A message from our Chair on behalf of the Board of Trustees
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
As we turn the pages of this new year, we are each blessed with a chance to reflect on constant challenges we are forced to face, to learn from difficult experiences and most importantly, how we can keep moving forward. We feel privileged and encouraged to consider our individual positions and how we can use this to benefit other humans, society and ultimately, the world in general.
At Kitrinos Healthcare, 2020 began in an academic stance with the launch of the inaugural ‘Educational Charity Conference’ in February, where a number of eminent speakers, including many who have worked in the humanitarian field such as Dr David Nott, shared their personal experiences. It was a day of learning on many levels: medical, emotional, physical and spiritual. These are core mindsets for our organisation as we continue to deliver our holistic service delivery model.
In the very next month, our activities were violently interrupted by fascist attacks on our staff and volunteers by local extremists on the island of Lesvos. The majority of our team were running scared and were evacuated away from Lesvos for fears of their safety. This was swiftly followed by the onset of the worldwide pandemic that changed all our lives including the way we work in the refugee camps. Those who had chosen to stay were valiantly led by Abdul-Hadi Shahud, our Syrian Field Operations Manager who continued to strive against all odds. Medical collaboration with partners such as Boat Refugee Foundation (BRF) and Medical Volunteers International (MVI), as well as having the support of local Greek doctors and nurses, meant we could keep the clinical services running.
Fears of COVID-19 infecting Camp Moria, where just under twenty thousand vulnerable people lived, were real. The potential for another human tragedy, given that social distancing and handwashing were never possible in the camp, was very high.
From medical records we identified over five hundred extremely vulnerable people who needed chronic medication or were pregnant. With the support of the Moria camp management, Euro Relief and UNHCR, efforts to protect the residents by evacuating the extremely vulnerable and their immediate families were successful. InSeptember 2020, the first case of Coronavirus was confirmed in the camp. A week later when the numbers of positive cases had multiplied a devastating fire tore through the rat-infested Moria, destroying most of the camp as well as our clinic and supplies. Miraculously no one was killed, but our equipment and supplies of medication were gone.
Since the fire, we've been working in several locations across Greece serving displaced Moria residents. Those who remained were transferred to 'Moria 2.0' - a temporary camp on the coast of Lesvos built on an army shooting range facility. We continue to support clinical care here despite many challenges.
Thank you all for your ongoing support,