Megan Beck, CoFounder and Chief Operating Officer.
Before we existed, before we even had a name, Kaleigh and I schemed and dreamed where we would launch our first project. With one percent of the world’s population forced to flee their homes from systemic violence and environmental disasters, there were no shortage of locations with people in transit, people in need of undies, period products, and condoms.
We selected Greece as our inaugural country for a handful of reasons, many of which are direct consequences of the widely-criticized asylum-granting process, alleged misappropriation of billions of euros within humanitarian aid, and dismal refugee camp/hot-spot conditions. The kind of conditions that lead to one in three inhabitants have witnessed suicide since stepping on European soil.
We were impressed with the Greek population’s compassion and commitment to accommodate. On the level that the island of Lesvos was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for their service to displaced refugees in their community.
Greece was a great choice based on the people who were already in our corner. The Unmentionables has an extensive network of change-makers with experience and intelligence in the current European refugee crisis. Before creating the organization, I spent six weeks in southern Greece specifically to learn and serve displaced communities. With many of our directors and interns living in Europe, our team’s access to Greece was not as geographically challenging as other parts of the world.
When we started conducting needs assessments with displaced asylum-seekers as well as agencies that serve this population, Greece was undergoing a transition in how long refugees were directed to stay in camps. About a year ago, many refugees entering European Union soil via the island of Chios were having applications and paperwork processed within a couple days. Camps were built for a temporary touch-and-go.
Greece has experienced a disproportionate percentage of refugee arrivals compared to other EU member states. As the first point of entry for migrants traveling west, following what’s known as the Balkan Route, Greece is geographically positioned to receive exponentially more refugees than, say, Scandinavia.
Plus, this gorgeous country’s scenic views are a major upside!
The Unmentionables was never going to be a Greece-centered organization. We’ve been building our funding sources, product partnerships and hierarchal capacity with our smart aid model with the goal of launching projects in a second country within our first year of existence. Now, it’s time to share with the public where that will be! Check back next week to find more about our plans to expand!