Stranded at the border in Greece and needing health care

Published: 7 December 2015 17:22 CET

Caroline Haga/IFRC

Thousands of migrants have become stranded in Idomeni in northern Greece due to new regulations  which permit only Syrians, Afghanis and Iraqis to cross the border into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Vulnerable migrants on both side of the border, no matter their nationalities, all have dreams of journeying on to northern Europe.

The Red Cross has been providing basic health care at Idomeni with both an international medical team and volunteer teams from the Hellenic Red Cross. It has been a busy time. Recently during a five hour period, Hellenic Red Cross volunteers treated over 120 patients. Today four nurses are on duty.

Passion for helping others

Despite her young age, Despina Vadouridou, 26, has already been volunteering in crises for five years. “I’ve volunteered in Tunisia with the Red Crescent society, in Kenya with the UN, and here in Greece with the Hellenic Red Cross as well as Doctors of the World and a local NGO helping abused women and children.” At the same time, Despina has been studying to finish her second master’s degree.

In addition to her experience and dedication, Despina speaks five languages: Greek, English, Italian, French and Arabic. “I really like working with the Red Cross,” she says.

Stressful situations

The team is led by Hellenic Red Cross nurse Dina Gouti, 45, who is a first aid and health care trainer. “I think we are making a difference,” she says. “Many of our patients leave with smiles , which makes me feel very good.” Even though Dina has been with the Red Cross for 23 years and has experienced many missions, she says working in Idomeni has been stressful for her and the volunteers. “Most of the patients we have treated have lost someone, some are alone with no one to talk to, and all of them are anxious to continue their journey.”

A mother of four, Dina also makes sure that her children are aware of the situation. “I tell them that I’m helping children who have experienced war, and they all want to come and help too.”