Five days in and I’m exhausted: Life in a Greek refugee camp

Lucy will be helping refugees at Thessaloniki with Team Bananas

Lucy will be helping refugees at Thessaloniki with Team Bananas - Credit: Archant

In the first of a series written from the Greek town of Thessaloniki, currently home to more than 20,000 refugees, a trainee journalist from Kentish Town writes about her life as a volunteer

Five days in and I’m absolutely exhausted.

We begin our days by distributing bananas, eggs and bread to the 160 homeless refugees living in Thessaloniki.

Whole families are taking shelter in half built factories, derelict train stations and apartment cellars.

After breakfast, we drive to the outskirts of the city to a warehouse to prepare lunch for the refugees on an industrial scale. It involves frantic chopping and stirring of gargantuan cauldrons.

Trays of hot stew are then handed out at central points across the city.

With sub zero temperatures and snow settling, many of the refugees roam in t-shirts and sandals. They are only too pleased to see their hot lunches arrive.

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What struck me immediately about the homeless refugees was how chipper they were, how high their morale was - even though many of them were hungry, cold and facing extreme hardship.

We spend the rest of the day sorting through towers of donated clothes, getting them ready to hand out in the camps.

New estimates say there are more than 22,000 refugees living in the vicinity. With the recent militarisation of the camps, it’s increasingly difficult for volunteers to enter - but today, we will head in.