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Newsletter 06/09/2016 – We’ve Done IT!!!! – Housing Project

WE HAVE DONE IT!!!

Finally after months of work, preparation, negotiation, form filling and banging our heads against the Greek bureaucratic system we have done it! In conjunction with Filoxenia (our sister Greek organisation) we have 10 brand new sparkly gorgeous apartments with social spaces signed and sealed for this first independent housing project here in Thessaloniki!

This is an epic moment for Theo and I (Luck of Birth) our journey since February this year has been fraught with feeling ineffective and feeling swamped by the enormity of the problems faced by the community stranded here in Greece. Many times we have talked about abandoning the cause, feeling how can we ever get through the Greek red tape? How can we ever make any difference to the thousands of people we witness suffering every day while hidden away in camps?

But a wonderful thing has happened we have these apartments, we have 10 and there is huge scope to increase this number. We will be starting right now, to do something amazing for some of these people.

With grateful thanks to Help Refugees, Refugee Start and other private donors these apartments are secured and we can begin the process of moving the most vulnerable cases on our very long case list into safe, dry, warm homes.

We have been through extensive planning and discussing with colleagues and other collaborators to ensure we provide the best possible support we can for those we can help to regain their dignity and comfort.

Community

We will have a social space which we will use to create a “free shop” – a place where everything that is normally handed out to people in queues can be personally chosen by each member of the community according to their tastes – simple human dignity. This shop will also contain dry and fresh food – each family group will have to ability to choose what they eat.  No money will be involved but we will work on a “credit” system to ensure every member of the community is provided for.

We will also have a social cafe which will be a place to relax together, drink coffee (eat cake!) for the children to play, for simple classes/group activities to take place and in the evening sometimes social gatherings or movie nights – huge scope and lots of plans.

We intend to use the social cafe space to welcome the local Greek community too – there are lots of mums living in this area and I am sure they would love the chance of a safe play space with coffee and cake!

We intend to extend our services to include a learning centre – with activities aimed at all ages – the Greek government is implementing a plan to provide school places for all those stranded here so we will not need a school as such but we do want to offer opportunities for learning and social integration.

The inspirational MSF are opening a clinic locally to us so we will be able to access their services for medical needs and we will have 24 hour accessible transport to the hospital or doctors if required. There will be a 24 hour presence at the building to ensure there is always someone on hand if anyone needs anything.

Living Room space of one new apartment – bit grubby here from building works will be spotless soon…. Door out onto balcony…
Homes.

All of these services are essential to the integration, support and community of the project but the most important thing of all is that each family group will have their own home, their own front door to close, their own kitchen to cook in, their own bathroom, their own washing machine, their own balcony, their own bed.

Stop for a moment and consider that for most of these people it has been many months and for many of them years since they last had this very simple thing – a home.

Can you imagine this? I can’t, I really can’t, I can imagine a little but it is unreal and seems so unlikely to happen. I can shy away from the discomfort of it…… Most of those we help here have no home except a tent and have no home left to return to.

I have been missing the UK living here in Thessaloniki but I know I can go home anytime I like, smell the flowers, get muddy and cold, pick the blackberries and make a crumble. It will be the same. Lucky, lucky me.

This is our global collective moment to offer that peace and security back to another person, to another family who so desperately, really desperately need it. I cannot think of any greater gift than a home – sure world peace would be amazing but right here and now I think a door to close and a bed to sleep in is a really, really great gift.

I am so proud that we can begin to offer it, the group of people we have worked alongside here are incredible, it has been really truly hard for us all emotionally but we have pulled together and now we are going to finally get to do what we all set out to do.

I am writing to give you this chance too, stand with us. Tell everyone you meet about this project, it’s good news! I really believe that together we can make a difference.

Kindness and Compassion in action!

Every single penny you are able to give or raise will go to homes, furnishing homes, feeding people, teaching people, supporting people, providing clothes, providing bedlinen, or forks or toasters or kettles…. Homes. YIPPEE!!!!!!!

Help us help – Donate, Fundraise, Spread the word, Volunteer!

Get in touch if you have any ideas or want to help in any way – direct email is luckofbirth@gmail.com

Loads more information will soon be available at www.luckofbirth.org

Please forward this newsletter to anyone who might be interested – the more people we reach the bigger and more stable the project can become.

So much love to you all and thank you so much for reading, sharing and supporting us on this journey.

Sam & Theo

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