It is with sadness and pride that we announce today the closing down of Helping Hands of Rhodes.
Since this all first started in August 2015 we have worked tirelessly to help the volunteers and refugees on this island and others close by. Things have now reached a stage where we are no longer able to continue as an organisation. Though as individuals we will always be helping others in some way.
We wish to thank everyone that has helped us to help them in so many different ways:
The volunteers over the summer who came from all over the world, at their own expense they came and helped many staying for weeks at a time. They brought donations with them and most importantly gave their time when it was most needed. We have made some lifelong friends who we hope we’ll see again one day. One came for a month and brought 30 suitcases with him then later sent his brother to help.
The Driving Angels who spent months on end driving up and down the island delivering donations to be sorted and handed out. They were always there whenever we called. Meeting people at airports and moving around hundreds of suitcases.
The holiday makers who brought over donations. We lost count of the amount of suitcases that arrived on a weekly basis at Rhodes airport and hotels around the island. From nappies to baby carriers. Strollers and clothes. Toys and backpacks the response was overwhelming. Some gave up a day or two of their holiday and volunteered at the refugee centre. Many turned up at the centre with food and clothes.
The local volunteers who worked throughout the winter. Sorting clothes and putting into place systems to aid the running of the centre. Providing cover for the open windows, making doors and shelves. Providing essential plumbing equipment and supplies to improve life for everyone at the centre. Working every day from morning to night to improve the basic structures of the centre.
The locals in the villages and Rhodes town who collected clothes and food and helped out to provide 2 water boilers for the centre, one for the kitchen and one for the coffees. The people who answered our appeals, despite the financial situation so many are in here they helped in any way they could.
People around the world who sent donations for the Backpack appeal we handed out over a thousand backpacks to refugees in Rhodes and have also been able to provide backpacks and their contents for Kastellorizo, Symi and Halki.
The holiday companies, hotels and airlines. They allowed passengers to bring an extra suitcase for free, they stored donations until they could be collected and gave their staff time to help us. We would particularly like to thank: TUI, Sunwing resort Rhodes, Ving Travel Company, Atlantica Hotel Group Kolymbia, Lindos Reception, Pefki Island Resort Hotel, Rhodos Direct Holidays, Caprice Pefkos, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines)
Blue Star Ferries. Over the winter they have allowed us to send for free to islands close by. At least twice a week we have sent up to 30 boxes a time to Kastellorizo their staff have always been so helpful and kind.
The donations you sent went to people who needed them in places that needed them. The refugee centre in Rhodes was well stocked and ready for spring when we left. Clothes, medical supples, nappies, backpacks and toiletries have been sent to Kastellorizo, Symi, Halki and Tilos. Without all of you none of this would have ever been possible.
The refugee situation in Rhodes has been much quieter over the winter months. The situation throughout the region is very uncertain and those at the refugee centre will always welcome help and support. If you wish to help please contact or call in and speak to Mr Dinos Mantikos who is in charge (You can contact him on 694 5616502).
The reasons we are closing down are many, the current financial situation in Greece with capital controls still in place mean that setting up as a Greek charity with a bank account is not possible. The hours needed to run a charity and help out cannot be sustained forever without support from everyone at the refugee centre. Alongside issues with the local politics it was time to re-evaluate our position as an active force on the ground.This is not the time to expand further.
As winter is coming to an end the work we have done has helped set everything up at the centre. Most of our local expat volunteers will be going to back to working 6 or 7 days a week once the tourist season starts again. Though you may still spot us occasionally helping out at the centre on a day off!
Links to organisations near who are helping refugees:
Helping Hands of Rhodes has been amazing but only because of the people involved. Thank you all of you for helping us to help them.