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Upminster family 'humbled' after volunteering at Greek refugee camp

PUBLISHED: 15:33 12 May 2016 | UPDATED: 16:12 12 May 2016

Randall Cole, his husband Stuart, and their children Benjamin, nine, and Samuel, 6, volunteered at the refugee camp at Piraeus

Randall Cole, his husband Stuart, and their children Benjamin, nine, and Samuel, 6, volunteered at the refugee camp at Piraeus

Archant

A family have spoken of their profound experience volunteering at a camp for Syrian refugees in the Greek port of Piraeus.

Back in March, the Recorder reported how Randall Cole, his husband Stuart and their two children Benjamin, nine, and Samuel, six, made the decision to forgo a traditional beach break and instead help out at one of the inundated refugee camps in the Mediterranean.

After an extensive search, they found a camp which would accept them and so for two weeks – from March 29 – they stayed at the refugee camp at Piraeus to try and help those stranded there.

“We’ll eventually fall back into familiar hectic routines of school runs and sports practice,” said Randall, of Huntsmans Drive, Upminster, upon their return.

“But, in some ways, nothing will ever be the same. We’ve grown, stretched and seen things in slightly different ways. And this is probably even more true for the boys.”

While some parents may balk at the idea of taking their children to a Syrian refugee camp, Randall was astounded by the positivity they found there.

“It was humbling to be treated with such respect and hospitality by those who have so little. They insisted on sharing their water and offering their food rations to me and apologised profusely for not being able to offer me tea.”

Despite being back for a month, Randall is still struggling to find the right words to describe his family’s time there.

He said: “It was amazing, life-changing. It’s hard to find the right adjective to describe it. It was really an amazing experience for all of us.

“It’s like a part of our souls are still out there with them in Greece.”

To read our full report on Randall’s family and their experiences out in Greece, pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Recorder.

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