We spent the day doing what Allied Aid does best – shifting and molding as the needs change. We hit the road early and stopped at Veria camp where we delivered the rest of the #GiveWarmth donations and a special donation of puffer jackets from Patagonia. Because we didn’t have enough of these jackets for everyone, we asked Sam James, an enthusiastic, big-hearted volunteer from Bridge2 to bring us door-to-door to the most vulnerable families. Veria is situated at an old army base overlooking a deep, blue lake high in the mountains. Families are housed in the former barracks and while some large NGOs operate at the camp, Sam, his mother Sarah and a small team of volunteers do most of the distribution work as well as keeping tabs of families with serious needs. This particular family had lost twin babies just a few days before, born early but unable to survive. We sat for a good few hours chatting in broken English/Arabic/Greek and shared a simple meal of sweet bread, thick coffee and canned peaches. It was a beautiful few hours. Somehow language was not necessary and in the moment almost felt it would have been a barrier to the connection we were all sharing as we held hands, showed off family photos and laughed at the children’s antics. After a few more stops to families – all who wanted us to stay for tea or a small meal – we loaded up the van with extra supplies from the Veria warehouse and headed to a new camp located in a nearby hotel.
These families – 27 of them – are Yazidis, recently relocated from Petra which sits at the base of Mount Olympus. Without proper shelter, the conditions were becoming unbearable and unacceptable at Petra so the ministry is in the process of moving the residents to new locations. However since this move had just happened, many supplies were lacking. We delivered diapers, baby food, packed tuna and hygiene supplies. The basics. We had some extra time so we asked if they needed anything else and the answer was simple and humbling – bananas and cookies. So off we went. Three boxes of bananas and several boxes of cookies later, we left knowing we’d help tide them over until the larger NGOs were able to get there. Our final stop of the day was to another apartment/hotel building, home to less than 20 families. Since there was already another grassroots group there distributing coats, we again went door-to-door delivering applesauce, baby food, bananas and cereal. A few families invited us in, and it was fascinating to see what they’re doing to make ends meet. One man from Aleppo has taken to making intricate jewelry and sculptures out of wire and beads. An Eiffel Tower replica, a violin and even a motorized truck were displayed proudly throughout the small room. According to the family, the items will be sold throughout the area to help the family purchase food or other needed items. It is incredibly inspiring to see how creative people can be despite the hardship and overwhelming needs and we all left grateful for the full day spent sharing stories and love. — Natalie