News

Good News Two Times Over!!!!!

When something wonderful happens for our friends, we share their joy. And that is especially true this week. Our Vice Chair, Steve, and Tony, a retired doctor and his partner of nearly 34 years, finally saw their commitment recognized under Greek law. Adding to the moment, theirs was the first same-sex civil partnership (symfono symviosis) signed by Athens Mayor George Kaminis and officially the first in Greece.

The news is spreading steadily now, and DAGR shares the joy, if not the credit. The country committee in Greece has exercised restraint in joining with LGBT activists locally, all the while supporting DA’s global effort. DA’s role, including participation in Pride events in more liberal countries, is to advocate for gender issues in the US. So, naturally, last year, when the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Dems Abroad, and its LGBT Caucus in particular, cheered.

And so did we, even while worrying the decision might entice some of our supporters to take their spouses back to the US. With this new Greek law, our LGBT couples can choose to stay here, and DAGR can ‘come out,’ too. Potentially, this means a DAGR LGBT Caucus and participation as an organization in the next Pride event. There will be more events, because there will be many practicalities in the new laws (everywhere) to work through and because it takes a while for laws on the books to become laws of the heart.

Let me return, for just a minute, to the personal level. Steve and I first worked together for the 2009 Inaugural celebration at ACS. We’ve cooperated closely for almost 10 months now at the helm of DAGR. And it has been a total pleasure; he’s one of the most thoughtful human beings I know … and a lot more self-disciplined that I am. I flare up, Steve smooths me out, and a happy medium goes forward. Oddly enough, despite a few meetings held at Steve’s place, I’ve never met Tony. In these recent months, he’s been gone a lot, volunteering with Doctors of the World in refugee centers around the country. We’ve had one or two long phone chats about the refugee reality, and from these I gather he’s at least the second most thoughtful human being. He’s also served on the mayor’s refugee advisory committee, so it seems Mr. Kaminis shares my take. Friends of theirs add to the chorus of ‘really, really good people; couldn’t have happened for nicer folks!’

We thought it wise to check with Steve before ‘going to press’ with the news. He’s away on business this week, but here’s what he emailed back with the go-ahead, “We are really proud to be able to promote and celebrate social progress...and maybe along the way bring those Manolis in the closet out, so they can learn that they have power.”

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Doing what each of us -- as individuals and as members of a historically progressive political organization -- can do to make the world a more just place, where everyone has the means to live and the liberty to pursue a bit of happiness.

To Steve and Tony, our heartfelt best wishes on this momentously happy occasion!

Karen Lee

DAGR Chair


Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act of 2015 (DRIVE Act)

DRIVE aims to provide funding for the federal transportation network as well as for investments in highway infrastructure. The recapitalization of the Highway Trust Fund, which faces financial difficulties, is another goal of the proposed legislation.

One of the provisions included in the multitude of pages authorizes the revocation, or denial of renewal, of a US citizen’s passport if the citizen has an outstanding tax liability to the IRS of $50,000 or more. When the law is passed, it is expected to generate a considerable dollar amount per annum in tax revenue.

thanks to Kat

Regardless of revenue gains, this provision might very well cause problems to the nearly 110 million Americans who hold valid passports (a much larger number than what is commonly believed) and who could sometime along the way have to deal with tax debt. The problem is even worse when it comes to Americans living abroad (a rough estimate places the number somewhere between three and six million) who rely on their passports far more heavily than their fellow Americans living in the United States.

If overseas Americans cannot renew their passports, or have them revoked, they will not even be able to travel back home and might see their lives thrown into disarray since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, currently codified as 8 U.S.C. § 1185, stipulates that: Except as otherwise provided by the President and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may authorize and prescribe, it shall be unlawful for any citizen of the United States to depart from or enter, or attempt to depart from or enter, the United States unless he bears a valid United States passport.

The aforementioned provision could be tantamount to exile. What is more, this policy was not introduced after consultation with the American diaspora and, to exacerbate the problem, communication between the IRS and the overseas community is not what it should be mainly due to overseas IRS office closures and funding cuts.

