Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece

by Lighthouse Relief
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
Help LHR Continue its Vital Programming in Greece
LHR volunteers during spotting training
LHR volunteers during spotting training

On the island of Lesvos and in Ritsona Camp on the mainland of Greece, the need for a dignified humanitarian response is greater than ever. Through the winter of 2019, and in the first month of 2020, our teams across Greece have been hard at work responding to increased needs for emergency aid and psychosocial support.

Over the course of 2019, our teams on Lesvos assisted 14,531 people arriving - more than double the number of people whom we supported last year. Half of those arriving were under the age of 18, with 948 making the dangerous journey on their own. Throughout this busy year, our team led 365 operations and our spotting volunteers identified 125 boats arriving to the north shore, enabling a fast and efficient response from our landing team. When our teams are not responding to landings or on spotting shifts, they engage in regular trainings to ensure that they are prepared. In addition to spotting and landing training, volunteers also engage in specialised workshops such as throwline training, or we join our friends at Refugee Rescue for trainings on spotting or transporting potentially injured people from a landed boat to a safe place.

Although the cold, rain and rough seas during the winter make the crossing more perilous, people continue to flee. In the first month of 2020 our teams have provided a warm welcome to 834 people. We have also had to contend with the difficult possibility of the closure of Stage 2 transit facility, a key point at which new arrivals receive shelter and vital assistance upon arrival, before being transferred to Moria Camp. In the face of these challenges, our teams are determined to continue providing emergency support to people fleeing conflict and persecution and are always ready adapt our operations given the ever-changing circumstances. 

Meanwhile, on the mainland, Ritsona Camp has received over 1,500 new residents, many transferred from Moria Camp on Lesvos, and Vathy Camp on Samos. Among them, there are 700-800 children who will not be able to access formal education until the autumn of 2020. As they wait for the next step of their asylum procedures, it is more important than ever to offer them the opportunity to participate in psychosocial activities. Today, our numbers in Ritsona are higher than ever - our Child Friendly Space is welcoming over 100 children to programming everyday, while the Youth Engagement Space is welcoming over 135 people every day. Our CFS team is adapting their programming to ensure that we can respond to these increased needs, offering activities such as crafts, including watercolouring, drawing and structured play. 

Through the winter, we have continued to offer a plethora of workshops in the Youth Engagement Space, a drop-in center for youth as well as a place for structured activities. In December, we co-led photography and videography workshops with talented youth in the space, including a photography workshop led by a resident and skilled photographer from Afrin, Syria. We also continued to elevate the voices of the talented youth who use the space, creating a video rendition of - "Stateless," a poem by Adnan Hassan, which powerfully captures the experience of displacement that touches millions of lives worldwide. Now, with increased numbers in the YES, we are offering a wide range of language workshops and skills workshops, ensuring that we have a diverse range of options to offer the growing population of the camp. 

As we look toward the New Year, it is clear that we face many challenges ahead. Thanks to your support, Lighthouse Relief has a strong and prepared team to carry our work forward through these challenges, and to ensure that we are an unwavering source of support for people arriving in search of safety, and for those waiting in limbo on the Mainland. 

LHR's CFS Manager leads activities in Ritsona
LHR's CFS Manager leads activities in Ritsona
LHR volunteers organising donations on Lesvos
LHR volunteers organising donations on Lesvos
LHR's emergency response team during a landing
LHR's emergency response team during a landing
The Youth Engagement Space in Ritsona Camp
The Youth Engagement Space in Ritsona Camp
Holiday crafts in the Child Friendly Space
Holiday crafts in the Child Friendly Space

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LHR's Emergency Response Coordinator on Lesvos
LHR's Emergency Response Coordinator on Lesvos

Over the past three months, Lighthouse Relief has faced one of the busiest periods in over three years. Thanks to your generosity, we have been able to rise to the occasion, providing immediate emergency response to increased numbers of people arriving on the shores of Lesvos, while ensuring that residents of Ritsona Refugee Camp can access psychosocial support while awaiting the next steps of their asylum procedures.

So far in 2019, Lighthouse Relief has supported over 10,000 people arriving to the shores of Lesvos. This represents a marked increase from previous years - in 2017, we supported 4,300 people, while in 2018, we supported 7,000. As the last remaining organisation on Lesvos with a land-based emergency response crew, our teams of dedicated volutneers are on call 24/7 to assist incoming boats on the shoreline, and in Stage 2 Transit Camp, while monitoring the seas for boats approaching the shoreline 21 hours a day.

