With so much information flooding news sites about the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the hardships these refugees and migrants are facing, it’s often hard to have a positive outlook when praying for the world. We knew before we even left for Greece that we would want to partake and do something to make a difference while we were in country – whether it was visiting a refugee camp, helping with clothes, food, or supplies, or raising money.
We asked our guide in Athens, and she connected us with the Salvation Army in Victoria’s Square, which is a hotspot for refugees coming into Greece. We visited the first day we were in Athens and spent some time in the stock room helping separate diapers, fold and consolidate clothes, and learned more about what the Salvation Army was doing to help in whatever way they can. It was a humbling moment for all of us as we talked with the workers and the volunteers, some of which were refugees there to make a difference themselves, and we learned a lot more about what it means to make it to Greece as a refugee or migrant and try to build a new life with so little.
There were hardly any people at the Salvation Army when we first went, and so when we came back on Friday to draw and play with the kids, we were at first shocked to see the large population of people waiting to get into the building to get their food, diapers, and clothes. There were so many people there with only one intention and that was to get what they needed and leave. Some of us were caught off guard with the magnitude of the situation. We were told we were going to play and draw with the kids, and here we were struggling to make our way through a crowd to even get into the building.
After talking with the man in charge, we decided that within the hour we would return when the crowd had died down and they would be holding more of a party for the kids while they supplied parents with extra supplies for small children and families. When we returned, it was a much different feeling as we walked in. There was music going and one of the volunteers, a refugee himself, as dressed as a clown. They’d put up balloons and created a small place area for the kids. Parents were going down into the storeroom to get supplies and the kids were being cared for with face painting, candies, and us.
These kids were so small, and yet they had seen more in their life than we ever will. I was holding a small girl in my lap as she hesitated between attempting to draw and just watching me. At one point, she seemed to be struggling with the crayon so I held her hand and draw with her for
a little bit. When I went to let go and go back to my own drawing and let her do her own thing, she grabbed my hand again and placed her hand in mine before putting the crayon in her hand once again. It wasn’t so much about the drawing for these kids, though that was fun, but it was more about the comfort of having a warm and happy and safe person shielding them as they did something carefree.
No matter what the event was – playing ukulele, drawing, or playing with the toys that had been donated – these small children took pride and extreme interest in whatever they were doing. For me personally, it was a great reminder just how much of an impact the little moments can mean. Praying for the world is such a daunting task sometimes. How do we know our prayers will make a difference? Where do we start when it comes to praying for the entire world?
But it takes those moments where all you need to do is sit and hold a small girl’s hand to make a difference and know that your prayers for the world are being received. We were very grateful to have this opportunity even though we only spent a little bit of time in there. We all had different experiences that meant something different to us, and in the grand scheme of things this was a blip on the radar. But the impact was still made and felt, both for those we visited and us as well.