Another issue regarding the case is the fact that there seem to be questions of due process. It is not clear if citizens threatened with passport revocation or renewal denial will get to appear before a judge and have a fair and impartial hearing. Furthermore, taking into consideration that to err is human, is there a guarantee that no mistakes will be made and no person will be deprived of a passport due to some glitch in the IRS system? Will the Americans concerned be able to seek an injunction against the revocation of their passport if they are mistakenly branded as delinquent taxpayers? Will they be able to take any other course of legal action necessary in case they suffer damages due to passport problems? It appears to be rather difficult to sue the government due to the doctrine of sovereign immunity which holds it immune to damage claims unless it agrees to such litigation. Although certain kinds of lawsuits against federal employees are allowed by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), the process is complicated and time consuming.

On a different note, one might see broader issues at play. Freedom of movement is governed by the United States Constitution under the Privileges and Immunities Clause and is seen by many Americans as a human right – whether it is movement within the US or internationally – that is fundamental to the pursuit of happiness. Such freedom is a characteristic of open societies, a valid passport being a means that makes it possible, and it is too important to jeopardize over tax debt or budget concerns.

Although it is true that the administration can deny or revoke passports on grounds of foreign policy, national security or suspected criminal conduct, one should tread carefully when such matters are involved. For example, in Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116 (1958), the United States Secretary of State refused the issuance of a passport to an American citizen on the basis of suspicions that they intended to travel abroad to promote communism. The Court did not deal with the question of constitutionality in this case, but in an opinion by Justice William O. Douglas it held that the federal government may not restrict the right to travel without due process:

“The right to travel is a part of the ‘liberty’ of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment. If that ‘liberty’ is to be regulated, it must be pursuant to the law-making functions of the Congress. . . . . Freedom of movement across frontiers in either direction, and inside frontiers as well, is a part of our heritage. Travel abroad, like travel within the country . . . may be as close to the heart of the individual as the choice of what he eats, or wears, or reads. Freedom of movement is basic in our scheme of values.”

It also held that “the broad power of the Secretary under 22 U.S.C. § 211a to issue passports, which has long been considered ‘discretionary,’ has been construed generally to authorize the refusal of a passport only when the applicant (1) is not a citizen or a person owing allegiance to the United States, or (2) was engaging in criminal or unlawful conduct.”

By Vassilis Fragiskos

Editor’s note: In November, 2015, Dems Abroad (DPCA) wrote to members of Congress urging this provision be removed from the highway bill. DPCA continues to advocate for a careful review to reduce impacts on Americans living outside the US.


Help Dems Abroad! Help the US Embassy!

Double-Duty Voting Scores ‘Points’

Dems Abroad in Greece have so many choices. We can vote a home state primary AND save the Presidential slot to vote in the DAGR Global Presidential Primary (GPP) in March. We can send our ballot back by regular mail and pay postage, or by courier and pay more, OR by Embassy pouch and … mail postage free! We just have to plan our moves.

The US Embassy in Athens wants to get out the vote for 2016. Their goal is to encourage every eligible American voter abroad to exercise their voting right.

To get the ball rolling, US citizen groups, including Dems Abroad and our Republican counterparts, were invited to an informational exchange yesterday (26 Jan) at the Embassy. Key Embassy Athens staff, including the Deputy Chief of Mission, the Consul General and the Voting Assistance Officer presented their outreach plans.

Embassy Plans October Party

Besides providing voting assistance (advice and computers) on site and through support out of Athens ‘wardens’, the Embassy is preparing a “voting party” in October for the General Election. Citizens in the Athens area can bring in their absentee ballots, address the envelope to their county board of elections, and ‘cast’ it in the box that will go out via the State Department pouch system.

The envelopes will be counted, by destination address, along with those left in the Embassy drop-box. This will give Athens a tally of overall votes sent out and the spread of states they’re headed for.  We sensed there may be a little informal competition among Embassies and Consulates worldwide for highest per-eligible-capita and most states returned.

