Our close partners, the Moria White Helmets are one of the few refugee self-organizations in Greece. They play a crucial role inside the camp in Lesvos and offer a wide range of programs and services for their fellow camp residents.
In March 2020, a Syrian/ Arab self-organization was founded as a response to the covid-pandemic, with the ambition for refugees to take a more active role in the Moria Refugee Camp – the largest center for asylum seekers in Europe- in fixing their current issues.
The Moria White Helmets projects and actions follow the motto that “as long as we have hands, we can do it as it is our duty to keep each other safe”.
Currently, within the Mavrovouni Camp structure on Lesvos, the Moria White Helmets conduct a variety of projects developed and adapted to meet the ever changing needs on the island.
Waste Management and Recycling
Such projects include the continuation of waste management which has been a 3 year collaborative project with camp management to improve the living conditions for all living within the camp and its predecessor, Moria camp, partnered with weekly cleanings of the local community areas for environmental protection.
Pictures: Every day the Moria White Helmets clean up the camp and it`s surroundings
This year, MWH is launching a new recycling project within the camp to meet the current needs and focus on environmental protection.
On their FB-Page they introduce this project with their own words:
“We told you we were very busy to develop a new program to handle waste management and recycling in camp. After our colleagues from MCAT and we were promoting recycling for more than two years now peoples are really aware and ready to cooperate.
So our teams in the workshops developed the idea for new collection bins and with the help especially from our friends from Solingen hilft we build these bins all by ourselves and soon we will put them in different places in camp. They have a separation for bottles and cans. Then if they are full we manage as before to move them to the recycling company.
Also we plan to make more awareness in our classes and we made these nice posters to promote more recycling.
This was very hard work but we are very happy we can manage and also show we care about environment and climate change.
We want this camp to stay an example how refugees can deal with their daily issues as we managed in the last years.”
In addition to waste management and recycling projects, Moria White Helmets continues with electrical and mechanical support of the camp technical department to ensure that all camp residents have safe and sufficient electrical supply.
Pictures: Electrical Teams at work
Non formal Education and Awareness
The continuation and constant evolution of a non-formal self-run school led by the MWH team, ensures that all refugees and asylum seekers residing in Mavrovouni camp have access to a variety of educational opportunities and can continue to develop their skills for the future.
The group is successfully guaranteeing each other’s safety with various types of projects, each requiring tremendous resourcefulness and willingness to improve their living conditions. Their activities range from training informal camp emergency responders – assisting until the formal emergency responders’ arrival – to covid- protection and waste management.
Pictures: Classes from Moria White Helmets
The latter represents a basic need that, if unattended for, leads to the spread of diseases, insects, rodents, etc. Waste management is a necessity, and a lack of it is equal to blatant insecurity. Safety is the predominant objective of the group’s activities, which are as numerous as the indubitable sources of insecurity present in the camp. This explains how other projects came to life, depending on the urgency or needs. As a matter of fact, after the Moria Refugee Camp burnt down in 2020, the MWH provided outstanding assistance in both the camp’s population evacuation and the clean-up of waste thereafter. Since then, additionally to their other activities, the Moria White Helmets have been volunteering with trained electricians and machine operators, and are supporting the official Camp Managers’ Technical Department. Their aim is to ensure that everyone inside the camp has proper running electricity, also reducing the risk for fire hazards caused by self-made and improvised electric systems.
Standing Up for Refugee’s Rights
Despite the group’s impressive involvement in local security issues, a more profound change would be necessary to significantly improve their life conditions. With this in mind, the Moria White Helmets together with the Moria Corona Awareness Team brought their efforts to the political level, writing in total 4 letters appealing to the EU, the Pope, European civil society and European member states.
The letters aimed to bring awareness to their current concerns, highlighting achievable solutions while exhibiting their willingness to cooperate. One of the most striking sections of the letters was displayed in the third letter, and stated that asylum seekers in the Moria Refugee Camp would be content with animal rights, if human rights were not to be applicable. Although their letters went unanswered, they succeeded in raising awareness of their situation thanks to a relatively large media response in newspapers in Europe, North America and the Middle East, with some coverage in Asia and Africa. Members of the White Helmets of Moria have also been interviewed for documentaries, books and even scientific articles.
The MWH have drawn their inspiration from the Syrian White Helmets, a group that emerged during the Syrian war, in response to the complete lack of emergency services in the country. It became the people’s responsibility to perform emergency tasks and take care of their own. As pictures and videos of trained-volunteers-wearing-white-helmets rescuing people from bombed buildings were spread all around the world, the group became an inspiration stating that in times of crisis, it is possible to take action and save people, even when all formal emergency help is cut off. *
Our other Greek partner Ariadni-Lesvos is the main local Greek partner of the Moria White Helmets, because as a non-formal refufee self-organization they need an NGO that assists them with öogistics from outside the camp.
Please help us to help them to continue with their important work!
You can directly support the Moria White Helmets via this link on Paypal.
(*It should be noted that “White Helmets” and “Moria White Helmets” are two separate groups and organizations entirely.)