Our Deliveries to

Greece

Susan Beer

2016

Greece, Susan Beer, Autumn 2016

The chronology below details conversations regarding the shipment of 1,378 items intended for migrants trapped in Greece. The shipment left Denver on October 8, 2016. As of this writing (November 26, 2016), the items have still not been released by Greek Customs. On a personal note, you may want to know that Susan Beer and I (Susan McKee) have never met in person. Susan read about Knitting4Peace in a magazine and contacted me by email in February 2016. Our correspondence led to several shipments of Peace Pals that Susan delivered to migrant children in Athens during the late winter, spring, and summer. Anticipating freezing winter weather, Susan asked us to send warmer items in mid-September. As the need for these warmer items escalated, we increased our October shipment to 1,378 sweaters, hats, and scarves. The friendship that is evident in the correspondence below has developed because of our work together. We hope we can meet face-to-face one day. In the meantime, we continue our efforts to secure the release of our items from Customs and their delivery to the migrants who so desperately need them.

October 31, 2016

From Susan Beer (Greece) to Susan McKee (Knitting4Peace):

Dear Susan,

I just had a conversation with Mrs. Adamopoulou , Greek Customs, Athens, she is handling our case. She sounds very reasonable and I believe she is trying to help us. She needs the following documentation faxed to her.

1. A letter from you, on K 4 P letter head, stating what the organization does, that all goods are donated to K 4 P by women knitting them and then distributed to people in need around the world, etc...you know what to say here much better than I. Mrs A. stipulated that this needs to be "exactly by law," so I think this would be where you would include the status that you have as a non profit.

Also, you need to include that your work is carried out by delivery agents around the world and that I am one of those delivery agents, delivering needed warm items to the refugees in northern Greece( need to stipulate where the items are going(I think you could include the page about how we do the work, the one that lists the delivery agents on the side , highlight my name.

Include the previous papers I asked for, invoice (only if it shows K 4 P clearly), customs doc, bill of lading .

I hope this is it and that she approves it. Let me know when you fax it , number of pages and I'll call her to make sure she has received all pages.

Thanks for all of your help with this, it is pouring rain all over Greece and getting cold.

Love, Susan

October 31, 2016

From Susan McKee to Susan Beer:

Good morning, Susan ~

It is still dark here. PakMail will open in a couple hours. I don’t know how long it will take for them to locate the documents we need.

I’ll keep you posted as we make progress.

I’m surrounding Mrs. Adamopoulou with prayers . . . prayers for compassion and generosity of spirit.

Sending my love,

Susan

October 31, 2016

From Susan McKee to Susan Beer:

My dear friend,

I am attaching a draft letter. Please read it and let me know what I should amend to be more acceptable to our Customs official, Mrs. Adamopoulou.

I have not received the additional documents we need from my shipper. Hopefully I will have those by the time you are able to read the attached letter and send me your suggestions for corrections.

I am holding all of this in my heart and my most expansive cosmic embrace.

I also hold you . . . this must be even more stressful for you than it is for me. I send you stamina, courage, anger (per my Newsletter today!), and always abiding hope,

Susan

November 1, 2016

From Susan Beer to Susan McKee:

Dear Susan,

I think the letter is fine, covers all that she asked for, at least in my understanding. As soon as you have all the other documents, let's give it a go. Please have a cover page with the fax so she knows exactly how many pages to expect. Let me know when you fax it and I will follow up with a phone call to see that she has all pages.

My fingers may never come uncrossed, my constant state of prayer will remain...always a good idea. I "expect the best" and I never give up!

Love to you on the morning of the day before we begin our olive harvest!

Susan

November 1, 2016
From Susan Beer to Susan McKee:

Dear Susan,

I just read the news letter, watched the videos and although I have been close to these stories , they broke my heart wide open again and I wept with anger, frustration, deep pain.

Hope and resolve to continue this work are alive in me even in the darkness.

Love,

Susan

November 1, 2016

From Susan McKee to Susan Beer:

Dear Susan,

Choosing Hope is an act of Courage.

I salute you, my dear friend.

I am feeling weary — writing the Newsletter was exhausting. I also cried and felt deep, deep anger and frustration.

It gives me strength to know we are in this together.

With deep gratitude for our partnership and our friendship, and sending love,

Susan

November 2, 2016
From Susan McKee to Customs Office, Athens Greece:

November 2, 2016

Mrs. Adamopoulou
Customs Office
Athens, Greece

Re: Knitting4Peace [United States IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit organization #74-3227542]

Dear Mrs. Adamopoulou:

Knitting4Peace is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded on June 25, 2006 that is dedicated to creating and delivering requested items that offer hope, healing, comfort, and peace to marginalized people in communities across the United States, and to families and individuals in global areas of conflict and suffering . . . one person, one stitch, one day and one delivery at a time.