The October party promises to be a lot like DAGR’s Global Presidential Primary Voting Center (GPP), with ‘serious fun’ adding to the ‘real polling station’ feel. Expect drum rolls when the Ambassador casts the first vote, and for the youngest first-voter, the oldest and so on. Expect DAGR to borrow a few ideas for the GPP on March 6!

Embassy Efforts Enhance DAGR’s 

The Consular Section role in voter assistance in no way diminishes DAGR’s efforts. While the Embassy is promoting use of the FVAP registration form, we Democrats can still use our own VoteFromAbroad.org (VFA form based on the FVAP).

When we use the VFA site to register, the software keeps count. This predicts our members’ activity, but there’s no system, yet, to see how many ballots are actually voted and sent back.

Beyond those who call in for help, the Embassy has no way of knowing who registered by VFA or other online sites or directly with their home county. But they DO know how many ballots are returned through their mail system.

So, we can use VFA to register and the Embassy's diplomatic pouch to send ballots back, and that scores ‘good job’ points for both!

DAGR was well represented at yesterday’s meeting, officially by the Chair, Secretary and one At-Large Rep. The Treasurer and three other members were in delegations from three other American organizations. We seem to be well dispersed across the community, in fact the total number of DAGR people in attendance (6) made us the largest group by far.


DAGR's Launch of the Women's Caucus

DA Greece WC Launch Nov 16, 2016

Click on the pink link above to see the slideshow.


Generosity on the Ground in Greece part 5 - Athen and Pireas

For our fellow Dems Abroad who’ve asked how they can help, links to the groups on the front lines. This is the third of a five part series that began on Jan 11, 2016.  The series is divided up by the location of the services, so Lesvos volunteer organisations are found in the first 3 postings. The fourth posting is for Kos.

On the Mainland: Piraeus Port, Central Athens

Immigrant and Refugee Support Group in Athens

https://www.facebook.com/groups/204202716585823/

The group aims at providing information about what is going on in Athens and volunteering or offering donations. The volunteers meet at the port of Piraeus to greet refugees disembarking ships coming in from Samos, Lesvos, Kos and Rhodes to provide them with additional clothing, a back-pack filled with essentials, toiletries and guides before they board buses headed for the next border or head on to the camps at Eleona and Ellinikon hosting refugees while they complete the documentation process.

Sotiris Alexopoulos is the coordinator of Refugees Welcome to Piraeus.

_________________________________________________________________________

Project Soup Port

https://www.facebook.com/vereinsoliba/

The Swiss volunteers from Project Soup provide hot tea and soups - prepared and offered on the spot at the entrance of the refugee welcoming station based in E1 passenger terminal in the port of Piraeus. A group of Swiss residents in Greece have organized to bring soup to the port as a part of the meet and greet as travelers disembark the vessels at the port of Piraeus. The organization is devoted to the care of the refugees with the supply and preparation of food. 2 or 3 small trucks with a mobile kitchen included go to exhausted refugees to offer a warm meal.

Donation:IBAN: Ch15 0839 0034 0179 1000 6 (note soup-Port)
Bankclearing: 8390 Bic (Swift code): Absoch22

________________________________________________________________

Greek Council for Refugees

 http://www.gcr.gr/index.php/en/

The Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) is a Non-Governmental Organization, which has been active since 1989 in the field of asylum and human rights in Greece. On a daily basis, GCR welcomes and offers free legal and social advice and services to refugees and people coming from countries who are entitled to international protection, while special emphasis is put on vulnerable cases, such as unaccompanied minors, victims of trafficking etc. GCR’s Refugee Reception and Interpreters Unit handles the first contact with our beneficiaries since it is consisted of a group of multilingual receptionists, interpreters and political scientists. The interpreters, by conveying the social-historical-cultural features that characterize each case, contribute significantly to the proper function of the Service while they also participate in visits to detention centers, courts and hospitals in order to facilitate GCR beneficiaries’ access to services and goods.

gcr1@gcr.gr

25 Solomou Str., 10682, Athens    +30 210 3800990-1   F: +30 210 3803774

Donations: National Bank of Greece Account: 116/29606564   IBAN: GR5301101160000011629606564

