Iris Center Chios Update

💚 Dear all friends and supporters. It’s been a while, but here’s an update from the team on the island 💚

Per now there are 714 regfugees registered in Vial camp on Chios. In addition there are more than 100 apartments around the island, where several families often live together. Many refugees have left the island for mainland Greece the last year.

– The situation is very bad. People are sent to Thessaloniki, but they don’t have anywhere to stay there, Shirley, one of the volunteers, tells.

For now there are four organizations working on the island of Chios. Offene Arme are giving out clothes, Refugee Biriyani & Bananas are distribution food packages, One Family – No Borders are taking people to the dentist and we, The Iris Center Team, are distribution toiletries and equipment for new born babies.


Seeking safety in Greece as an refugee leaves you with two options – either you grant asylum, and then have 30 days before you have to manage on your own, or you get rejected, and have the possibility to appeal.

– When you get rejected the first time, they take your cash card and food card. Appealing costs 250 dollars, Shirley explains.

– People are trying to keep up their hope to get asylum, but what are they supposed to do when they take you cash card and you don’t have the money to appeal?, she asks.

But granting asylum in Greece dosen’t solve any problems either, Shirley tells us. Before 2019 you had the right to 6 months of support after you granted asylum. Now it’s 30 days.

That means families end up on the street or have to live in small apartments with friends.

– There are no possibilities in Greece when you grant asylum. There are no jobs. You just have your documents, and then you have to go.

As a result, many people who have left the island come back to Chios after some time because they don’t know what to do. Shirley is in despair for the people she meets.

– People have kids – they need money for food, for house rent, for pampers. What are they supposed to do?


Shirley herself has been working with Iris for over two years, and tells about the endless wait.

She arrived in December 2018. After 6 months in the camp she got her first interview, and the second after 9 months. One year later she got her decision. Then she had to wait 8 more months to take fingerprints for the refugee-ID card. Then it took 1 year and 3 months to get the refugee-ID card.

Now the next step is taking fingerprints for her greek passport. In total it’s been 2 years and 6 months, and all she can do is wait.

– I don’t have the time to go to the office and push my case, because I work.

Shirley hopes to soon get her passport so that she can travel to another country and seek asylum there. Her daugther back home in Kamerun is sick, but getting a job in Greece so that she can support her daugther is impossible. But giving up is not an option for Shirley.

– What I can’t change, I can’t change. That’s why I don’t bother myself. I will come out of this situation some time – but it’s only God who can do it. If you spend your time thinking of things you can’t change, you might die.

Many refugees are so tired, she tells.

– The government say its two weeks, but then it takes two months. What will you eat, what will you wear? People are very frustrated and confused. People are tired.


The Iris Team have two people on the ground working – Shirley and Ali, both of them waiting for their passport, which they have done for years already.

The Iris Team needs support to be able to continue the work. Because of the pandemic it’s been few volunteers, and the ones keeping the wheel going are Ali and Shirley alone.

Without all their working hours Iris would cope. Therefore Iris pays some of their house rent including some food and taxi-money so that they get around with the donations. In addition Iris pays a montly container-rent where we keep the clothing donations.

– People ask if I don’t get tired. I answer that I came here to work, Shirley says.

Janne Hegna, the founder of the Iris Team, has been living in Chios for more than four years, but now she’s home in Norway. She says Iris have been lucky the last couple of months.

– We’ve been lucky, and people have been donating pretty big sums.

But now she is worried about the amount of donations and the refugees situation.

– You can’t manage, but you have to, in some way, she says.

Shirley agrees.

– We have met so many families that would not have hope if we didn’t meet them. Our goal is to help them, and we’re happy to be a part of their life.


So what is needed in the time to come?

Iris don’t have the opportunity to distribute clothes, because the police don’t want any crowds due to corona. But we need money for toiletries and pampers. That’s our highest priority, both in Vial and the city. We also need clothes for new born baby girls.

If you have the opportunity to donate money, we appreciate it very much. If not, we would be so grateful if you could share the message with your friends and families.

If you want to donate summer clothes/shoes or newborn baby girl clothes, please send us a message with what you have and we will give you the address.

If you’re a refugee living on the island who need toiletries or have a newborn, please send us your needs and your location.

