Greece’s geographic location places it on the front line of this crisis, with its border islands forced to take on a critical first responder role.
Severely limited by the ongoing financial crisis and crippling austerity measures, Greece is ill-equipped to handle the extensive humanitarian needs arising from the influx of refugees.
The most urgent needs are those that affect the health and well-being of the 2,000-6,000 refugees landing on the shores of Lesvos each day — sick, injured, traumatized, pregnant — after fleeing the atrocities of war and making the harrowing trek across the Aegean sea.
Like so many others, Danielle Butin, Founder and Executive Director of The Afya Foundation, has been profoundly moved by the Syrian refugee crisis and the related humanitarian failure unfolding before the world’s eyes. With much of the media focusing on horrific images of war-torn cities and drowned children, and stories about the political, social and financial impact of the refugees on Europe, Danielle sought to understand the human side of the story.
She traveled to Athens and Lesvos, Greece in January 2016 to assess the situation and identify ways The Afya Foundation could help make a difference. [Watch the video of Danielle’s trip]. While there, Danielle assembled a diverse group of Greek and American business, governmental and religious groups, all with the shared goal of supporting the Greek healthcare infrastructure and enabling Greeks to attend to the needs of both its people and the refugees arriving in droves each day.
The name of this initiative is Project Spora. “Spora” means “sowing of seed” in Ancient Greek, and speaks to the collaborative approach to Afya’s work and its broad, diverse base of support. Project Spora is proudly supported by:
A 60 year old emergency care physician-trained in diagnostics and urgent care medicine and has used her magnificent training worldwide-Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Indonesia, Haiti and many more. The Port Police have asked her to run all diagnostics, triage and care for Coast Guard Boats doing search and rescue 24/7. She does this with almost no medical supplies. Her commitment to delivering care is soul deep and her expertise incomparable. She doesn’t sleep…every moment awake is a moment she dedicates to saving a life.
This retired elder has chosen to spend his retirement (he was the Mayor of Mytilini) taking care of refugees. He and other retired colleagues and friends spend every day on the top of the cliff welcoming refugees to Lesvos with warm blankets, water and food. They are the elder caregivers and are proud to use their time welcoming people who are just like them-they lead by example and welcome all with an abundance of genuine warmth.
Proud and highly respected OBGYN who manages care for most of the residents on the island. He is committed to delivering care to Greek citizens and refugees. Is in desperate need of all supplies, he gathered a list, from every dept in his hospital , for us to take back to NY and find for him. He showed us a newly renovated operating room with no equipment or operating room table. Rooms for patient care exist, with no beds or supplies needed. He remains completely invested and optimistic that this will change and hopeful that tomorrow will bring better solutions and access for all to care.
Heralded for remarkable reporting of the refugee crisis at the biggest news agency in Greece, he brings sensitivity and compassion to his story telling. Not afraid to trudge into the water, get right to the boats at the dock or sit on rocks with refugees in camps, he seeks out truth and tells stories with an honest and compelling voice. He recently won an international award for his reporting of the refugee crisis. His grandfather traveled the road of the refugee from Turkey to Lesvos and believes all on the island are refugees and one and this perspective significantly impacts the voice he uses for reporting.