomes severely debilitating.

This PBS video talks about the devastating effects of life in limbo at the refugee camp on Lesvos.

DIGNITY AND HOPE

This project is a continuation of efforts by a community of people seeking to do something direct and practical. MB and Eric Leland spent 24 weeks over 2016/19 in Athens and Lesvos volunteering and cultivating relationships with on the ground support networks and local refugees After a presentation of our work to our local community, Scott Valentino and Adam Neville joined the effort, helping to conceive of this online initiative and shape this website and the specific actions to help refugees. The four of them are joined by many friends and family members, along with community partnerships with organizations and businesses in Sonoma County and Marin County California - together we are committed to making a difference in the lives of refugees stranded in Greece.

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