Thursday, October 27, 2016

If Everyone Does Their Part...

If Everyone Does Their Part...

I am in Greece volunteering at the Oinofyta (In-o-fee-ta) Refugee Camp.  This camp, which is serving over 600 Afghan refugees,  is managed by Do Your Part, a small 501(c ) non-profit based in the U.S.  Do Your Part is founded on the belief that if everyone does their part, together, we can solve many of the world's problems. Every penny they receive in donations goes directly to provide for the people they serve, not to administrative overhead.  I will be writing more about my experience here, but while I am in the middle of it, it's hard to take it all in and process.    So, I'm here on the ground doing my part.  Here's a small story about what I've done.

Yesterday I spent some of the money my friends gave me to help the refugees.  I bought special formula prescribed by the doctor for a premature baby who needed supplementary feeding in addition to breast feeding.  The baby had spent one month in an incubator in the hospital and is now “home” with his entire family in one 3m X 3.5m room inside an old factory.

When I took the formula to the mother, she was in the room with the baby and two older sons.  She invited my Afghan translator and me inside and offered us tea.  I held the tiny baby swaddled tightly in a pink blanket and accepted the hospitality of a family who has almost nothing, but safety and each other.

I went back to the office with a smile on my face…who doesn’t like cuddling new babies!  I felt good about being able to spend donated money to directly help a real child.    In the office I learned a little more about the family.  The family had another son.  One of the sons I met today, Ismael, was playing with his little brother in a wheelbarrow.  They ran over an IED and the older brother was blown to pieces.  Ismael gathered up the pieces of his little brother and took them home to his mother. 

There are so many stories in the camp.  Some families left Afghanistan because their lives were in danger, some left for economic reasons, and some left because they don’t want to pick up the pieces of their children when they are blown up.

The Oinofyta Refugee Camp is a community, really not that different than any other community.  It’s made up of both the well-educated and the not educated.  There are lazy people and people who complain, but there are more people working to make their lives better and serving their community. 

It is not depressing here, but sometimes I hear their stories and find it hard to be hopeful. I wish we did more.


  1. Oh Jann! What a heartbreaking discovery to make! Thank you for doing what you can while you are there. Your presence is a treasure, an exquisite gift. Sending love as you continue making a difference where you are so needed.

  2. Your contribution is doubled through your sharing here. Sending you love.

  3. Payin' it forward.
    We need that more than ever today.

  4. Thank you for this post, Jann. I've been wondering how it is there. I don't think I could go there and not take it all back with me forever. :-(

  5. Jann, I have tears in my eyes as I read of you holding the new baby and using the donated money to buy formula. Then, I read of how this family has suffered more than any of us can imagine. You are my hero because you stepped up to do your part. I am so very proud to call you my friend. The processing of it all when you get home will no doubt take a very long time. I really wish I could go over too. It is good to know that such organizations exit and that you are working to bring hope and comfort to this situation that seems so hopeless. Hugs and love.

    1. That is fantastic of you and the other folks who are helping these people. You are most definitely heroes...


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