Over the past months, arrivals to Lesvos were at the highest point since the signing of the EU-Turkey Deal in 2016, reflecting the continued lack of safe passage for those fleeing from conflict, strife and persecution. From the beginning of August to now, we have assisted in 172 operations, and supported over 7,750 people, nearly half of whom were under 18. On August 29, our team faced an exceptionally busy day, when 13 dinghies landed almost simultaneously on a narrow stretch of beach. We worked with our partners on the water, Refugee Rescue, to ensure that people could safely disembark, and provided dry clothes and a warm welcome at Stage 2 transit camp.

Although temperatures have started to dip since then, people are still making the perilous crossing to Lesvos. On the first day of November alone, our Emergency Response team on Lesvos supported 252 new arrivals, over 50% of whom were children. Over the past month, we have partnered with a medical aid NGO on Lesvos to ensure that a medical volunteer accompanies our landing team, enabling us to rapidly respond to medical cases on arrival. This is especially crucial now, as the cold weather brings with it higher risks of hypothermia.

At the end of September, we also wrapped up our ECO Relief program for the year. Since July, Lighthouse Relief's ECO warriors were responsible for cleaning 67 dinghies, and collecting 1,141 lifejackets. We are committed to restoring the beautiful beaches of Lesvos and supporting the local community, which has shown us immense hospitality in the four years that we have been in Skala Sikamineas.

Meanwhile, in Central Greece, Ritsona Refugee Camp continues to expand, and we are seeing new faces in our Child Friendly Space and our Youth Engagement Space everyday.

The Youth Engagement Space is a hub of creativity, a safe place where young residents can express themselves through art, conversation and writing. In September, Lighthouse Relief was proud to present the ninth edition of the Ritsona Kingdom Journal, full of artwork, poetry and prose by the talented young residents of Ritsona, which you can peruse in its entirety on Narratio. Several talented actors in the camp also worked with one of our skilled volunteers to create two short films, including "A Dream," a film that touches on our shared humanity, and the universal language of dreams.

Throughout the past months, with the help of our volunteers, we were also able to provide German and English lessons, and yoga classes. We continued to host art workshops in the Youth Engagement Space, even incorporating pottery work and portrait drawing into the ever-popular sessions. 

Our Child Friendly Space has been busier than ever - our CFS team's imaginative weekly themes spark the curiosity and sense of wonder of the camp's youngest residents, while also allowing them to build on their resilience and strength. Throughout the past months, a daily average of 50 - 60 children have attended programming in the CFS, and have engaged in activities around such themes as "Music" and "Family." Skilled volunteers, including numerous Resident Volunteers, have truly been essential to these activities in both spaces, and we are very grateful to them for their support. 

Our team in Central Greece also welcomed a new addition - our Sports Facilitor, who has been instrumental in leading sports activities for children and youth, including football in collaboration with a local Greek coach, basketball, badminton, tennis, volleyball, and more. 

Over four years after we joined forces on Lesvos, over 96,500 people remain in Greece, in limbo. As the winter months approach, we are committed to providing a warm welcome that extends from the shoreline to the mainland. You have helped us come closer and closer to our goal in this campaign, and your support has truly empowered our teams to grow, strengthen programming, and to build capacity. 

From the entire team at Lighthouse Relief, thank you!  

LHR's Child Friendly Space in Ritsona Camp
LHR's Child Friendly Space in Ritsona Camp
Music week in LHR's Child Friendly Space
Music week in LHR's Child Friendly Space
Emergency Response on Lesvos
Emergency Response on Lesvos
Coordinating safe & fast assistance for arrivals
Coordinating safe & fast assistance for arrivals
Inside the YES Art Workshop
Inside the YES Art Workshop

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Our team at Lighthouse Relief would like to thank all who have donated to help us raise over $20,000 on GlobalGiving! Your generosity has enabled the LHR team on Lesvos and in Ritsona refugee camp to continue providing essential support services over the summer months with the help of our dedicated volunteers.