Thank you to all of our supportes out there 💚

/The Iris Team <3

Vipps nummer: 584206
Account number: 1506.27.12330

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Iris Center Update

Dear all Iris center friends 🙏🌷🥰

I want to say thank you so much to all of you for doing an amazing job in this surreal time. I want to say a special thank you so much to sister Shirley and sister @Ruhi Lauren Akhtar for continue to do aid distribusjons under the current difficult circumstances. Without their heroic effort the Iris center team would not be able to help 🙏🥰

We’re facing so difficult times this days and it’s very important we stay together and support each other 🌷
I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you guys in the camp. I daily get messages from people in need of everything and they tell me about that they’re starving 😓
We’ve had the possibility to distribute some strollers in Vial, and we’re constantly working on distributing aid to the people in need …

We also do distributions in the apartments as usual with toiletries, pampers, milk powder and porridge powder. We continue helping mothers giving birth at the hospital with toiletries, pampers, clothes and strollers.
Iris center teams work is a collaborative project without all our supporters, friends, donations of aid and money we would not be able to help – a big thank you so much to all of you 🙏🌷🥰

Thank you so much to the other organizations we cooperate with:
✨ Our Czech friends
✨ Carry The Future
✨ Chios Eastern Shore Response Team – CESRT
✨ Støttegruppa for Iris senter
✨ Refugee Biriyani & Bananas
✨ and many good hearted friends

Thank you so much to all Iris center team members – together we’re stronger 💪😍

Stay safe, take care with clean hands 🙌🙏🥰

We always need donations so please donate if you’ve the possibility 🙏

Every penny is used where it’s most needed for our sisters and brothers on the run 👍🌷

Thank you so much in advance 🌈

The Iris center team is an registered Norwegian NGO situated on Chios, Greece. 921832559
Account number 1506.27.12330
International account number
NO77 1506 2712 330
BIC (Swift-address) DNBANOKKXXX
Vipps nr 584206
PayPal account

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Happy Easter 🐇🐥🐣🥰

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Dear all Iris Center supporters

Dear all supporters of Iris center team 🙏🌷

Yesterday the team distributed men’s clothes to about 120 men in Vial. We prioritized the new arrivals from the last weeks. Because the Iris center team are so honored to have residents from Vial in the team, we’re able to locate the new arrivals the day after they’re arrived and have been registered and give them what they need.

We gave out:
– trousers
– shorts
– t-shirts
– shirts
– belts
– traditional dresses
– shoes

Thank you so much to our friends from Germany, “The Refugees Foundation” and UK, “The Ripple Effect, Lancaster”. Without donations from you, we would not be able to help our sisters and brothers on the run. Thank you so much 🙏

As usual under a distribution, we chat with people in the line. The team found out that the new arrivals needed toiletries and strollers. Thus, we decided there and then, to hurry back to the container area and pick up strollers and distribute them. We also decided to give out toiletries to the new arrivals today.

We ended our day eating dinner at the cozy taverna Pinaleon in Karfas. The dinner was a donation from Sølvi Sinkaberg and her organisation, HÅP!
Sølvi and her organisation have supported the team for more than a year and is Iris center teams spinal cord 🙏🌷🙌💕

Please feel free to donate to our work for refugees on Chios:

Vipps: +47-90558699

Thank you so much in advance 🙏

Janne Hegna
Iris Center, Chios

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Thank you for all donations !

Yesterday the team cleaned and sorted a lot of toys that we’ll distribute one of the days. The spring is coming so the weather is getting warmer. The team wanted to go for a swim. We went to Karfas beach 🏝. Afterwards, we went to Limoni Taverna for a late lunch. A great taverna in Karfas.

Today the team distributed kids clothes to more than 200 kids in Vial, kids clothes to people in two locations outside Vial. The kids was so happy to get nice summer clothes donated from the German “Refugees Foundation”.

We visited the mother with the new-born twins. It turned out that she didn’t have any milk powder or food 😓 So we went and bought it for her.

I’m so happy that the Iris center team are able to react and fill the gaps when we discover them.

Thanks to all the donations from the amazing Iris center team supporters, we can do our best for our sisters and brothers on the run – EVERY DAY 🙌💗😃

Janne Hegna,
Iris Center, Chios

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Hard working team and friends

The hard working Iris center teams goal yesterday was to empty one of our containers.

The team have received a lot of aid from our German friends, “The Refugees Foundation” and also from Ruhi Loren’s organization “Refugee Biriyani & Bananas”. The team have distributed a lot of this tings to the apartments, the Albanian families and in Vial. So we was able to reduce the amount of containers. We pay a monthly rent for the containers so by empty one container we’ve more money to spend on the refugees.

The plan for next week is to distribute as much as possible of the summer clothes to Vial, the Albanian families and the apartments. We’ll also give out crocs to women and children.

The Iris center team will follow up the single twins mother and probably already today a woman will come and help and live with her and the lovely babies 🙏👶💕👶💕

So many to thank just now:
– Thank you so much amazing Shirley for making this happen.
– Thank you so much to Amir Sharify, Prince Baktash Hadis, Zuhor and Abu for emptying the container.
– I’ll also use the opportunity to say a thank you so much to the Norwegian support group, “Støttegruppa for Iris senteret” for a lot of aid and also donations.
– Thank you so much to HÅP and Sølvi for following up the twins mother.
– Thank you so much to Selina Ingram for donating her birthday gift to the Iris center teams work.
– Thank you so much to Inger-Lise Gabrielsen for donations so we can distribute Crocks to women and kids in Vial.
– And also all the other Iris center supporters.



