Rotarians work together to help Syrian refugees

ROTARIANS in Worthing and Littlehampton have linked with others in Greece to provide shelter for refugees.

Paul Muzzall, second right, with Chris, Laura and Joel Jepson

Tents and sleeping bags gathered by West Worthing Rotary Club have been delivered to Mytilene on the island of Lesvos, with the help of Littlehampton Rotary Club.

Members of Koropi Rotary Club and Mitilene Rotary Club in Greece are now organising the distribution to needy families who have escaped from north Africa and the Middle East.

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Maria Mastora, Rotary International assistant governor and representative of Koropi Rotary Club, said: “The refugee crisis has no borders. Tormented people and families are escaping wars and other conflicts leaving everything behind.

Working with DHL which charged for only four of the nine pallets, sending the other five for free

“Even the slightest and smallest offer that could make their journey to safety easier is of great value. We are very proud that Rotary has been a part of this effort.”

The journey began in Broadwater in October, when St Mary’s Church was offering around 70 eight-man tents for humanitarian aid.

The tents had been donated by High Adventure Outdoor Education Centre in Yorkshire, where Chris Jepson, the brother of St Mary’s families minister Paul Muzzall, is a director.

The offer was taken up by George Barton on behalf of West Worthing Rotary Club.

Professor Grigoris Grtigoropoulos, governor for Rotary's Southern Greece District, Koropi Rotarian Maria Mastora and Lesvos vice-mayor Nikolaos Karasavvas in the warehouse

He said: “The St Mary’s congregation then collected enough money for the hire of a van to bring the tents, which now numbered 103, along with 270 sleeping bags, down to London and into the hands of the Rotary club.

“West Worthing Rotary organised through its International arm the transport of the much-needed aid to Greece, where the island of Lesvos was under particularly punishing pressure caused by a huge influx of Syrian refugees.”

The West Worthing club paid for the tents to be transported but needed help with paying for the sleeping bags to be sent. It appeal to Littlehampton Rotary Club had an immediate effect.

Geoff Watts, chairman of the community service committee at Littlehampton Rotary, said: “George Barton asked if we could assist with funding the transport costs through DHL, which would be £600. Littlehampton Rotarians voted in favour of assisting with the shipping costs.

West Worthing Rotary Club president Dr Sue Virgo and Littlehampton Rotary Club president Mike Findlay shake on the agreement

“This is a great example of co-operation between two Rotary clubs.”

Nine pallet loads of supplies arrived in Greece on November 21, welcomed by Maria, Rotary International district governor Grigoris Grigoropoulos and Mitilene Rotarians. They will ensure a fair distribution to desperate and genuine refugees.

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