Food Distribution Program for Needy Immigrants in Ierapetra, Crete, Greece

Project location: GREECE, Ierapetra
Project start date: September 2013 - Project end date: November 2014
Project number: 2013-043
Beneficiary: Crete for Life Onlus

 [2014-059 | 2016-058]

Founded in 2005, Crete For Life is a charity focused on children and minors, working on practical projects to make an immediate, but hopefully lasting impact on their lives.    

For over a decade, Greece has experienced a severe economic and social crisis  and in the recent years it has struggled to cope with unprecedented migration influx by sea and by land.  
In addition to the official number of asylum seekers and refugees, thousands of people  are not officially registered, including economic migrants, mostly from Pakistan, working as cheap labour in Greece’s agricultural sector.
Refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants might come from different realities but all share the same predicament and uncertainty. Crete For Life, thanks to the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation,  is able to offer supports, focusing on children, unaccompanied minors and those most at risk.
Thanks to “The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation” Crete For Life’s “Emergency relief and assistance to migrants and refugees in Crete, Greece” it’s on its third year. It takes place in Athens, assisting asylum seekers from Syria and Iraq, and in Ierapetra, Crete, assisting mostly Pakistani economic migrants.
Crete For Life operates in a environment where migration is a highly divisive issue: many Greeks responds with generosity and solidarity to it, while others feel threatened by it and respond with fear and aggression.
The charity aims to offer a safe, neutral reference point for those fleeing war, violence and looking for a better life for themselves and their families. Volunteers are a friendly presence, in a community which is hostile or at best indifferent, to help with first assistance, information and follow up, often acting as interpreters in translating a different western way of life.  
Main categories of support are:

•    Food Distribution: Crete For Life ships to Athens vegetables grown in local Cretan greenhouses that are not suitable for the general distribution. These fresh, cheaper but non-perfect vegetables are distributed, in cooperation with local charities and individuals, to refugee camps and other locations in the capital.

•    In Ierapetra, Crete, a food bank distributes halal fresh and long life food to a number of migrant households, including oil and pulses,  according to diet and religious restrictions of each ethnic groups.

•    Provisions: Hygiene products, new and second-hand clothes, shoes, baby formula, nappies, strollers, accessories, school bags, etc. are distributed by volunteers among refugees families and households.

•    Health: The long travel towards Europe often takes its toll on people already vulnerable and stressed. Lack of working infrastructures in their own countries, poor health and hygiene while travelling, and third-world like living condition often results in infections, skin diseases, respiratory ailments, especially in infants and children. Undocumented migrants workers and refugees, sometime as young as 12/13 years old, who are not entitled or are not able to get to public healthcare are helped with specialist medical visits, therapies and medicines  and with support during their recovery.

People will continue to migrate through Greece, pushed by terrible circumstances in their own countries and pulled by the opportunities for a better life in Europe, however true or perceived.  
Some people are leaving their families and communities behind, for self preservation or for a sense of duty, to insure their children, sisters, brothers are fed, healthy and educated,  in search of a better future for themselves and their families. Crete For Life wants to be part of their hope.

think global, act local
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