How bananas can help with the greatest humanitarian crisis since WWII

Refugees at Thessaloniki with Team Bananas

Refugees at Thessaloniki with Team Bananas - Credit: Archant

A trainee journalist from Camden writes about why she feels compelled to travel to a refugee camp in Greece, to distribute bananas

Lucy will be helping refugees at Thessaloniki with Team Bananas

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

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get on a £64 Easyjet flight and fly the four hours to Greece to volunteer at a refugee camp to do my bit for the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

So finally, I will be heading out to the Northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki with a group of friends from North London to volunteer with the charity Team Bananas.

The organisation distributes bananas to refugees who are suspended in camps there.

The city is home to approximately 10,000 refugees with an estimated 75 new arrivals every day.

Most of the refugees have settled in eight different camps but there are also many living in abandoned buildings and homeless on the street.

These include many families and breastfeeding women living in squalid conditions.

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Team Bananas was set up in March this year to address the chronic food situation in the camps.

When a doctor was asked what the best food for the refugee children would be, without hesitation he said it was bananas. The fruit is rich in vitamins and minerals and very cheap, too, with every pound buying six bananas.

Team Bananas’ work has become highly valued in the area with a singalong and dance for the children after snacking.

Charlie Bowles, 25, from Team Bananas, said: “I was amazed by how much the kids and their parents seemed to benefit from a banana and a dance and a chat.”

Team Bananas has now joined forces with other independent voluntary organisations working in the city including Project Clothes and Inter European Human Aid Association.

As well as the usual banana distribution, other essentials are now handed out, such as milk, vegetables, and hygiene items.

I can’t even begin to comprehend what some of these people must have been through but what I can do is try to alleviate their most desperate situation in some way. By raising a little money beforehand and providing a spare pair of hands when I get there, I can try to make sense of a disturbing situation.

With apprehension, excitement and a little trepidation, I pack my rucksack with a few items including an anorak, leggings and converse and set off.

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