As previously mentioned in a post, refugee aid organizations are collaborating in Greece where the refugees from war impacted areas are arriving. Caritas Athens coordinates the activities of many of these agencies to avoid overlap and fill gaps as best they can. Caritas Athens and Catholic Relief Services are partnering with an organization that I would like to tell you about.
It seems one of the better characteristics of human nature is to come to the aid of others who are in need. The act of helping others without regard to their political, religious, national or any other category we can conceive of is something that most people are willing to do. The idea of being merciful to others; seeking good for them and alleviating suffering, is not only thousands of years old and buttressed by Christian Scripture (i.e., The Good Samaritan) but it is something that thousands of aid workers do daily all around the year. This army of workers are different in many ways. They have their own religious, political, national and age differences. They are men and women, clergy and secular, and rich and poor. One thing that they have in common is that almost all of them are volunteers, giving of their time for one reason: to simply help other human beings.
One such group of volunteers comes from the Netherlands and is called the Boat Refugee Foundation (or Bootvluchteling in Dutch). The volunteers with the Boat Refugee Foundation who were at the port in Athens were generally young (20-30), energetic and extremely engaged in helping the refugees. These young volunteers spend on average 10-14 days assisting Caritas Athens and then return to the Netherlands. The truly amazing and impressive part is that they do all of this as unpaid volunteers, pay for their own flights to Athens, and their hotel and meals while volunteering. In effect, they pay out of their own financial resources to help others. We were so very impressed with their work and the joy they brought to the refugees they encountered. As a CRS Global Fellow it was great to see the spirit of collaboration exhibited by this Caritas Partner. Thanks for your good work Bootvluchteling!