This was the translation of the title of the article about the projectLighten Up Idomeni in the magazine ‘jetzt’. A project which gives back a bit of quality of life for the refugees.
The father of the idea was David Lohmüller, an IHA member who only wanted to spend a week in Idomeni in March 2016. Within a few days he developed his own project together with Petra Voráčková and Erik Marquardt, the project Lighten Up Idomeni.
We supported this project from the very beginning. By the end of April 2016 David, Petra and Erik had to go back home and asked us, the IHA, to take over the project and to keep it alive. There was no question that we would to exactly that, it is a great project.
What is Lighten Up?
Some of th needs of the people in Idomeni are obvious: they need food, sanitation, and weatherproof housing. However, ther is one thing they need even more: a perspective, especially since the closure of the Balkan route. Another thing is also missing when about 12000 people are stuck in a chaotic tent village in the middle of nowhere and that is light.
Besides bonfires and mobile phone lights which need to be charged and queing for this takes hours Idomeni is dark after sun down. The tent is enormous and going to the toilet can be quite a long way. During the night it became obvious that almost no tents had artificial light. The project Lighten Up consitst of the buying and distribution of solar lights and thus paints a smile on people’s faces.
This is what our member and volunteers David Lohmüller picked up on. With the initiative Lighten Up Idomeni he and his supporters collect donations with which they buy simple solar lights. This was a very spontanous idear but by now they distributed a few thousands lights. They bought the lights in a small shop near Idomeni and Lohmüller commented that the shop owner must be making the best buisness of his life, at the moment the search is ongoing for a larger shop in Tessaloniki.
The distribution are as fair as possible and volunteers are checking from time to time where the darkes palces in the camp are. Obviously this means to balance the desire to aid with the desire to protect the refugees privacy. Reactions have been absolutely positive with mayn refugees hugging the volunteers. For David an his team the distribution of the lamps means more than practicl help, it is a symbol because 50 percent of the work of the volunteers is interaction and communication. The lamps give us a great entry to start talking to people and to spread good cheer. He said that it works, that the lamps are not only sprading light but also smiles.
If you are interested in more information about David and his activities you can vistit his blog which also has great photos http://davidlohmueller.com/lighten-up/.Furthermore, David also made some great videos one of which you can view here. Thanks David!