Volunteer surge in Lesvos as villagers come forward to help

Published: 17 November 2015 19:50 CET

By Caroline Haga, IFRC

A team of 24 new recruits from a holiday hot-spot in Lesvos have signed up to support refugees arriving on the island.

Tour guide Gabriel is among those who have taken part in fast-track training in Molyvos, organized by the Hellenic Red Cross to boost the pool of dedicated volunteers working around-the-clock to help the daily new arrivals.

“Most of us here in Molyvos have already been helping the new arrivals,” he said. “But I wanted to join the Red Cross so that I could volunteer with a well-known, professional organization and be able to help those in need even better.”

Molvynos, on the northern tip of the island, has seen countless boat landings in the last year. The work of volunteers plays a crucial role in helping the community to cope as well as providing emergency supplies and support up to 5,000 refugees who arrive every day.

Katerina and her two friends Maria and Katie also decided to take part in the training. “With the number of people arriving who need help, it is important that we know what to do and are prepared to act quickly if there is an emergency,” Katerina said.

The trio had been informally volunteering and doing their bit before joining the Red Cross. Their encounter with a young woman they met by a roadside last month inspired them to become trained.

“She was crying and didn’t speak any English,” said Katerina.

After giving her dry clothes and trying to help her stay calm, the group of friends realised she had lost her husband and two children.

“We felt helpless because we didn’t know what to do,” Katerina said.

“But now we’ve learnt about the Red Cross Restoring Family Links services to trace missing loved ones and connect families. Now we are ready to help.”