These quilts began their journey to Greece yesterday. If you don't follow The Lesser Bear on Instagram (@thelesserbear) you might not be familiar with this project. After running the fundraising auction, to raise money to aid the Syrian refugees on the Greek Island of Lesvos, I began to make this series of quilts. It was at the suggestion of my friend Tamara of Les Lolos, who volunteered on the island, and thought that quilts might help brighten up a mother and children's tent at Camp Moria.
My goal was to create something bright and cheery, something uplifting, and of course something very durable as I am not 100% positive where these quilts might eventually end up and how they might be used. I decided to make quilts which could be used as hall hangings, bedding and/or playmats, so they could be as useful as possible in whatever situation they end up.
Thanks to Tamara, and Alison Thompson, full time humanitarian and founder of Third Wave Volunteers, and a very kind volunteer who is headed back to Greece to work at the METAdrasi Camp for unaccompanied minors, these quilts are finally on the road to Lesvos. I hope that they can bring some warmth, happiness or comfort at least one person in the camp. It is my sincere wish that the quilts at least convey the message that there are many people who care deeply and wish that these people did not have to experience such heartbreaking hardships.
I did struggle with the idea of making the quilts, when the money could have been spent on the island to buy more than 4 blankets. But I have to believe that art is important in people's lives and to their souls, as a means of conveying a message, as a part of the human experience and that if I could provide just the littlest bit of pleasure in these bleak times, then it is worth it.
More importantly, there are so very many groups of people working hard every day to rescue and care for the refugees on Lesvos. Check out this post by Tamara for some suggestions of where to give, if you would like to support their work.
Please also take a moment to read about Alison Thompson's work, "To provide women and children refugees with fold up origami waterproof solar puff lights which give 8-12 hours of light at night and then recharge during the day in the sun." Such an important project considering the number of people living in tents and in poor conditions with no access to electricity or batteries.
Also, check out the incedibly important work beng done at METAdrasi:
With the aim of resolving the problem of prolonged stay for unaccompanied minors in detention centers, due to the lack of persons both capable and available to undertake the responsibility of escorting, METAction has created a trained network of escorts across Greece, which is constituted and activated “ad hoc” according to the needs of the different escorts.
The “flexible group of escorts” consists of a social worker, interpreters, selected according to the language or languages spoken by the minors, and a person responsible for security. Apart from safe transfer by averting any smuggler attempts to approach the children, the latter are also thoroughly informed as to the dangers they might encounter should they leave the reception center (e.g. physical abuse, rape, organ trafficking) and where to seek help in case anything happens. They are also informed as to their rights and the benefits of the accommodation facilities to which we escort them (e.g. courses of Greek language, athletic activities).
I believe that the quilts are making their way to the Transit Accomodation Facility for Unaccompanied minors:
The goal of the action is to minimize and ideally eliminate the time spent by minors in juvenile detention centers, awaiting official authorization/documentation, that will allow METAdrasi's team to escort the unaccompanied minors to one of the Permanent Hospitality Centers for Unaccompanied Minors that exist throughout Greece. This action also contributes substantially to the protection of minors against networks of smugglers and traffickers.
Our main objective is the provision of temporary accommodation for the unaccompanied minors in a safe facility which is suitably equipped and includes necessary support services in order to effectively facilitate the work of the authorities towards finalizing the procedures for their accompaniment.
The facility has a capacity of 12 beds (with a possibility of extending them to 20-25 beds), and offers priority placement for minors up to 15 years of age.
Having children myself, I am so very touched, by the hard work of this group to help care for these children, in what must be a truely terrifying experience.