Last month Lilian Hollidge explained the background to the Moria Foundation Detention Centre. This month Lillian shares some details of what her volunteering sessions involve.
I was met at the airport by Volunteer, Fatos. The Sultana Foundation had arranged for me to share her traditional old Greek home in Mytilini Port for 2 weeks.
I was volunteering with the Sultana Foundation, along with other volunteers and refugees preparing vegetables and cooking hot, nutritional meals for women and children from the Moria Detention centre. We also collected and sorted through clothing donations ready to share with our visitors from the Moria Detention Centre.
Shafique Azam drove us to the Moria site and up past the enclosed Detention Centre, into the olive groves on the hillside – to an area named ‘Tent City’. We left the car and walked across the very dry, rocky terrain clustered with newly fruiting olive trees – 32 degrees in the sun – amid brown grasses and ‘structures’ covered in tarpaulin or fabric.
We had purchased, from the warehouse next door to the site, quantities of yeast, flour, salt and oil, which we then shared between 5 teams of 2 refugee women from different countries with one common goal; to prepare and bake as much fresh bread – Roti, Khubz and Nan – as they could in tandoors under the ground, designed by Azam and constructed by a skilful refugee. These would then be shared with other registered women with 3 or more children but no husband.
These 10 bakers bake approximately 50 breads each day – sharing 25 with their own families and the other 25 are shared with other registered women with 3 or more children living on their own, throughout the Moria Detention Centre and the “Tent City” areas.
R and F, both refugees living in the olive groves area, had been assisting Azam to meet with registered women and children in a lay-by on the periphery of Moria, prior to and during Ramadan, to help families to stay healthy during the long hours of fasting.
Every day refugees join a ‘Food Line’ provided by the Moria Centre Management to receive some basic cooked food, Usually, people congregate and chat in the lengthy queues of up to 50 degrees for about 2 hours, waiting their turns in the extremely hot summer months, or the bitterly cold winter months. Men who have a family will collect the food for themselves and their families. Women without a husband must wait in the line with their children. Conditions are very difficult.