Since the start of 2019, the Lighthouse Relief emergency response team on the north shore of Lesvos has supported 2,970 new arrivals in over 70 separate operations. With warmer temperatures and calmer seas, there has been an influx of boats and suspected smuggler vessels which has made July our busiest month in the north of the island since early 2016. Our spotting points at Lepetimnos and cape Korakas have played a vital role, spotting 11 crossings to the north shore last month. This allows for the 'Mo Chara' search and rescue vessel as well as authority vessels to conduct safe interceptions on the water. Meanwhile, our landing team is quick to respond once notification has been sent by our spotters, and are on scene to provide basic humanitarian aid.

Our team of volunteers have been undergoing constant training to adapt their skillset to a new set of challenges due to the changing weather, as many new arrivals suffer from dehydration and heat stroke. We have also been leading improvements in both of our transit facilities to ensure they are fully equipped and stocked with clothes suitable for temperatures above 30 degrees.

On mainland Greece, the Lighthouse Relief team in Ritsona refugee camp have been providing residents with the opportunity to attend a variety of new workshops and creative projects in both the CFS and YES spaces. In June, with guidance from a LHR volunteer, a group of youths were involved in a short film project which encouraged them to use their imagination while learning about the art of filmmaking. Visit our Facebook page to watch the video!

The LHR facilities hosted a range of activities to mark the end of Ramadan and the conclusion of the school year. Both youth and their parents to join celebrations arranged by our staff and resident volunteers. Children in our CFS also enjoyed performances from Clowns Without Borders and the Flying Seagull Project, who entertained the audience with a series of plays and dances which led to laughter and singing from all involved.

The 9th edition of the Ritsona Kingdom Journal is well underway, with residents contributing artwork, photos and writing which will be published in the magazine at the end of the month. The RKJ is an opportunity for the youth of Ritsona to demonstrate their creativity and resilience and is made possible through donations we receive from our fundraisers on GlobalGiving.

On Lesvos and in Ritsona, your generous donations have enabled us to continue supporting those seeking a safe haven in Europe. As summer brings more challenges for our team, we need your support to ensure we can continue with improvements and remain fully equipped to provide our vital programming in Greece.

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LHR football lessons
LHR football lessons

The team at LHR would like to extend its deepest thanks to all those who have helped us raise over half our target on the new GlobalGiving campaign. We are constantly in awe of the support you provide to our programmes year round, in and out of the field. We quite literally couldn’t do it without you: thanks to your generous contributions, we have been able to continue our vital operations and make plans for the summer – always a busy time for LHR.

So far this year, our team on the north shore of Lesvos has faced a number of challenging circumstances, largely due to the harsh weather conditions that affected the region over the winter months. In February, a young girl tragically went missing and was later confirmed dead when a boat encountered difficulties as it approached a rocky patch of coast in the northeast of Lesvos. Just last week, five children died in a shipwreck off the Turkish coast. 

These events remind us of the importance of our presence on the island and the need to guarantee safe passage into Europe for those seeking refuge. Our Emergency Response team has assisted 1,500 new arrivals so far this year, and our spotters have identified 19 boats, which have been intercepted and safely transferred to port. We can't stop now.  

Ritsona camp houses almost 900 refugees from many different countries, and its population is set to increase dramatically over the next 6 months, with many new living quarters being installed. Since the end of last year, we have expanded our activities to include a structured sports programme for groups ranging from 6 to 18, who take part in football and tennis lessons and youth-led volleyball tournaments.

Lighthouse Relief’s CFS currently welcomes between 50 and 60 children per day, and an average of 80 unique beneficiaries each week. The YES, which a year ago saw around 15 young people attend daily, has seen numbers soaring to around 80-100 per day.

In March, our volunteers helped girls aged 12 to 16 as they worked hard to create new decorations for their dedicated ISOBox. Every day, these young women come to sit in the colourful space or play outside, finding time to be creative, chat with their friends, play badminton or attend workshops.

Across our programming, your support has allowed us to successfully consolidate our staff teams and achieve the financial stability necessary to continue our operations. Now we are looking to go further, making improvements and expanding to ensure that we are providing our vital services to the highest possible standard. With your help, we can meet this challenge!

Stage 2 distribution
Stage 2 distribution
LHR Lesvos landing
LHR Lesvos landing
Resident Volunteer Adnan poem
Resident Volunteer Adnan poem
CFS Flying Seagull visit
CFS Flying Seagull visit
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Organization Information

Lighthouse Relief

Location: Solna - Sweden
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @LighthouseRR
Project Leader:
Marie-Hélène Rousseau
Solna, Sweden
$54,864 raised of $60,000 goal
 
911 donations
$5,136 to go
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