________________________________________________________________________________

METAction

http://www.metadrasi.org/eng/

The Non-Governmental Organization “METAction” was founded in December 2009, its primary aim being to promote a rational system for managing mixed migration flows, while encouraging respect for human rights, national and international legislation, through the development of actions for the reception and integration of immigrants and refugees in Greece, as well as of actions of support for their voluntary return and reintegration in their countries of origin.

metadrasi@gmail.com / volunteer.metadrasi@gmail.com

8 Thesprotias, Athens, Greece
 +30 210 520 1792, +30 210 5201794
Donations: bank deposit at GR29 0140 1040 1040 0200 2019 320 of Alpha Bank

________________________________________________________________

The Salvation Army in Greece

http://www.salvationarmy.gr/

The Salvation Army is an international Christian movement that operates in 124 countries worldwide. In Greece, the Salvation Army has been operating as a nonprofit company from January 2011, standing by the homeless, elderly, young families with infants and victims of trafficking. They are assisting refugees in central Athens as well.

61 Kodrigtonos 10434 Athens

athens@salvationarmy.gr

v.katsantonis@salvationarmy.gr - volunteer coordinator,

emily.carlsson@salvationarmy.gr - program coordinator 

Donations: Eurobank IBAN GR0602602520000120200537860    SWIFT CODE: EFGBGRAA

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Home for Refugees and Immigrants Notara 26

http://www.notara26.info/blog/?lang=en

This project stands for a self-organized solidarity project, wherein locals and refugees-immigrants decide together. Official “squatting” in an abandon public building in Athens at 26 Notara, volunteers cover the refugees/immigrants immediate needs: shelter, food and medical help. The decisive body is the squat’s open assembly where everyone is welcome to participate with no exclusions. 

Notara 26 runs a collective kitchen. Materials contributions are welcome and/or your help in the collective cooking.

+30 6947 908 121 +30 6978 873 643        notara26@riseup.net

 For part 1 - Lesvos: http://www.democratsabroad.org/1301/generosity_on_the_ground_in_greece

 For part 2 - Lesvos: http://www.democratsabroad.org/1301/generosity_on_the_ground_in_greece_part_2

 For part 3 - Lesvos: http://www.democratsabroad.org/1301/generosity_on_the_ground_in_greece_part_3

 For part 4 - Kos: http://www.democratsabroad.org/1301/generosity_on_the_ground_in_greece_part_4_kos


Generosity on the Ground in Greece part 4 Kos

For our fellow Dems Abroad who’ve asked how they can help here are some links to the groups on the front lines. This is the third of a five part series that began on Jan 11, 2016.  The series is divided up by the location of the services, so Lesvos volunteer organisations are found in the first 3 postings. The fourth posting is for Kos and the fifth one presents volunteer organisations in Athens and Piraeus.

By Stacey Harris-Papaioannou

staceymykonos@yahoo.com

Kos Solidarity

http://kos-solidarity.com/

The need for the Kos initiative was sparked by the arrival of refugees in boatloads in late spring of 2015. People were arriving from Bodrum in unseaworthy boats and dinghies in urgent need of food, water, tents, warm clothes and shoes, backpacks and help in establishing their legal status in order to travel safely by ferry to Piraeus. Kos Solidarity works in cooperation with other agencies like UNHCR and MSF etc. All the locals participate on a voluntary basis, daily and most have day jobs. Kos solidarity needs cash donations and volunteers.

info@kos-solidarity.com    +30 6946 085 065

Donations:   https://www.gofundme.com/mcgcu6rw

___________________________________________________________

Kos Refugees need your Help KRNYH

http://kosrefugeesneedyourhelp.com/ 

http://thecommunitykouzinaproject.com/2015/10/25/critical-nourishment-valerie-and-verena-founders-of-kos-refugees-need-your-help

