Elpida, the 5-star refugee camp

Elpida camp is known as the five star hotel. Located north of Thessaloniki, next to the highway, an old textile factory serves as one the of the refugee camps in the surrounding, controlled by the Greek government. As a volunteer you are a visitor, entering the homes of the 160 refugee families living here. They are responsible themselves for cleaning the place, furnishing and decorating it.

Elpida is run by Together for Better Days, the organization that run the Olive Grove Camp on Lesvos before it got evicted. It’s an example of how things could be done. Allowing volunteers to help out on-site apparently gives a camp a few extra stars. And it saves cost too…

We can see how activities will work here. The atmosphere is good and people’s basic needs are covered.

While it all seems like a happy community, you know that most of the people living here are still stuck in a hard place. We can feel a tension resulting from top-down political decisions. Cooking is not allowed. Not only are people forced to eat macaroni and other uninspiring foods imposed by the government, it also leaves the camps with excessive amounts of plastic trays that are impossible to process.

If only we could find a way to put all the plastic to good use…