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As many of you will be aware on the 21st December there was a fire at one of the main warehouses in Samos, details of the upcoming convoy are below, however before we detail these i would like to pass on a personal message and a tribute from Charles Storer MBE, Co-Founder and Head of Operations.

The Greek Island of Samos, as with many of the other Greek Islands close to Turkey, is struggling with a massive influx of boat refugees. The report here (https://rsaegean.org/en/refugees-trapped-on-samos/) says it all!

One of our Hope and Aid Direct trustees , Steve Walsh has gone out to lend support and has commented…

“The more I see here, the more angry I become. Millions of Euros are being poured into security, such as Frontex, Police, Army etc. Seemingly nothing at all is being spent on humanitarian care. The Political objective is to keep the refugees out, and if they do arrive, make them wish that they hadn’t!”

The international leaders of our world, and in this context specifically in Europe, should be ashamed of their inhumane treatment of refugees; ordinary people, who through no fault of their own, have had their lives turned completely upside down, suffered unbearable pain or loss, fled for the international safety of asylum, and now are being treated worse than we look after our animals. Remember the Kindertransport?

My parents both remember it, as if it was yesterday. They were proud that Britain, rightly congratulated itself for taking in and saving the lives of 10,000 children. Our UK response now to the global refugee crisis, and especially to the desperation of children, is shameful and wholly unacceptable, on a scale that is impossible to describe harshly enough.

My mother, Margaret Storer, who was aged 98, died on 23rd December 2019. She is now at peace. For many years, she worried, and continually wanted to know who would look after refugee children, and orphans? If any UK Politician is reading this, and willing to call me and tell me the answer to this question, or better still ask for the benefit of my experience, I would dearly love to receive that call.

Meanwhile, in loving memory of my mother who gave her entire adult life to the Red Cross, and to helping others, and was my inspiration, as is my Father still, this latest emergency delivery of aid to Samos is in her memory. May she rest in peace.

Charles Storer MBE

A huge amount of much needed aid was destroyed by the fire and it has taken some time to check what is needed and how to operate moving forward.

Many of the HaAD sleeping mats, sleeping bags and tents had been removed previously and have been distributed.

Steve Walsh, a Hope and Aid Direct trustee is currently out in Samos working with Omar who founded and runs Refugee for Refugees.  R4R has about 20 international volunteers currently on Samos and a lot more in Lesvos from all over the world. They distribute aid to 100’s of refugees every day.

Following on from Steve’s evaluation of the situation there we have been called upon for some immediate aid assistance, particularly for children’s clothes.  There are many children there of all ages that do not have the correct clothing or footwear and given that the refugee numbers are now up to 8000 on the island we have needed to respond.   

Next week Hope and Aid Direct will be driving a 40 tonne truck and Frantic, one of the 7.5 tonne vehicles full of the necessary aid down to Greece to meet up with Steve and Omar and provide them with many of the items that they require.  We must give our thanks to Dennis, Shaun and Brian who will be doing the driving.  A 3 week round trip at the drop of a hat takes some commitment and a whole bunch of thanks must go out to them!

We are fortunate enough that we have a lot of the items required to make this delivery in stores however, certain additional items have been procured over the past 48 hours and again thanks goes out to RAFT, MerseyAid and GRACE who have all contributed to the load, alongside a lot of aid provided by Sandra Tudor and a collection that is being made from the Congleton warehouse team on Saturday morning.

In addition to the aforementioned clothes which are very needed, we are also transporting bedding, blankets, fleece throws, carry cots and a variety of toiletries.  The aim of course is to ensure that the essentials are re-stocked quickly and then that this aid can be distributed quickly to those most in need of these items.

We cannot receive any further aid for this trip, but more is of course needed for future trips. BUT WE DO NEED YOUR HELP……

This unexpected journey will cost roughly £8000.  Please, any donations that you can afford can be made from this page: https://www.hopeandaiddirect.org.uk/appeal/samos-warehouse

Please share this on social media and let’s try and get these much needed funds.