Kos has been receiving daily arrivals of people mainly from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, who are in the process of making their way to Central Europe, to seek refuge. Generally, upon arrival in Kos, they begin the registration process (permitting there are no technical delays,) and refugees stay on the island for 3-4 days. Once they receive their registration papers, refugees continue their journey by ferry from the island. With the boat ride to Kos costing thousands of dollars, refugees often arrive with little money, and what they do have must last their entire journey. KRNYH offers daily distribution of hot meals (rice, vegetables, lentils) and bread/milk, provides for rooms for the vulnerable and distributes shoes and backpacks.

kosrefugees@gmail.com           communitykouzina@gmail.com

Donations: Epitopou e.V.   IBAN: DE 11370501981932915240   BIC: COLSDE33XXX   Sparkasse KölnBonn Address: Hahnenstrasse 57, 50667 Cologne, Germany

 For part 1 - Lesvos: http://www.democratsabroad.org/1301/generosity_on_the_ground_in_greece

 For part 2 - Lesvos: http://www.democratsabroad.org/1301/generosity_on_the_ground_in_greece_part_2

 For part 3 - Lesvos: http://www.democratsabroad.org/1301/generosity_on_the_ground_in_greece_part_3


Generosity on the Ground in Greece part 3

For our fellow Dems Abroad who’ve asked how they can help, links to the groups on the front lines. This is the third of a five part series that began on Jan 11, 2016.  The series is divided up by the location of the services, so Lesvos volunteer organisations are found in the first 3 postings. The fourth posting is for Kos and the fifth one presents volunteer organisations in Athens and Piraeus.

By Stacey Harris-Papaioannou

staceymykonos@yahoo.com

Lighthouse Relief Lesvos

http://www.lighthouserelief.org/

https://www.facebook.com/lighthouserelief/

They met in Skala Sikamineas on the northeastern coast of Lesvos in September 2015. This area suffers the highest influx of refugees per day yet lacks both sufficient infrastructure and financial resources.  None of the larger organizations are based here and help is urgently needed. These volunteers decided to start their own initiative. At present they provide hundreds of refugees everyday with emergency aid such as heated shelter, healthcare, clothes, food and water. The main priority is to protect the most vulnerable groups such as children, women and the elderly.

info@lighthouserelief.org                       medics@lighthouserelief.org

donations@lighthouserelief.org              volunteers@lighthouserelief.org

Donations:  Swedish bankgiro: 377-6507
International payments: IBAN SE2950000000054031040237BIC ESSESESS 

__________________________________________________________________

Helping Refugees Lesvos Island Skala Sykamineas 

https://www.facebook.com/Helping-refugees-Lesvos-island-Skala-Sykamineas--581610095340512/?fref=ts

In the village of Skala Sykaminea there are several thousands of refugees arriving every day, with a normal population of 300 locals in the summer and 50 in the winter. The village is working hard to help the refugees day and night and at the same time trying to maintain a normal life, which can seem impossible in those conditions. But they do, and still with a smile on their face and love to give. Without any government organizations, they are alone. Recently they have had help from private volunteers and smaller organizations who travel there to offer assistance.

Donations: Skala sykaminea Bank account  IBAN : GR5001104150000041563534522  BIC: ETHNGRAA

________________________________________________________________________________-

Lesvos Winter Proof

https://www.facebook.com/lesvoswinterproof/

Lesvos Winter Proof makes camp Moria in Lesvos ready for winter. Inspired by setting up major outdoor festivals, Lesvos Winter Proof fills the gap in terms of shelter, security, logistics, crowd management and production. This group of volunteers has experience in transforming open parking lots into tented rooms and collaborate as much as possible with small organizations.

lesvos@10000hours.nl

Donations:  NL93 RABO 0175271658 t.n.v. Foundation 10.000 HOURS and quoting Lesvos Winter Proof

_______________________________________________________________________________-

The Village of All Together

https://www.facebook.com/pikpalesvos/ 

The “Village of All Together” is a network of citizens, collectives, groups and other organizations in Lesbos with a common goal to act altogether. PIKPA is an open, self-organized refugee camp in Lesvos. They distribute food and clothes to the port, Kara Tepe and Moria This self-managed space has hosted more than 6.000 refugees, some for few days and others up to a year. The refugees include asylum and family unification applicants and/or vulnerable groups of newly arrived refugees e.g. people with disabilities, sick, pregnant etc. Food, clothing, medication, legal counsel and medical help as well as are offered.

