At this time of year although people traditionally enjoy familiy celebrations, it is a particularly difficult time for the poor, lonely, sick and oppressed. And this year, the on-going economic austerity in Greece has been further aggravated by the plight of so many people desperately fleeing to Europe in search of a better future for their families.
Although even here in Mani, there is some hardship, people have been giving generously of their time, money, and supplies, to support initiatives for local people in need. Most recently, Gaia and other local volunteers, have prepared '...... 56 gifts of love with food, gifts and essentials for families of our community..... '. (and more on the way), and '.... 50 gifts for the special school in Kalamata...'
The people from beyond these shores are also being helped, with fundraising events, and donations. Gaia and the Solidarity Clinic in Kalamata have representatives on a comittee for refugees, that has been collecting and arranging distribution of supplies for refugees in the less publicised islands and areas, where there are few facilities for the arrivals.
A few days ago, a large consignment of food and basic necessities for delivery to refugees in Tilos, Kos and Samos, was assembled at the Gaia Base, from supplies in their welfare store and recent donations.
Preparation of 56 gifts of love with food, gifts and essentials for families in our community
50gifts for the special school in Kalamata
Supplies for refugees in Tilos, Kos and Samos
Message from Claire Peach:-
I have had several people asking how they could help, during these difficult times for Greece, and following a conversation with Christina Constantios (Gaia) I have prepared these notes:-
(Update November - while the need to bring cash is less important and there are no shortages, many of the points still apply!)
For people about to come to Greece:-
• Bring lots of cash - euros or other currency.
• If you have friends/relatives here, ask if they need any non-Greek products or cash that you could bring with you.
• We have a strong community here, and there is always help available in case of emergency, but bring spares of regular medication. If you don't need it before you leave, pharmaceutical donations to Gaia would be very welcome for the welfare store.
Residents and visitors:-
• Everything is running more or less normally, at the moment, so SPEND YOUR MONEY and enjoy Greece!
• Where possible, buy Greek products
• There are some cut-backs - for instance, less frequent rubbish collection, because the trucks need to conserve fuel, and it is difficult for contractors to get money, so do all you can to REDUCE rubbish and waste
► DON'T buy more food than you need
► COMPOST organic waste, and if you have nowhere to compost, scatter organic waste, including MEAT and FISH, in the olive groves or in the gorges, away from habitation - it will soon get eaten or decompose.
► Reduce the BULK of things that can be recycled- flatten boxes, squash cans and bottles
• If you have spare food, toiletries, cleaning products, medicines, disposables (eg spare toilet rolls, diapers), when leaving Greece, don't throw them away, give to someone (eg neighbour, or to Gaia for their welfare store)
• Donate food, toiletries etc to the Gaia/Dimos Welfare group through the collecting baskets in Katerina's supermarket Stoupa or the 2407 Mountain Activities store in Kardamyli , or things can be taken to the Gaia Base in Ag Nikolaos. There is usually someone there after 15:00
• Donate cash to Gaia - collecting box at Patriko Cafe/bar Stoupa or donations can be given to Giannis at 2407 Kardamyli. No donation is too small - loose change, or a fiver, can be used for welfare supplies
For absent property owners/anyone who cares about W Mani, but not currently in Mani:-
• Post donations of non-perishable food, toiletries, medicines, toys, games etc to Christina Constantios(President of Gaia) at Patriko, Stoupa 24024, Greece
• While there are restrictions on the banks DO NOT TRANSFER MONEY to Gaia's bank account, as it is difficult for them to get cash out.
(Also note : Currently, Western Union are not allowing any CASH transfers INTO Greece. They ARE allowing transfers into bank accounts, but then there is the problem of getting the money out of the bank!)
• Tell friends who are visiting Mani, to TAKE EXTRA MONEY /SUPPLIES with them.
• If you don't know anyone coming to Mani, but want make a donation, email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of where you are, and I can put a note on the website, asking if anyone is coming from nearby. A lot of regular visitors to Mani, could be trusted to help.