A charity volunteers perspective on his Humanitarian Aid mission to Lesvos – Greece

Below is an article written by an Aid member following his trip to Lesvos – Greece providing much needed Aid to the Syrian refugees travelling through Greece. It is written in the hope of giving everyone an insight into the feelings experienced and to hopefully encourage more people to take time out their busy lives to help the less fortunate.
May Allah accept the work carried out by all volunteers around the world and may He ease the sufferings of all humans around the world.
Humanitarian Aid Trip to Lesvos – Greece
5-11 February 2016

Charity: Abdullah Aid
Volunteers perspective:-
Having worked with the team members from Abdullah Aid on a previous aid mission to Yorkshire where we assisted vulnerable people like the elderly after the devastating floods over the Christmas period in 2015,  I was quite excited when the Charity announced a new opportunity to travel to Greece to provide humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees travelling through Greece.
The excitement stemmed from the vibrant atmosphere and team spirit of all the members/volunteers from Abdullah Aid and the feeling of happiness that was felt when seeing the heart felt appreciation from the victims of the floods.
With no-one having attended Greece before and the sketchy details about what to expect from the charity’s previous trip to Calais refugee camp, the thought became a bit more daunting as the time approached to travel.
I had never physically encountered refugees who had lost everything from loved ones to their livelihood to their homes so I wasn’t sure how to approach them which left a lingering nervous feeling over me but I was determined not to let the thought weigh me down.
I then started focusing more on articles and the live news on the refugee crisis. Seeing pictures and videos of the refugee crisis gave me the confidence that what I was venturing into was a good and humane thing to do.
A few days before my departure, I informed work colleagues, friends and family of my plans to go and help out in Greece with the refugee crisis and the feedback was great. Everyone mentioned how great an act I was doing.
At this point I was left with mixed emotions of happiness and guilt that my intentions were being altered. The intention was always to be humble in assisting fellow humans in need and now a sense of pride was trying to creep in.
I sought advice from a very close and wise friend who advised me that the actual work I was intending to do was a very important act and to focus on the act itself rather than anything else as I will be making a real difference to people’s lives which helped me in re-focusing on the good that will come from the act.
I was now feeling more mentally prepared.
A 12 man strong team of us left on 5th February 2016 and the organisers had arranged for us to be picked up from home and transported to the airport.
With a few unfamiliar faces, I wondered how the team spirit would differ from my previous outing with the team which was such a fantastic experience.
Immediately we were introduced to all the team members and the atmosphere was electrifying. Everyone excited at the thought of helping others and at the same time, enjoy ourselves within the group. This is the ethos of the group. Trying to make it enjoyable so that the reality of what we were about to witness wouldn’t weigh us down emotionally.
Upon landing in Mittilini on the island of Lesvos – Greece, the weather was appalling. There was torrential rain, the winds were very heavy and the temperature around 4 degrees Celsius. A realisation of the task ahead started to dawn upon us.
As it was late in the evening, we checked into our hotel and took rest.
The following morning, we arranged to meet a group of 4 volunteers from Bolton, UK who had already been there for a week. This group of friends had great experience on how to concert our efforts effectively as they have been going to help in Greece regularly since October 2015.
They drove us around the island departing their invaluable experience showing us where the ferry port was, where the Moria processing camp for refugees was and also where we could source food, fruit and clothing from wholesalers. They also introduced us to the wholesalers so as to establish a relationship with them.
Our daily routine consisted of rising up early and visiting the wholesalers to stock up on foods, fruits, water, milk and clothing then travelling to the ferry port a few hours before departure to hand out the stock to the refugees before they boarded the ferries.
What was astonishing was seeing the happy faces of the children travelling with their parents. Although the look on the parents faces was that of stress, they bravely put on smiles for us as they realised we were there to provide them with basic essentials such as food, fruit, water and milk for free.
A regular thought that crossed my mind and filled me with utter happiness when encountering each and every Syrian refugee family was that they remained humble when taking goods from us. They wouldn’t accept more than one of each item as they realised we were there to help every single family. Even in this desperate situation, they remained content with receiving little which was sufficient for the current moment rather than being greedy and asking for more to stock up for later.
There were many charities, groups of friends and individuals present at the port distributing a wide range of goods which was beautiful sight to see. People that had taken time out of their lives to come and help.
One group of women came with baby carriers and gave them out to women and men that were carrying their children in their hands. They helped the parents by strapping the carriers around them and then putting the babies into the carriers. This was amazing as it now meant they could travel slightly easier as they were able to carry their bags freely in their hands without having to carry the babies and bags together in their hands.
One evening while eating at a local restaurant namely Damas, we decided that we would ask the owner if we could strike a deal to buy fresh Falafel sandwiches and tea at a discounted price to distribute to the refugees which went down a treat as he agreed and was very supportive of feeding the refugees in transit so for the last few days of our 6 day trip, we would buy the stock and take it down to the port and distribute it to the refugees to their sheer delight.
‘Better days for Moria’ is an amazing camp site on a piece of land right next to the Moria refugee processing camp.
I wanted to mention them as the guys there are doing a fantastic job.
It consists of various big tents for food, tea, clothing and medication. They also had smaller tents dotted around for refugees to sleep safely in.  The purpose of this campsite is to provide the travelling refugees with a bit of respite and to hand out free food, tea, clothing and medical attention before they move on to the next part of their journey. The volunteers here are made up of people from all around the world. Again people that have given up their time to come and support and help the refugees in any way.
The medical tent comprised of doctors from around the world who volunteered their time and took shifts in providing 24 hour medical expertise to the refugees.
All food and clothing are recieved by way of donation.
Here we found another opportunity to stock up the food, tea and clothing tents with supplies for the refugees.
We would take a list of items required daily and source them locally then donate them to the appropriate tents.
The time finally came to leave and we found ourselves with mixed emotions as all the members were looking forward to seeing their families yet sad to leave the desperate situation the refugees were in.
Now that we’re back in the UK and home with our families, a sense of closeness to our near and dear ones has been solidified along with a sense of appreciation of all the stability and security we enjoy and take for granted like the warmth in our homes, the good food we eat, the clean water we drink and all the basic things required for a good life.
I find myself reminiscing on our trip and the sheer joy we felt at helping those less fortunate than us and how they appreciated everything we did.
I certainly will return to the island of Lesvos to help as best I can and would love to go out with the team at Abdullah Aid who were fantastic in their organisation and team spirit.
A big thank you to the Abdullah Aid team. A very good concerted effort to help those in need as usual.
Written by an Abdullah Aid member.