Donations: ΙΒΑΝ: GR5301107620000076200126290 SWIFT (BIC) ETHNGRAA

_________________________________________________________________

Coexistence and Communication in the Aegean

SINIPARXI

https://www.facebook.com/groups/514654685298655/

It’s the eldest local group for the peaceful coexistence of Turks and Greeks on both sides of the Aegean. The main aim of “SINIPARXI”, as its name denotes, is the coexistence of different people, with different language, religion, ethnicity, culture, tradition, ideas. It is basically an antiracist organization, which deals with refugees and immigrants and with the development of friendly and peaceful relationships with the neighboring people.     

 For part 1: http://www.democratsabroad.org/1301/generosity_on_the_ground_in_greece

 For part 2: http://www.democratsabroad.org/1301/generosity_on_the_ground_in_greece_part_2


Generosity on the Ground in Greece part 2

For our fellow Dems Abroad who’ve asked how they can help here are some links to the groups on the front lines. This series began on Jan 11, 2016 and this is the  second of a five part series.  The series is divided up by the location of the services, so Lesvos volunteer organisations are found in the first 3 postings. The fourth posting is for Kos and the fifth one presents volunteer organisations in Athens and Piraeus.

By Stacey Harris-Papaioannou

staceymykonos@yahoo.com

Agalia in Kaloni

https://www.facebook.com/ /ΜΚΟ-Αγκαλιά   

On their way to Mytilini port, the refugees can find some help in the town of Kaloni thanks to the NGO AGALIA : rest, food, clothes, transportation and so much love from a small and wonderful team.  NGO Agalia Koloni, Lesvos GR 81107

+30 698 360 1223   mkoagkalia@hotmail.com

_________________________________________________________________

O Allos Anthropos (The Other Human) Community Kitchen 

http://oallosanthropos.blogspot.gr/

https://www.facebook.com/koinonikikouzinamjt

The impetus for O Allos Anthropos, a community kitchen, was an unemployed middle aged marketer, seeing all levels of humanity sorting through the discarded seconds at Athens farmers' markets in an effort to gather food that they could not afford to buy. Kostas Polichronopoulos could no longer watch children fighting for scraps of food in the streets of Athens.  Initially food was prepared in homes and distributed for free at the farmers' markets. Vendors donated products. Eventually the food was prepared and eaten communally to combat the shame of receiving a free meal. “We eat together and we live together; lunch with our fellow man on the street.”  The volunteer operation branched out beyond Athens and traveled to Lesvos in August to assist with the ever increasing numbers of refugees. The number of meals made daily has gone from 300 to 3000.

 

Plataion 55 & Paramythias    Metaxourgeio    GR10435 Athens                             

Athens +30 6940 882 355, Mytilini +30 6978 550 168

oallosanthropos@gmail.com 

Donations: EUROBANK   GR 60026 0294 0000 88020 0608548 EUROBANK SWIFT ERBKGRAA, Kostandinos Chronopoulos

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Proactiva Open Arms Lifeguard Beach Safety 

http://en.proactivaopenarms.org/

https://www.facebook.com/proactivaservice/

Proactiva Open Arms, a NGO from Barcelona, is a group of volunteer Spanish lifeguards, dedicated to saving lives in the sea. They came to Lesvos in September to assist the refugees that arrive on the Greek coast. They are also on Chios. They arrived in Lesvos with €15.000 from their own pockets, with no public funding. They began financing rescues for a month. With that budget they assisted in disembarking more than 20 boats per day, carrying 50 people each, including babies, kids and elderly people. In total thousands land on the beaches every day. 

