This past week Hanan Ashegh, GWC’s Founder and Executive Director, lead a monitoring and governance review of our operations in Greece, including of our Legal Office, Medical Office, Shelter, Aid Distribution Centre, education/vocational programs, and other projects. Typically, these reviews take place every 6 to 8 weeks and they are a great chance to reach out to the Greek team and learn about the challenges they face and the best ways to support them. A key part of this review also involves connecting up with the beneficiaries of our individual programs and assess their current needs.

This past monitoring and governance review focused especially on the resumption of GWC’s Accompaniment Bus Service Project. In late 2019, GWC started an Accompaniment Bus Service Project to assist refugees living in remote refugee camps in need of transportation to Athens for crucial medical and asylum services/legal appointments – appointments that if they missed, could force them to be stuck in camps for additional years with minimal access to health care, education, and other essential services. Alternative transportation for these persons are either unreliable, unsuitable/untimely, unaffordable, and unsafe due to roadway accidents and possible gang violence while travelling to Athens on foot.

The Project has been the only one of its kind in Athens after the UNHCR stopped providing this service and GWC took on the responsibility. The International Organization for Migration and other prominent partner organisations value the high impact and quality of this service, especially as it addresses one of the main challenges faced by refugees. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 and other regulatory restrictions, we had to pause the programme less than a year after it started. Goodwill Caravan is very pleased to announce the Accompaniment Bus Service Project service will resume in September 2022. To help prepare for this, Hanan Ashegh and key members of Greek team made outreach trips this past week to multiple refugee camps outside of the Athens to conduct needs assessments and share information about GWC’s services, including how to register for the bus service. Families reported that they continue to have little medical or legal support in some of these remote refugee hotspots, and the expectation is the Accompaniment Bus Service Project will be in high demand.