Our membership includes knitters, crocheters, quilters, and weavers who share this common mission, who live in communities across the United States and Canada, and who craft the items we deliver. These crafters receive no remuneration for their work. It is truly a “labor of love” and a sign of their hope for global peace. Over the past 10 years we have delivered items in 67 countries around the world. The complete list, including deliveries we have already completed in Greece, can be found on our website Deliveries Page: http://www.knitting4peace.org/what-we-do/deliveries.

Susan Beer has been our delivery partner in Greece for the past nine months. We have shipped 600 Peace Pals to her for delivery to migrant children. In September we shipped 41 hand-knit sweaters donated by members from Ohio who wanted to provide warm clothing to migrants in the Thessaloniki region. The shipment currently in your care includes 1,378 hats, scarves, and sweaters that were created by our members who also want to provide comfort, warmth, and hope for migrants in refugee camps in northern Greece.

I thank you for your consideration. We are merely trying to relieve some of the suffering in our world and work toward greater understanding, compassion, and peace among all the world’s people.

In peace and abiding hope,

Susan McKee

Founder & Contemplative Activist

www.knitting4peace.org

[email protected]ng4peace.org

303-918-4617

Attached: Shipping Fee Invoice and (7) Commercial Invoices for the contents of each box shipped.

November 2, 2016
From Susan McKee to Susan Beer:

Dear Susan,

I do not have fax capability in my tiny office. I regularly use a nearby business. They tried several times to send the fax this afternoon, but the number never seemed to work. They said their system tried for so long, "it went to sleep.” Would an international Customs office shut down its fax machine at night? I can’t imagine that, but I also can’t imagine why the number didn’t work.

I will go back again tomorrow at 8 am when they open. That will be 4 pm in Athens.

Wish me luck. If you have any other ideas, send them. I’ll check my emails before I head out tomorrow morning.

I’m feeling very weary. This has been quite an ordeal. And then I think about the ordeal the migrants have endured. And all the migrants who died trying. And I take a deep breath. I move on again tomorrow, with HOPE in my heart.

Sending love and prayers,

Susan

November 2, 2016
From Susan Beer to Susan McKee:

Dear Susan,

So sorry this has become such an ordeal. I do not know why the fax is not going thru. I just checked all dialing instructions again on line and they are correct. I will check again with Mrs A as soon as the offices open here, 0800. It is now 0642 AM here so in a couple of hours.

I will review the email with all the other docs now and reply immediately.

Second day of harvest begins in 45 minutes. Three workers will arrive, another's Mother died last night so we will be 4. I am missing my daughter tremendously this year as she usually runs the harvest, is a work horse and it's just not the same without her. This is an off year for us, large year, small year but the work is the same, spreading of huge tarps, every tree to go thru no matter how many olives they have and many more chores associated with the work. We harvest by hand, we grow organically, and take many more steps than most farmers in our immediate area. We love the work, but it is hard, physically grueling and at the end of a long day, I am beat! I loved your comment about harvest...everyone who has never done it sees it that way...it is fun for about a half an hour, then it's work. We have 93 trees. We are truly blessed even all the time we complain!! :)

Love,

Susan

November 3, 2016
From Susan McKee to Susan Beer:

Attached please find:

- a cover letter to Mrs. Adamopoulou from Susan McKee (Knitting4Peace Executive Director)

- an invoice for shipment to Greece of seven (7) boxes containing knitted hats, scarves, and sweaters (Humanitarian Donations for Refugees. Not for resale.)

- seven (7) Commercial Invoices for each of the (7) boxes.

Please confirm receipt of this email and all attachments.

Thank you very much.

In peace,

Susan

November 4, 2016

From Susan Beer to Susan McKee:

Hello dear friend,

I have not reached her, left for the press very early this AM, called her twice from there and once when I returned home before quitting time ..2:00. She must have taken the day off, Friday, not unusual here, one of the reasons there is so much criticism here of the civil servants...usually guaranteed job until retirement, which has been very early for women, come and go as they please, etc,. etc. So, I am so sorry I have nothing to report and now it will be Monday before we will know any thing. I was so angry when I couldn't reach her today, angry that she didn't even respond as to receiving email, angry that thousands of refugees freezing in the north of Greece do not seem to matter, no sense of urgency.... and then I found my self with a lot of anger and had to let go. So, I will begin again on Monday morning...I am so sorry.