Donation: ES53 0182 0262 910201668823 (SWIFT: BBVAESMMXXX)

___________________________________________________________

A Drop in the Ocean

http://drapenihavet.no/en/ 

The Norwegian volunteer group helps refugees as they arrive, including administering first aid and medical treatment. One of its volunteer nurses delivered a baby on the beach in mid-October.  There are also volunteers on the island of Chios and in Athens. A Drop in the Ocean runs its own camp for just-arrived refugees, particularly families with small children, where it provides food, tents and donated clothing.

Donations: Dråpen i havet     Account number: 1503 67 54327

BIC/SWIFT: DNBANOKKXXX        IBAN: NO3015036754327    DNB Bank ASA

______________________________________________________________

Boat Refugee Foundation

http://bootvluchteling.nl/en/

https://www.facebook.com/hulpactiebootvluchtelingen

This Dutch NGO assists refugees as they arrive on land with food, dry clothes and medical care in Lesvos, Leros, Kos and Athens. They provide emergency aid and supplies to boat refugees. They focus on the most vulnerable among them: pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children under age 9. As a foundation they work with UNHCR, Red Cross and local volunteers.

Stichting Bootvluchteling Postbus 214, 3890 AE Zeewolde info@bootvluchteling.nl 

Donations: IBAN-account number: NL97 RBRB  0918 9326 37

________________________________________________________

part one here: http://www.democratsabroad.org/1301/generosity_on_the_ground_in_greece


Generosity on the Ground in Greece

For our fellow Dems Abroad who’ve asked how they can help so here are some links to the groups on the front lines. This series began on Jan 11, 2016 this is the first of a five part series. The series is divided up by the location of the services, so Lesvos volunteer organisations are found in the first 3 postings, The fourth posting is for Kos and the fifth one presents volunteer organisations in Athens and Piraeus.

By Stacey Harris-Papaioannou

staceymykonos@yahoo.com

 

By Stacey Harris-Papaioannou

staceymykonos@yahoo.com

A sea of separatism between Europe and not-Europe is present in the 6 mile crossing from the Turkish coastline to the closest Greek border on the island of Lesvos. The human flood of refugees fills the channel daily. When weary travelers, soaked by the salty sea, seeking solace and safety, set foot on dry land, they find generosity on the ground in Greece. In the land that invented the notion of hospitality to foreigners, philoxenia, remains alive and well on the shores of Greece as more than a million asylum seekers have crossed into Europe in 2015.  From the islands in the Aegean to the port of Piraeus to the northern border town of Idomeni, taking care of these fragile travelers has been the incentive that has created more than a hundred groups of volunteers, large and small, to soften the harsh journey.  While European governments bicker acrimoniously about borders and migration, Greeks, weak from teetering on the precipice of economic collapse for more than 6 years, have opened arms, hearts and homes to men, women and children who can no longer live in their own countries.

Generosity is not an institution that is mandated. It grows from the hearts of the empathetic and the compassionate.  Ad hoc groups have sprung up throughout Greece and Europe to assist where governments have failed.  Their kindness and chutzpah have put them in the center of the human flood on the ground in Greece transforming their generosity of spirit into dry clothing, good walking shoes, a warm meal, a back-pack of basic toiletries, warm gloves, on-line and printed guides to help lead the asylum seekers to being properly registered and vetted. Who are these extraordinary groups and what are they doing and how can we support them?

Sensitive souls instinctively feel a call to action. What can be done to help? The majority of these groups are requesting monetary donations at the present time and able volunteers. At the present moment gathering used products-clothing, baby apparatus, etc-to be shipped makes no sense.  There is certainly not the manpower to sort it or facilities to store it. It is much better to make a financial contribution, giving the volunteer organizations the ability to purchase supplies locally. They infuse the Greek economy and they buy what is actually needed as it is needed.

And for those who are considering giving of themselves on the front line, a qualified volunteer means several things; having language capabilities, enduring long days of physically demanding work in all kinds of weather, having a useful skill, working effectively as a team member and being self financing.

Listed below are a few of these amazing groups, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), that have banded together to support refugees.

These will be coming out here in batches. 

 On The Islands: Lesvos, Kos

For our fellow Dems Abroad who’ve asked how they can help, links to the groups on the front lines.

