WakaWakas for Refugees and Volunteers on Lesbos

March 21, 2017
WakaWakas For The Refugees In The Kara Tepe Community

A Journey To Lesbos

Lesbos is one of Greece’s most beautiful islands in the Aegean sea. For centuries this special place has seen many people come and go. Since the Syrian war and the increasing turmoil in the Middle East, rafts and boats continue to make their way to Lesbos. Each day thousands flee conflict in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and other countries, leaving everything behind. Many of these displaced people seek shelter in tents or small, improvised houses in refugee camps. However, most camps are often overcrowded by the overwhelming amount of people and do not have sufficient facilities. Only 11% of the 65 million+ displaced innocents worldwide living in a camp have access to electricity and light (MOTG). Also in the refugee camps in Lesbos, access to electricity can be hard to find. 

Movement On The Ground

Movement on the ground is a foundation that responds to humanitarian crisis. They have been actively involved in providing shelter, food, and safety to displaced people arriving on Lesbos. Their mission is to provide a more dignified, sustainable, and innovative response to the refugee crisis in Europe.

WakaWakas For The Refugees In The Kara Tepe Community         

One example of a refugee camp on Lesbos where Movement On The Ground operates is that of the so-called Kara Tepe Community. During winter time the inhabitants of the Kara Tepe refugee camp face more days of cloudiness and rain. Life in the camp becomes more challenging in many ways. It is colder, the paths are muddy and slippery, and it becomes dark earlier. For Kara Tepe, it is even more challenging as this camp hosts the most vulnerable cases: families with many children, mentally ill people, disabled and elderly. 

In August 2017 Maurits Groen, co-founder of WakaWaka traveled to Lesbos in order to provide 1000 WakaWakas to Movement On The Ground. In January that year, thanks to a generous donation from Van Gansewinkel, the WakaWaka Foundation was already able to provide 972 WakaWakas. These solar lights were distributed in the Kara Tepe community amongst refugees, volunteers, and aid workers. The volunteers and aid workers use the WakaWaka lights for emergencies, activities, and repairs of homes after sunset. The refugees who receive a WakaWaka Light, of which many are children, use the device to shine a light in their homes during the nights. The WakaWakas give families a feeling of safety and security before bedtime. In the dark, children are able to read and people can leave their tent to go to the bathroom without feeling unsafe. 

WakaWakas For The Refugees In The Kara Tepe Community

The Story of Zaki

On his journey to Europe, Zaki (24) experienced a shipwreck as his boat got punctured on open waters. After laying in the cold sea at night for hours, and losing others out of sight, he started to lose hope for a good end. Nevertheless, he found the energy to stay alive throughout the night and at sunrise, he was discovered by a fisherman's boat. Although he suffered from severe hyperthermia, Zaki eventually made it. Unfortunately, many others did not. 

On Kara Tepe Zaki has been one of the most remarkable inhabitants. Always laughing, very helpful, and always ready to volunteer. When he received the WakaWaka as extra support during the nights, he was very happy and touched. It reminded him of the lights in the dark that he saw in the far distance when he was trying to survive the cold sea. The lights kept him focused and gave him hope. 

We are thankful for the generous donation of Van Gansewinkel and the fruitful collaboration with Movement on the Ground who have made tremendous efforts in distributing the WakaWakas and providing us with several inspiring stories. 

Light and Power ... THE SWITCH
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