The Village of Altogether was created in 2012 in order to coordinate the organizations and associations of the island, working in the context of the economic crisis in Greece. Soon afterwards, in response to the growing number of refugees arriving on the island and their housing needs, the site of “PIKPA” was occupied. PIKPA is a space near Mytilene airport which previously operated as children’s camp. The Municipality ceded PIKPA and volunteers transformed the space into hostels for vulnerable groups of refugees and other groups of vulnerable people. As the number of refugees increased, the Village of Altogether was soon found hosting hundreds of refugees at PIKPA, offering medical, psychological and practical assistance. The response of the local community was unprecedented: several members of the church, people from the University of the Aegean and numerous other volunteers all supported feeding the refugees.
By the summer of 2014, PIKPA was hosting 600 refugees a day, even though the capacity was only for 150 people. At this point, PIKPA was also meeting the needs of people outside the camp, responding to the emerging needs of members of the local community who were suffering owing to the economic crisis by providing food and economic assistance to families in poverty. Since the beginning of 2015, vulnerable groups have been hosted at the PIKPA. This includes families of shipwreck victims; patients with chronic diseases; disabled people; pregnant women; women who have just given birth; families with babies and young children; as well as people claiming asylum or family reunification in Europe.
By this time, food distribution was better organized and the small houses were equipped with kitchenettes and heating. We created a communal kitchen where refugees could cook, started Greek and English language lessons, provided medical care and psychological support to our residents.
As the housing conditions and hosting were being improved, we were preparing and distributing to Moria, Kara Tepe and the port up to 2000 meals daily. PIKPA also managed donations and functioned as a central distribution point for the whole island. We also supported the social kitchen, individual volunteers and organizations, who distributed our donations (including food, clothing, personal hygiene products, sleeping bags, tents etc).
Since the number of refugees increased enormously each organization of the Village of All Together focused on their work. The team that took care of the cases in Pikpa , Moria and Kara Tepe centers formed the organization Lesvos Solidarity in order to manage the donations in money and manpower that streamed from every part of the world and to make more effective the assistance for the vulnerable groups of refugees.
The friends and supporters know us as the PIKPA group (the name of the camp in which we operate). In the winter of 2016 we were not allowed by the municipality of Mytilene to use this name any more as it refers to a special service of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.
Thus was born Lesvos Solidarity (former PIKPA camp).