A few days before the convoy arrived in Samos, Omar and the Refugee4Refugees team did a distribution of bags and toiletries to 550 children in memory of Margaret Storer who passed away just before Christmas.  

A few photos below. 

26TH JANUARY 2020 - DAY 1

The team are heading off to Samos today. 

Here is a brief introduction from Chas as they leave Ingatestone, heading down to meet up with the big rig!

The trucks have all met up and have had one of the radios fixed by Ian from the Maidstone amateur radio club.

An introduction to the drivers that have given up 3 weeks of thier time to get this aid down to Samos for Hope and Aid Direct. 

And a few words from the drivers about thier intentions over the coming few days. 

More updates as they go and more pictures when the aid arrives in Samos!! 

27TH and 28TH JANUARY 2020 - DAYS 2 AND 3

The first day was a good drive with the team bedding down at the Regensburg services. No problems except for Den's phone which they cannot get to work!

The second day has not been so good. 

The drivers are all still parked up at the Services in Regensberg!! Very frustrating all round!

The problem... an intermittent EDC warning light on Frantic, that when not on, allowed normal driving, but when on, brought vehicle power right down. Eventual diagnosis of a faulty sensor that they don’t have in stock, but with a promise that it will be there first thing tomorrow morning... patience is a virtue!!

29TH JANUARY 2020 - DAY 4

After a good catch-up day the trucks finished the day and are now parked in a services 50 k's short of Szeged near the Hungary/Romania border. Frantic performing well and they planning to make up more time tomorrow.

30TH and 31ST JANUARY 2020 - DAYS 5 AND 6

A great couple of days. 

Thursday morning the trucks entered Romania and spent the day travelling through.  They arrived at the Bulgaria border in the evening. 

Friday was another good days driving albeit in the snow! 

The team arrived in Greece in the afternoon in time to get a bit of rest!! 

It is a rest day tomorrow for the drivers as they are getting the 2130 ferry from Kavala tomorrow night.  Well deserved guys! 

1ST FEBRUARY 2020 - DAY 7

Roddy has arrived in Samos.... 

That is worthy of its own post, but just to add, Roddy and Steve have recced the various locations and they have a meeting tonight to plan more detail about how the week ahead will work.

2ND FEBRUARY 2020 - DAY 8

Trucks have arrived in Samos!!! 

3RD FEBRUARY 2020 - DAY 9

Day one of the big move, but there was a big team to enable everyone to get this done!

Luckily the sun shone for most of the day with a few little spit spots of rain here and there.

The first job to unload the 40’ and the 7.5 tonne trucks, what started with an empty room soon became box heavy!

The mezzanine level is now finished in the Nappy House lots of stuff was put onto that high level.

The large container was stacked and everyone worked as a big cohesive team - it was really great work.

They even managed to unload 7 pallets of women’s clothing from the temporary warehouse as well!

A summary of the week in Samos:

After arriving on Sunday, Monday saw the two trucks unloaded in record time into the various storage locations at the Refugee4Refugees site.

On Tuesday we moved on to transferring pallets from a temporary warehouse to the new site, while dodging arriving containers.
Wednesday saw a full day of transfers getting four loads into the new facilities, and that continued on Thursday until no more could be brought down while sorting and storage was refined.

The team put quite some effort into exploring the possibility of moving a consignment to Lesvos as part of the return journey, but the ferry changes needed and extra costs made it more effective to leave it to local transport.

Friday entails the drivers checking out well ahead of the ferry departure Saturday morning around 0400 for a full day cruise via Chios and Lesvos to Kavala.

After the intense rain of the last couple of days here, the weather is turning brighter but cooler and the trucks expect to encounter temperatures as low as -10c near Sofia on Sunday.

So the team has done what it came to do, and has a certain sympathy for the regular volunteers here working stoically in less that ideal circumstances.Mostly though, while we haven't had much direct contact with the refugees this trip, the dire weather we encountered drives home the awful situation that those in the camp must endure.

Trucks are now safely away from Samos.