Pikpa is an open, self organised refugee camp on the south eastern coast of Lesvos, a stones throw from the airport and a short distance from the main town centre, Mytilene. The collective of volunteers are squatting on municipality ground since 2012.
Of all the camps we saw, Pikpa has the nicest vibe. It is directly opposite the sea, shrouded by Olive Trees and fronted by an enormous shipping container full of supplies provided by CalAid. The Wordwide Tribe prepared the gravel base for the container to rest upon. The success of this camp is down to communal cooperation.
The volunteer team here is more fluid, given this is not an NGO dominated space. Volunteers arrive and set to work on whatever they feel is needed to be done. And there is much to be done, from warehouse sorting, to recycling / composting / gardening, playground construction, cooking, physical and mental health care, medical intervention – the list is endless.
Donations waiting to be sorted at Pikpa. December 2015.
The kitchen at Pikpa can serve thousands of meals a day. Like a military operation, the lovely ladies who we met were quickly dispatching hot wholesome food, much of which will be distributed in other Mytilene camps such as Kara Tepe and Moria. Meals are high in protein and frequently feature rice, pasta and lentils. When we were visiting there were enormous vats bubbling away, and we later saw these same meals being distributed at Moria.
Meals ready for distribution – Pikpa, December 2015.
Pikpa cares for the most vulnerable refugees on Lesvos. The sick, families of the deceased, single parent families, families with multiple children. When we visited they had around 70 people in the camp, many of whom were in the process of claiming asylum.
The camp is solely funded by donations, and resources are tight. They need interpreters, nurses and a full time warehouse manager. As the requirements are fluid, they ask future volunteers and fundraisers to check in with them frequently to establish what’s on the needs list. When we were there elasticated waist trousers, shoes and back packs were on the wish list.
Any volunteer arriving on Lesvos would find Pikpa as a great place to start their volunteering journey. Contact them through their facebook page.
Photography copyright Brian Rutter | Kincaid Photography