May peace be with both of us until then,

Love,

Susan

November 6, 2016
From Susan McKee to Susan Beer:

Sending prayers . . . prayers for Mrs A . . . prayers for you . . . prayers for all the migrants . . . prayers for our broken world . . . prayers that we might be a glimmer of Light in a very dark place.

With much love,

Susan

November 9, 2016

From Susan Beer to Susan McKee:

Dear Susan,

On an already completely disheartening day, Greek Customs has added a new demand. Despite the paper work you sent, which they did receive and finally review, they will not release the shipment to me because Knitting 4 Peace is not authorized aid organization, authorized by the Greek government to operate in Greece. The new demand is that either I donate the goods to an organization that is authorized to operate in Greece or I pay the taxes and duties to have the shipment released, or return it to you. They were suppose to call me back today to tell me the total amount due,,. they did not call.

I have done the following: I have asked the woman who is running the distribution program in Thessaloniki to find out if one of the authorized NGO'S up there would receive this shipment for her in their name. She works with one of the Spanish orgs and I know they are great and would be good to work with if they would help. I also called an aid worker that I know from distributing Peace Pals in the Port of Piraeus to see if she could find an authorized group who could help, she is trying, knows many groups who are operating here.

The alternative would be paying taxes and duties or have the shipment returned to you.

I don't know how you feel about either of these three options, so I am asking for your guidance.

I am so sad and sorry about all of this, but I am not ready to give up unless you direct me to do so.

Trying right now to see some light in an otherwise very dark day...I loved the Knitting 4 Peace fb post.

Love to you from me here on the bay,

Susan

November 11, 2016
From Susan Beer to Susan McKee:

Dear Susan,

Just a brief update:

After speaking with Customs yesterday, I began reaching out to people I know here for contacts in organizations that may be registered with the Greek government and of possible help to us.

Save The Children responded that they cannot accept donations of clothing.

Three others have not responded yet, Solidarity Now, Praxis, and the Salvation Army.

I did have a response from a woman who works with a Christian Church program, a non profit organization. She is willing to try, will go to customs, see if she can get the shipment, leave her car at the car rental at the airport (customs is at the airport) rent a larger car, pick up the boxes , drive them to the post, mail them to Thessaloniki, take the rental car back, get her car and call it a day! What an amazing woman!! Of course I will pay her for the car rental and the postage.

I just hope and pray that it will work.. she says " no worries we can do this with the help of God"

I told her I believe this with all my heart and she messaged me back "Then ...Amen"

I met her thru a group on fb called Immigrant and Refugee Support Group in Athens. I posted about our problem and she responded. A few other responses, but none that have led anywhere.

So, Monday I will be back in touch with Customs to see if she will pass their demands.

Please keep us in your prayers, I know you have never ceased.

Love to you tonight from me here on the bay,

Susan

November 15, 2016

From Susan Beer to Susan McKee:

Dear Susan,

I am writing from a very exhausted space, but will do my best to report.

Worked in the orchards all day, gathering and burning the pruned branches as our pruner worked his way around the land. There is at least one more day of this and then two days of workers cultivating in the fertilizers. I also help with this, measuring the dosages as we go around and give to each tree. It's a process!!

Spoke with customs last on Thursday, when they re iterated that the organization accepting the shipment must be recognized by and registered with the Greek Govt. so I know the church group will not be accepted.

I have been in touch with a few groups and now have hope for one called Solidarity Now. They and a few others were recommended to me by a group in Athens called Immigration and Refugee Support in Athens. I am in touch with them via fb where they have a page and I know some of the people who are part of this group.

I have been trying to reach K. Adamopoulou since Friday and have had no success. No one answers at her office, Friday, yesterday or today. They may be closed ( many things are) because as you may know, our dear President is here in Greece for a two day visit, meetings with the Prime Minister , President, speaking engagement, etc. Because of this Athens is on lock down. No public transport, no access to the airport, no flights in or out until late tomorrow afternoon, no public gatherings, no demonstrations, many areas of the city completely closed off. Many schools and universities are closed, all metro stations are closed, Acropolis and its museum are closed and on goes the list. Thus , I think customs office may also be closed.

I spoke by phone with Solidarity Now today and sent them an email tonight describing the issue and asked them if they would take our donation. They have an arm in Thessaloniki and I asked if they would be willing to ship the boxes to them. I told them this was urgent and that I hoped for a quick response. I told them about Knitting 4 Peace, our work and what we have done here so far.

My exhausted fingers are crossed and I will let you know as soon as I know anything from anyone.

Now, I will take a shower and drop exhausted in to bed, tomorrow is another work day here on the land.