Help for Refugees in Molyvos

http://www.asterias-starfish.org/en/  https://www.facebook.com/HelpForRefugeesInMolyvos/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/informationpointforlesvosvolunteers/?fref=nf

Founded by Melinda McRostie, the owner of Captain’s Table restaurant in Molyvos, Starfish hands out food and clothing to refugees and helps refugees with logistics at transit camps. Starfish began in 2014 as a collection of local individuals and international volunteers working together to support refugees arriving in Molyvos. Starfish has grown ever since and registered as an NGO in October 2015. Refugees arriving on the island receive a warm welcome, food, water, dry clothes, shelter, information and access to medical support. They also support refugees to access transport to Mytilene where they can access papers for onward travel. 

molyvosrefugees@gmail.com

Hellenic Post Office of Kalloni,   C/O Starfish Foundation  81107 Kalloni, Lesvos GREECE

Donations: IBAN: GR4001104070000040700115500  BIC: ETHNGRAA   ASTERIAS
National bank of Greece    Mythymna Makres, Mythymna 81108 Lesvos

 

Dirty Girls Lesvos

https://www.facebook.com/dirtygirlslesvos/?fref=ts

When the refugees arrive on Lesvos in unstable, overcrowded boats, they are drenched with sea water. They are given new clothes and their perfectly good, but wet clothes, are discarded and have mostly been trashed, therefore adding to the environmental problems of landfill on Lesvos.  Dirty Girls of Lesvos collect the clothes which are laundered commercially. They are sorted and distributed so that they can be reused.  The project can cost up to €800 per day on laundering the clothes that refugees have to discard when they arrive wet from their dangerous boat trip from Turkey. 
€100 will mean that 150 warm jackets for children can be collected, washed and redistributed to keep 150 children warm as the weather is cold during the day and very cold at night.
€40 will mean that 100 people will have clean dry socks to exchange for their wet socks.

https://www.youcaring.com/cold-hungry-and-wet-syrian-refugees-many-young-children-449591/donate#pp

 

Part 2 to follow..


New Years Message 2016

Thanks to The Athens Centre for this photo

Looking back and looking forward -  January, the month named for the two-faced god who looked both back and ahead. 

2016: Stress Not! Only Do!

For many DAGR members, 2015 has been difficult year though it promised much. For others, it has been worrisome, depressing. For our host country, Greece, the year that’s just ended has given rise to great efforts as well as deep disappointment when results were less than hoped for.

And yet, faced with the massive influx of conflict and economic refugees -- the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent decades – Greeks rose to the challenge with compassion and determination that has impressed the world. Many of our Democrats Abroad members have been directly involved in this rescue effort.

Today, we begin a new year and we return some of our attention to the crucial US elections ahead. The Republican candidates, so far, have been farcical at best. The Democrat race, the pundits have assured us, is no race. It’s a done deal. Stay home; don’t bother!

But here, on the frontlines of human misery, we know better. We know that the presidential candidate and his or her policies will impact lives and fortunes all over the world. We know that control of Congress is crucial to carrying on a sane, restorative platform. We know that winning races at the state level can mean the difference between enfranchised voters or a new Jim Crow.

DAGR has been preparing for the struggle ahead. Our monthly Newsletter goes scrolling – easier now for mobile devices -- on the new DA website at www.democratsabroad.org. Articles linking local concerns to stateside and global issues will be posted as they break and linked to our Facebook and Twitter activity.

Throughout January, our phone volunteers will be calling every DAGR member. We’ll remind you that Americans abroad now have to register to vote every year. Do it now!

The call verifies our members as eligible to vote in the Global Presidential Primary (on March 6 here in Greece). The membership count also determines DA strength at the Democratic National Convention in July and amplifies our voice with elected officials.

After March, we march on … to November. There is much to do and we urge you to get involved. Volunteer or contribute to support the effort. Get back in touch with like-minded friends and help make 2016 a year that changes the course of history. For the better!

With warmest wishes for the New Year,

Karen Lee and Steve Medeiros

DAGR Chair and Vice Chair, 2015-17