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Newborn twins

Yesterday, Mette and Inger-Lise  visited a refugee mother with newborn twins, and this is their summary:

“We have been visiting the mother with the small newborn twin boys today. The mother seemed to be quite okay after her caeserian. She was smiling, giving her boys all the attention they needed. She asked for some clothes for herself, and it is being taken care of. The boys need something for the stroller when they are to be taken out, but they are too small and tiny for what is available at this time. We have gotten some money from friends for buying what they still need, and we will do so next week.

It was a pleasure to visit her. Some pictures here, published with the mother’s blessing.”

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Iris Center filling gaps in the refugee work

The Iris centers policy is to help those who needs it and fill gap concerning the refugees crisis on the island of Chios and also others in need.

Wednesday 24th April the team prepared and distributed clothes for women and men at two locations outside the camp. It’s about 30 families that for some reason is moved from Vial to an apartment or actually in many cases only a small room. The reason can be new born baby or babies, some kind of illness, disabilities of different kinds, war wounds etc.

Because it’s not so many people they’ve more time to choose items and we’ve more time to talk with people which is very nice.

Many of the families in the apartments feel forgotten… In Vial they’ve their community, friends and volunteers helping them with clothes and toiletries.

The Iris center team will follow up the apartments closely with aid and also help with other things if it’s needed as the twins mother.

While distributing to the apartments we found out that a mother didn’t had any food… We went to the supermarket and bought what she needed.

Yesterday 25th April we distributed women’s clothes to the new arrivals in Vial and also some more summer items to the women that needed.
Amir made a list over the new arrivals that needed strollers and baby clothes. We went back to the container area and prepared and picked up what was needed and went back back to Vial to distribute it.

The strollers to the new arrivals in Vial and the food to the twins mother are donated by Kristin Omnes and Thora Lise Roppestad. The clothes are donated by the German team Refugee foundation and The ripple effect, Lancaster.

To be able to help our sisters and brothers on the run – we’re completely dependent on the amazing Iris team supporters. The team needs donations but we also appreciate so much all the good words from you. It gives so much energy and makes us go on every day.


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A new volunteer from Norway Mette Gulbrandsen

Yesterday 23th April the Iris center team started the day welcoming a new volunteer from Norway Mette Gulbrandsen – thank you so much for joining the team again. We’re looking so much forward to working with you.

Every morning we’ve a morning meeting where we decide who is going to do what. Yesterday we decided to store all our winter clothes to one container, because the weather is getting warmer. Amir, Baktash, Rabi, and Zohur wanted to take the responsibility for this.

Shirley is the toiletry coordinator and take care off the toiletries and make sure we don’t run out of some items. Yesterday she prepared toiletries to the six Albanian families and to the single mother with the new born boys. She also prepared a big bag with clothes to them.

Mette and I picked up Abu and bought a twins baby stroller to the mother with the boys. We had all the tings for the mother in the car and went to the hospital.

We got very surprised – the mother has left the hospital and she gave birth 19th April. We started to look for her and found her in an apartment with to new born babies 2kg and 45cm. She had a cesarean section of twins and still had to leave the hospital after only four days…

All the clothes was to big – so we bought some premature clothes for the babies. We’ll help her as much as possible.

In the end of the day we gave out toiletries to the Albanian families.

Thank you so much to everybody that support our team 🙏🌷💕

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Clothes to all the kids in Vial refugee camp

Yesterday the 22th April the Iris center team distributed clothes to all the kids in Vial refugee camp on Chios island, Greece.

We gave out –
– Underwear
– socks
– skirts
– trousers
– t-shirts
– jumpers
– shorts
– jackets
– tights
– summer hats
– caps
– shoes
– baby clothes

The mother or father could pick 5 items to each kid. Some kids came as well and was so happy to have the opportunity to pick summer clothes. We also visit the 6 Albanian families that lives in plastic bags houses close to Vial.

We visited our faithful supporter Sølvi – with her amazing Iris center support group – HÅP. She and her group help us whenever we ask. Thank you so much.
The wether is getting warmer and it’s very sunny when we do the distribution, so the team decided to buy sunglasses 😎 🕶

We also distributed clothes and stroller to a new born baby in Vial refugee camp. The new born babies and the mother was transferred to apartments before – now many of them have to go back to Vial only 4 days after they have given birth…

The clothes we gave out yesterday is donated from our German friends Refugee foundation and the UK team the Ripple effect Landcaster.

We ended the day with dinner paid by donations from Big mama and Kristin Omnes.

Thank you so much!

Thank you so much to all Iris center team supporters for supporting us – without you we would not have the opportunity to help our sisters and brothers on the run.

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Women clothes distribution

Iris center team distributed clothes to all the women in Vial refugee camp on Thursday.

The clothes was given by the Refugee foundation from Germany.

We gave out
– trousers
– leggings
– scarfs
– tops
– abajas
– jumpers
– bra
– underwear

Thank you so much to all that made the distribution possible!

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