The autumn of 2018 will see the opening of a new grocery store in Samos town. It will be the first of its kind on the island. It will be for the refugees run by refugees. The shop has been rented and is now in the process of being set up. It is in a very good location on one of the most used routes from the refugee camp into the town centre.
Endless closed doors face us when we arrive in Samos. From its beginnings this shop will have open doors; it will be run by a refugee cooperative and its development over time will hopefully reflect the ambitions and creativity of the thousands of refugees held for up to 2 years or more on the island.
In those conditions we have no control over our lives. We are not consulted. We are never expected to be active in shaping our lives. We are like shadows which don’t really exist. Yet we are also the foundation of the biggest business on the island responsible for the employment of hundreds of people who do things to us without asking.
Open Doors is just a small step to show what we can do and what we are capable of. It will be a place where refugees and locals can come and shop for foods and spices some of which we cannot find on Samos. The food in the camp is disgusting. To survive refugees are buying food and making their own meals. Otherwise they will be hungry.
Our first purpose is to provide a source of good quality food stuffs as cheaply as possible and which try to meet a wide variety of tastes. And true to our name our doors will be open to all and be a place where all people can feel comfortable. Unlike the squalor of the Camp, Open Doors will be a place of dignity, humanity and solidarity.
But without solidarity from near and far we will struggle. We have already secured some donations from friends in Germany which are helping to get us started. But it is expensive to set up a shop in Greece. It is a big boost for us to know that Open Doors has been selected by the School of Social Sciences at Liverpool Hope University, in England, as one of its nominated charities this year.
To meet our costs we are going to need help at least over the first year. We have many expenses at the start in setting up and fitting the shop with shelves and fridges; buying the initial stock, covering the bureaucratic costs of creating the business; and help towards meeting the costs of at least one full time worker. These are just some!
With your help we want to at least feed those who will regularly help us in the shop. We will certainly need an ’emergency store’ where those with nothing can get some basic stuff. We have no doubt that the store will quickly become widely used and visited by the refugees and will come a place where ideas and thoughts are shared. We hope through its own income as well as through donations that the store will be able to help some of these ideas become realities.
Because of our experience of being endlessly ripped off we are totally committed to openness for without it solidarity becomes impossible.
We promise to keep you updated!
Sofiane Ait Chalalet on behalf of the Open Doors co-op.
Here are our bank details for one off or standing order donations:
Name of Bank : Piraeus Bank
address :Them Sofouli 37
Samos 83100 Greece
reference : Open Doors