At the end of their third day in Greece, Anne Browse (President of Methodist Women in Britain) and Judith Morris (General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Wales) reflected on their evening spent in the home of Father Malcolm and Olga Bradshaw meeting women from organisations affiliated with Churches Together with Refugees in Athens including Apostoli, Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse.
[Judith] “I have to admit that when I went there this evening – we’re coming to the end of the trip – and there was a sense of information overload, and having seen a lot and travelled quite a bit, that again you were just absolutely astounded by the scale of the problem and the amount of work that the Greek people are doing in responding to the needs of the refugees.” [Anne] “Listening to stories of how things are at the moment for the refugees, we were struck by the passion with which these women worked to try to make things better in this really difficult situation.”
They met a lawyer who offers legal aid to refugees, helping to reunite families and met Sharon (from Southampton) who works with Samaritan’s Purse and had been in the Samos camp that the CTBI group had been unable to enter on their first day but had seen from the outside.
“Again it was hearing stories of people responding to the very urgent situations that they find.”
Anne and Judith spoke of organisations working with younger women who were being trafficked, and women whose babies seemed to have gone missing. Judith explained:
“They emphasised that the trafficking and smuggling people isn’t only a problem now but was a problem previously. Someone said this evening that Athens is the paradise of trafficking and smugglers.”
The issue of unaccompanied minors was raised, particularly young men between the ages of eleven and eighteen. For Anne it hit home as she thought about “the very idea of one of my children being completely on their own in a country where they didn’t know the culture and they didn’t know the language”.
“That seems to me to be a really important piece of work that’s being done. Of course the fear is that there are far more unaccompanied minors than are known about at the moment.”
Photos: Esme Allen