Life in refugee camps highlighted by Carrick aid worker

Connor Kerr.  INCT 43-732-CON
Connor Kerr. INCT 43-732-CON

The grim reality of life in some of Europe’s refugee camps has been highlighted by a Carrickfergus humanitarian aid worker.

Connor Kerr, 26, is currently volunteering in Greece with aid group, A Drop in the Ocean.

The Norwegian organisation works alongside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Red Cross and to assist people in the most extreme need.

A former pupil of Carrickfergus Grammar, Connor was involved in charitable projects in Asia before hearing about the group’s work in a podcast during a visit home.

Previously based in southern Greece outside of a town called Sounio, he is currently managing a clothing distribution warehouse for essential need textiles and other supplies on the Macedonian border.

“We sort and pack many tonnes of clothes every week and supply both camps nearby with what they need, including blankets, sleeping bags, rugs, towels and so on,” said Connor, whose background in hairdressing also came in handy at the camps after the donation of a hairstyling kit from Belfast-based Elizabeth Ann Hair.

He added: “Every Wednesday and Sunday we also pack and distribute vegetables to 2000 people in the camp alongside some personal and environmental hygiene supplies like bleach, toothpaste and women’s sanitary pads.”

With winter approaching, conditions can often be cold, wet and windy.

However, it is the stories of those living in the camps which has struck a cord with Connor and the other volunteers.

“I would love to say that people’s stories of missing loved ones, their journeys and their losses gets better or easy with time. It does not,” said Connor.

“It’s distressing to see people living in tents in the mud, in the cold and so far removed from their previous lives. It’s sad to see people that are stuck, people with very little hope sometimes.

“I feel as I work here with an amazing team of volunteers that our continued work with residents is providing a little of that hope that has been lost.

“A Drop In The Ocean have been an amazing source of support on this front; a psychologist is on call at all times for the team here.”

Connor, who has self funded his trip to Greece, including travel, accommodation and food, is now hoping to raise funds towards A Drop In The Ocean’s continuing work in the country.

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/connorgreece

You can also follow video diary entries and updates on Connor’s Facebook page.