Sophie’s Diary – part two

So, my aim at blogging every other day lasted as far as day two! 

Hospital visits

The following week was filled with going to the hospital with F to see her newborn son. Each day we thought he would be sent home the next day, and each day he wasn’t. We were told the baby was well, but we must wait for the test results to be sure.

I understand and appreciate the caution taken by the Greek hospitals but also worry about the impact of separating a baby from his mother for 10 days at less than three weeks old, and the impact on future breastfeeding (because I’m an expert at all this now you know! – Thanks Sally!)

image of a baby in hospital
F’s baby in hospital

A week later on the Wednesday we also took F’s three year old daughter to the hospital with a suspected urine infection. This involved a lot of waiting around, but F was able to go and feed baby regularly while I waited with her daughter trying to keep her entertained.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be a single mother with a 3 year old and a baby in a foreign country with no family, and husband still stuck in Syria.

So, I was happy to be able to help at this even more distressing time. 

Good news and difficult decisions

We also had a success story … and then a very difficult decision to make. A CRIBS family had moved out – the dad had got a job and with the support of CRIBS they found their own flat. This was wonderful news, and is exactly what the charity is about – giving people some stability in their hour of need, and enabling them to find their feet in a new country, develop their language skills and find work. 

This meant we were able to look to our waiting list to decide who to move in next. This turned out to be pretty awful – we had 7 families on the waiting list. We talked through their situations, including:

  • A pregnant mum with diabetes and a toddler
  • A woman sleeping on the floor of a church with her newborn
  • A woman sleeping in a park with a sick newborn 

We had to make that decision and we did so as a group.

When you are having to decide what’s worse between situations like this you really realise how bad things are.

When a mother with a newborn baby can’t access housing provided by authorities, you have to ask where the system has gone wrong, where all that EU money has gone. 

Free shop, new knickers

Another day or so was spent helping Qasim and Shazia with the CRIBS Free Shop – which is currently opening on an ad hoc basis to provide the families with the things they need, with dignity and respect.

a man stands next to rails of clothes in the CRIBs Free Shop
Qasim in the Free Shop

They can browse the clothes, household items, kitchen equipment, books and toys and choose what they’d like – just like any other shop, but minus the payment at the end, all thanks to the wonderful people bringing and sending donations. 

We had just had a huge delivery of women’s knickers from a local supplier arranged by the wonderful Mary Dallas and enabled by the huge success of my “Smalls for Sophie” campaign. We raised £110 and received an additional £100 from the Aagean Sol Network. So far this has purchased 132 pairs of knickers and we are looking to buy some toiletries this week with some of the remaining money. Any extra will go to rents etc, as mentioned in the Facebook appeal.

Thanks so much to everyone who donated, we had lots of happy customers, and plenty left for other women who we expect to be serving in the next week or so. 

A handbook

In between all this I finally got to meet Brittany and her gorgeous baby Ariyan. We talked about what was needed to help operations run more smoothly on the ground, and among other things we agreed to write up a CRIBS Handbook – to get all this extensive information from people’s minds into a document that can be used by others to run things day-to-day. 

In addition, my time has been spent creating processes and policies to make life easier for everyone. It may sound boring to some and don’t worry I won’t go into detail, but I love coming up with something that I know will make things much simpler and save so much time! 

This has of course been broken up with more lovely food and chai from Shazia, as well as a much needed visit to the island of Evia to visit Mary Dallas and have a break from the madness of Athens!

One week left – I don’t know where the time has gone, and lots to do in this last week, but feeling very happy to be part of such wonderful and essential work.