Why I’m going to Greece to help Refugees through Servant Group International

 In Europe

I am going to Greece in March. This may seem like a simple statement, especially from someone like me. I regularly jet off to far off lands with and without my kids. It’s my job to travel.

My trip to Greece will be very different from anything I have ever done.

I’m going to volunteer in a refugee camp – Camp Moria- in Lesvos, Greece.

I’ve watched what is happening in Syria and across the Middle East for years. I’ve seen how Greece, a nation who has nothing to give, has opened her arms to those most in need- the innocent men, women and children who are effected by this war.

No matter your stance on what is going on in the Middle East or your religious views, I think we can all agree innocent lives are always taken when conflict arises. Those who are just trying to go about their daily lives, go to work, and raise happy kids are being murdered and risking everything to get away from the violence they never thought they would have to face.

Lesvos Greece Refugees- Servant Group International21st Century Refugee Crisis

The warfare in Syria and across the Middle East has triggered the largest refugee crisis since WWII. Not many of us were part of WWII, at least not from my generation. Our parents might have fought in Vietnam and they saw the child refugees being brought to America, but it was nothing like the scale Europe is seeing as families flee violence in their hometowns.

This is not a joke. It was not made up by the media. A handful of government officials are not making a bigger deal of this than they should. This is real. And it’s time for me to stop sitting on my couch and just watching it happen.

The quick impact this has had on kids

We as Americans don’t know what it is like to face a refugee crisis of this magnitude. This video by Save the Children gives you just a taste of how quickly one child’s life can change when effected by the wars raging right now.

Lesvos, Greece with Servant Group International

In mid-March 2017 I will be boarding a plane with a group of adults from my church. (Yes, I go to church.) Restore Church sent two teams to Athens in 2016. I wasn’t able to join either group due to the timing.

After working in Athens, our team decided that we needed to get closer to the front of the refugee crisis, where volunteers we had been working with from Servant Group International said they needed more hands just to help with the enormous influx of refugees.

We are answering that call.

The island of Lesvos is the closest Greek island to Turkey, where many refugees are getting in small rafts to make the dangerous crossing into Europe from Turkey. This is also the island where aid workers found a young girl washed up on shore after drowning when her life boat sank last winter. Boats regularky sink off the shores of Lesvos, Greece.

These truths are not easy for me to write. They will be even harder to witness, but we all need to witness the horrors that have gone on for far too long in our world and are too often ignored or swept aside by the media and the national political spectrum.

Working in Camp Moria

The main thing that is needed in the refugee camps is extra hands. Full-time aid workers are stretched thin by the number of refugees escaping their homeland and arriving on the shores of Lesvos everyday. Camp Moria is one of the first of many stops refugees will make on their journey to resettlement, whether in Greece or elsewhere in Europe and far beyond. This Greek government and military run camp has partnered with the U.N., EuroRelief and other NGOs to assist with aid work. We will be working directly with volunteers from Servant Group International to do the every day tasks of running the camp, including:

  • Preparing/serving meals to 4,000 people
  • Organizing/distributing clothing
  • Running the tea tent
  • Playing with children
  • Teaching English (a huge benefit for resettlement)

It might also entail us receiving boats as they land on the shores and helping warm up wet refugees. These are simple, yet powerful ways to help refugee families cross the bridge from crisis to a new home. This is the first deep breath many have been able to take on their long journey to safety after experiencing historic levels of tragedy.

What volunteers and refugees face

Warning: This can be a difficult video to watch. It is not explicitly graphic, but it is powerful and shows what is happening on the ground.

How can you help?

Not everyone has the time to take away from his or her family and jobs to volunteer. We all understand this. But a trip like this doesn’t come for free. No one is sponsoring it. It is up to every one of the volunteers to raise their own funds for airfare, lodging, food and supplies for the camp.

This is why I need your help.

Because our trip is coming up so fast, I need to raise $2800 to join my team to serve refugees in Lesvos, Greece by mid-February. All money goes towards airfare and Servant Group International, who will be setting up our lodging and other necessities while we are on the ground. We have vetted this organization thoroughly. Not a dime goes into my pocket or the pockets of aid workers.

