“We don’t need a reason to help the people” it is the perfect quote to summarize the work done by the πλεκοθμε αλληλεγγύη- Knitting solidarity, an instinctive movement born in Thessaloniki with the aim to help the refugees who come to Idomeni, the village closer the FYROM border and the new crossroad for the refugees who want to reach the North European countries.
The initiative began the last October after the visit to Idomeni of IRINI AKRITIDOU - the founder of this initiative - after witnessing the dramatic conditions of the refugees she decided that was necessary to do something.
The family is the first supporter of our goals, we know it, and her family encouraged her to help the in need refugees “my son is my first supporter but also my mother, she with her fiends started to divide the clothes which arrived in the containers” she says.
Thus, she started to share posts on Facebook about the difficult situation in Idomeni and her will to help the refugees and migrants, and in less than three days the requests of people who wanted to help her were so much that Irini decided to organize the first meeting of the movement.
Since that day the group is growing more and they continue to meet each other onetime per week in different café which gives free space or aid in other ways.
“The owner of this café wanted to help and support us, but he didn’t know how do it neither how to knit and he decided to give us for free all the upstairs space and offer free drinks” says Vasilikh, one of the activist who enjoyed the activity from the beginning.
In the meantime, while chatting and drinking coffee they create hats- gloves - scarves that they later on donate to the refugees in the border. The meeting is also an occasion to continue to gather all the handicraft works done during the rest of the week and to collect and after distribute the balls of wool donated by other people.
In fact, many people are supporting the initiative in many ways “one time a lady went to one bakery to order 200 koulourakia [a typical bread with different staffing inside] to bring them to Idomeni and the owner gave us everything for free, many bakeries and pastry shops donate food for the refugees” continues Vasilikh.
Their action doesn’t end with the handicraft clothes, but also they started to prepare homemade food like biscuits or pieces of cake for the refugees given that the people who are arriving in Idomeni, with the bus from Athens, are always more and sometimes they wait the opening of the border for many hours without eat.
Most of the solidarity and support arrive from Greece, but also from other countries like U.S.A or France, they don’t send only balls of wool but also second hands clothes or new clothes. The network at the moment is bigger than in the beginning, of course, but they still need other volunteer to help the group in Idomeni to distribute the clothes and the food among the refugees but also they need more balls of wool.
The Iron Ladies are not supported by local or international organisations, they are going by themselves to Idomeni, and they will go until it will be possible. They are not scared or worried about a possible closing of the borders and a forthcoming creation of a refugees camp in the city of Thessaloniki or in the neighbouring cities, one of activist says “we will go where the people need our help, where are women and children in need of our support”
If you want to enjoy this action you can contact the Founder via the Facebook group: πλεκοθμε αλληλεγγύη- Knitting solidarity or also take part to the weekly meeting, if you are not able to knit don’t worry how Erietta says “If you want to learn, you will find for sure someone who will teach you. Never give up.”