Love to you my dear friend,

Susan

November 15, 2016
From Susan McKee to Susan Beer:

Dearest Friend,

I send you strength for all you are carrying these days. Your burden is heavy . . . I send you wings of love to sustain and support you.

I found Immigrant and Refugee Support Group in Athens on Fb and have asked to join the group. Whether or not they’ll do so is another matter. I applied as myself. If I’m rejected I can try as K4P, too.

I feel your weariness. The past month has been difficult, but the past week has been excruciatingly difficult and exhausting. Our journey continues, now more than ever. We cannot allow this looming, venal darkness to overcome us. We need to stand together and fight back from the ground of Love and Compassion.

Sending love across the seas,

Susan

November 18, 2016

From Susan Beer to Susan McKee:

My dear Susan,

Your wonderful, warm mail helped heal my heart , saddened by the failure to get the shipment to northern Greece.

I have already started thinking about how we might continue our work here with the aim of getting some items to northern Greece and I am sure there is a way.

One of the organizations I contacted while searching for help is a group called Solidarity Now. They have a presence in Athens, Thessaloniki, and Ioannina (another city in the north west of Greece). I am impressed with the work they are doing and they responded very positively to my request for help, just not quickly enough ..Customs was pushing me to resolve the issue. After receiving your mail last evening, I wrote back to them and asked if their center in Thessaloniki was able to receive shipments from outside of Greece with no customs issues. The man I am corresponding with wrote back with this response:

Dear Susan,

Many many thanks for your very kind offer! We have a presence in Thessaloniki as well as Ioannina in northern Greece and I am sure that your wonderful warm items would give a lot of joy to many of our beneficiaries.

I have forwarded your email to my colleagues in northern Greece, who are more knowledgeable on this matters than myself, and I will get back to you with answers and a proposed action plan.

Thank you once more, any help would be truly appreciated! Congratulations on the wonderful work that you do!!

Best,

Harry

So, I await their reply and hope we may be able to help them.

My other thoughts go right along with yours, smaller shipments, sending them to me ,leaving out the words "c/o of Kardiasmenou Mini Market" just addressing to me at Polulithra-Arkadias 22300 Leonidio ,Greece

I am sure Customs never would have been involved if "Mini Market" had not been in the address, and there were not so many boxes. They never bothered any of the other shipments even with the address "Mini Market", I think the combination was the trigger. So, we have learned something, the hard way, but now we know.

I will let you know as soon as I have a response from them.

Yes, you are right, I am looking forward to some R&R as soon as the harvest work is all finished, then I can concentrate on what I must do to leave here, get to Athens, get on the plane and finally arrive in California for some wonderful days with my daughter. On to Australia for some more wonderful times with my son, daughter in law and my sweet grandson. It seems far off right now, but it is not, I leave here on December 15th!

Thinking of you with love and my hear full of gratitude for our beautiful connection.

Susan

November 24, 2016

From Susan Beer to Susan McKee:

My dear Susan,

First, I hope you are having/had a wonderful, peaceful Thanksgiving with loved ones.

On this Thanksgiving day I took a very long walk and remembered this holiday and how it was celebrated throughout the years in my family. Happy memories of family traditions repeated . It was a sunny day here on the bay, great for a walk and musings.

Now, turning to our ongoing project...an update

So far it has taken two countries, two towns, two major cities and an army of saviors and we are still not finished!!!

The newest request from Customs before they will release the shipment to the Salvation Army is a letter from me donating the shipmen to them. Sounds easy, no problem to write, but it must be signed and stamped by a lawyer who is authorized to sign off on documents relating to government agencies. I wrote the letter, included all the details, three lawyers here turned me down, not authorized to sign. I have sent it to my neighbor/friend a lawyer who lives and works in Athens to see if he can sign off on it, hope to know tomorrow. I also sent a mail to my contact at the Salvation Army to see if he knows a lawyer who could do this ...weary, yes, but I will not give up!

Someday I will be writing to say that the shipment has been released and we will all celebrate!!

Until then, I am sending love to you from me here on the bay...

Susan

November 25, 2016

From Susan McKee to Susan Beer:

My very dear friend,

Can you believe I am chuckling as I read your message? This journey of ours has become a complete farce. How can I not laugh? If I don’t laugh I might cry and it would not be tears of joy!

I am reminded of words from the Apostle Paul . . . “ . . . suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us . . .”

Your endurance is astonishing. You do not give up!

I admire your feisty perseverance.

And I hope onto HOPE. Because there is no other way for spirits like yours and mine.

With you in Hope, Perseverance, Endurance, and much love,

Susan

NOTE: Obviously, this saga is not yet over. We will post another set of emails when the situation has been resolved.

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