I met with two other members of our eight person team at LAX on Monday afternoon. There to meet us was Cristal Munoz-Logothetis, the founder of Carry The Future (CTF). You can learn more about how she conceived of the idea of babycarriers for refugees and how quickly CTF became an international volunteer organization here.
The long flight from LA to Zurich was deliciously empty. Almost every person in the plane had their own row, or only one neighbor a few seats from them. It was an evening flight. The extra space, my TRTL pillow, and a sleep mask, meant I was actually able to sleep for a few hours of the 11 hour flight.
We had a five hour layover in Zurich. We had flown through the night into day 2 of the trip and arrived in Zurich around 4pm their time. My friends Marco and René live in a little town just outside of Zurich called Winterthur. I hadn't seen them in 14 years. They were awesome enough to pick us up at the flughafen and entertain us for a bit before the flight to Athens.
This is Courtney and Mary, fellow team members and awesome women. I loved that they were adventurous enough to go through customs in Zurich and willing to meet my friends in a new country based on just my word alone. I knew that Marco and René would not disappoint!
They are just as handsome and funny as I remember them.
Us, in Lucerne, Switzerland, 2002.
Upon arrival we were treated to tapas and prosecco and then cappuccino, Swiss chocolate, and a rhubarb pie.
Best layover of my life. Hands down.
Marco took us on a walk around his new neighborhood in Winterthur, including taking us into some revitalized industrial buildings. This library used to be a giant factory.
He has always had a knack for style, architecture, and good photo ops. These were sound chairs in the library.
When we meet, we try to do a celebratory air jump. This was us in front of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, 2002.
And here's the jump we managed to film in Wintherthur, February 2016.
Us, in Lucerne, Switerland, 2002.
And together again, although so briefly, in February 2016. Thank you Marco and René for your generosity and hospitality. Let's not wait another 14 years to see each other again, eh?
We got back to business with the flight to Athens. At this point we connected with a fourth team member, Heather, and we all flew the evening flight to Greece. When we landed in Greece we were the last ones in the airport.
There was four of us and 700lbs of baby carriers.
Pro tip for anyone reading this who plans to go on a future distribution trip with CTF: show up in Athens with Euros, including coins. Our credit cards wouldn't work in the Smart Cart machines. Also, find the guy who can grab the really, really, REALLY big luggage cart to help you move the carriers through customs and out to the waiting Opa! taxi. He charges a fee per bag. Bring Euros! (Don't wait to get them in the airport at Athens. None of the ATMs worked.)
After finally connecting with the really-big-cart-guy, we made it to our awaiting taxi which chugged along slowly under the weight of all those glorious carriers and 45 minutes after that we made it to our hotel. Of course all 700lbs of carriers needed to be stored. Some bags fit in the hotel's luggage room but most had to be hauled into the teeny-tiny European elevators and then dragged to our various rooms.
It was finally around 5:00am local time when I managed to get some sleep. We had a morning meeting scheduled at 9:00am. Sleep is overrated. Coffee is your friend.
Bright and early at the beginning of day three, 7 of the 8 of us finally got to meet. This is Leah, Heather, Amy, Courtney, Mary, and me. Lulu is taking our picture. Our 8th member, Jennifer, had been delayed getting out of Boston thanks to a snow storm.
After some quick how-do-you-do's and breakfast, we headed out to Port Piraeus, the port of Athens.
Each of us took turns lugging the bags the two and a half miles to the dock where the first ferry with refugees would arrive that day.
The weather was glorious. It felt good to be around boats.
We waited in the terminal and admired some of the artwork drawn by refugee children in transit. Soon, the boat approached.
See that ramp that is lowering? 1,000 refugees were about to deboard.
This is the last photo I took because I started fitting carriers as soon as families with children were within reach.
It was a flurry of activity for the entire time we had access to refugees with small children. For about an hour we worked non-stop fitting the right carrier to the right-size/age of each child.
Because I couldn't stop to take photos, the next picture in my camera is this.
We were just one of many volunteer groups present. This food was provided by a grassroots organization called Projekt Soup-Port (soup-port...support, get it?)
I highly suggest you check out their Facebook page. It is filled with cheery photos of young people feeding the hungry.
Our awesome team photographer, Lulu, was able to document day three and all the baby carrier fittings we did.
She'll be posting her photos soon, and I promise to update and show you the work we are doing. I have these three as proof that I worked my ass off on day three. Never been happier to work so hard.
That evening we reconvened at the hotel and finally got to meet our eighth team member, Jennifer.
Dinner didn't end our day though. After that bit of down time we had a late-night pow wow to de-brief and practice different carries for mei tais and the soft structured carriers we work with.
I'm very tired. This post is probably not that eloquent but I hope the photos have been able to show you the first three days (two of which were travel just to get here.)
Lulu's video will give you an idea of what we do when the ferries arrive. One of our team members, Heather, shared these words that I believe coincide beautifully with the video.
"My favorite professor says, we influence the small circle that we can. Then small individual acts of justice and love fall like drops of rain to the earth and all together they become a flowing river that waters the earth with love...small individual acts of justice and love...one drop of rain at a time.
Thanks to all my friends and family for helping me Carry The Future.