Moria is the largest registration point and transit camp for refugees arriving on the island of Lesvos, Greece from Turkey.
A refugee’s flight to asylum doesn’t end with their entrance into Europe. After crossing the dangerous Aegean sea in overcrowded and flimsy dinghies, this part of the journey is just the beginning!
Nearly everyone who makes it to the shores of Lesvos will arrive very cold and wet. They are pulled in and looked after by other organized volunteer groups along the beaches. We co-ordinate with them so we know when to expect the new arrivals as they are bussed over to camp Moria. Here they will have to wait (up to several days on peak times), until they are registered with FRONTEX, the European Border Control agency.
After their registration they are able to buy a ticket to Athens and continue their journey. This document is used at each border crossing and, as such, is vital to the safe passage of refugees and their families.
The Moria registration camp began processing refugees in early July 2015. For five months, it could only offer shelter to a handful of the overwhelming numbers it received. Food distribution was minimal or altogether nonexistent. A handful of brave doctors from various NGOs shouldered the burden of treating the thousands of new refugees arriving daily.
As autumn turned to winter, the situation worsened with cold and rain. Around this time, several independent volunteers joined together to establish a system of emergency response and general welfare for the refugees processing through Moria camp.
We called ourselves Better Days for Moria.
About Better Days for Moria and the Olive Grove Project
Better Days for Moria launched its Olive Grove Project on November 29th, 2015. Our first service was a distribution center for dry shoes, blankets, clothing and dry-foods, as well as identifying refugees in urgent need of medical attention.
As the project grew, we incorporated an information center, a medical clinic, hot food distribution, a children’s area, a tea tent, nightly firewood allotments, a non-denominational prayer room, and clean toilets. We are also currently working hard to provide high quality tents on the Olive Grove so that we can offer people a place to sleep when the camp gets over-crowded so people won’t have to spend the cold nights out in the open.
Medical, food and clothing services are open 24 hours a day.
The group – growing weekly in volunteers and outreach – now sees hundreds of cases per day even as we distribute up to 5,000 meals and respond to the urgent clothing needs of refugees wet from their journey across the Aegean.
These services do not and cannot replace the essential aid provided inside the camp by the UNHCR, the Danish Refugee Council, Doctors Without Borders, and others. Rather, they compliment this aid in key areas.
Our vision is to be a source of warm welcome for the refugees while remaining dynamic enough to react to the most urgent problems of the camp as they arise. And we do it with a smile!