Deadlines: 

  • January 29- $1000 (to pay for airfare from Washington, D.C. to Lesvos)
  • February 8- $1800 (goes to Servant Group International who sets up all lodging and everything else we need to hit the ground running)

If you feel that this refugee crisis is important, and you would like to help, I would love for you to partner with me on this journey through your financial support, but more importantly, through you positive thoughts and prayers. This will be a difficult and emotional journey, but one I feel lead to take right now.

Lesvos Greece RefugeesThree ways to give

There are three ways our team is collecting donations in order to make it as easy as possible for YOU. We also want to give you a tax credit option since the money is being raised for a trip lead by a non-profit organization.

Tax-Deductible Donations

Restore Church: Sign into the online giving page to make a tax-deductible donation. OR you can send a check directly to Restore Church.

  • Online Giving. Have no fear. Your information will be secure. I use it all of the time. 
  • Checks: Restore Church, 8241 Georgia Avenue, Suite 125, Silver Spring, MD 20910
  • Please note on check memo line and online payments that the funds should be put towards Keryn Means- Greece March 2017

Servant Group International: $1800 will go directly to SGI, no matter how you donate. You can send a check directly to SGI, but please make sure you put “Keryn Means” on the memo line.

  • SGI Address: Servant Group International, ATTN: Lisa Harris, 506 Tanksley Ave, Nashville, TN 37211
  • Make sure you put KERYN MEANS on the memo line

Non-tax deductible Donations

Checks sent to me: If you know me personally, and you would feel better about sending a check directly to me, I will submit your check to Restore Church (who is booking airfare) or Servant Group International on your behalf. I am not a non-profit though, so I cannot give you any tax forms for you to deduct it on your 2017 taxes.

  • If you would like to chat more about this option, please send me an email.

Go Fund Me: I’ve set up a Go Fund Me account to make it easier to make quick donations. These will not be tax-deductible, but this is the easiest way to give. All funds will be withdrawn and sent directly to SGI to cover the $1800 and to Restore Church to cover airfare.

Lesvos Greece RefugeesWhat about Extra Funds? 

Please note that any extra funds raised will go directly to Servant Group International. This will help fund their continued work on the ground. We do not keep a dime, whether we go over our goal or not. This money is not for my team or me. It is to help the refugees.

QUESTIONS?

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about this volunteer trip to Lesvos, Greece.

I will be covering my journey before and after the trip so you can get updates. You will see what is actually going on in Lesvos as the refugee crisis continues across Europe. The refugee story is often pushed aside by the media. One of my teammates and I will be doing extra work with the volunteers to help ensure more stories are coming out of the camp and being heard.

Lesvos Greece Refugees- Servant Group InternationalPhoto credits: Syrian refugees in boat, Aerial ShotRefugees on overloaded dingy/Nicolas Economou, Shipwreck at Lesvos, Lifevests and Child on Beach/Anjo Kan via Shutterstock.com

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Showing 5 comments
  • Mom
    Reply

    So proud of you! It’s so great to see that your sponsoring agency, Servant Group International, is working with other groups such as Samaritan’s Purse which made the very moving video. I cried! Can’t wait to hear your stories.

  • Lee
    Reply

    That’s such an awesome thing to do! Not to mention Greece kind of rules!

    • Keryn Means
      Reply

      Haven’t been to Greece yet so that will be exciting too!

  • Jennifer
    Reply

    What a wonderful thing you’re doing! Looking forward to hearing about your trip.

  • Stacy
    Reply

    In case you need some contacts, I’ve been in touch with two Lesvos residents who are very active in the situation there, Eric Kempson and his wife Phillipa, who are out everyday filming and helping: https://m.facebook.com/thekempsons/
    https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCnPYqWbPl4OOCa7RHfSjhxw
    I have sent supplies via Amazon to them and the others they work with.

    I collect for and donate to a local organization “Action from Switzerland” who are running a women and children refuge on Chios.

    If you need any additional resources let me know!

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