Charitably Stoked About
A few words on our Cups For Chios program
A tanned young man sits on the shore of another idyllic Greek island. His backpack is battered, but it’s seen him through some pretty hairy adventures, good times and bad times. Same for the beaten up, trustworthy shoes on his feet; they’ve seen better days, and he sometimes thinks about buying another pair, but he always thinks better of it. He has plenty more travelling to do. He’s happy to be where he is, but he misses his family, sometimes too much. He has a smart phone in his pocket, but without wifi it’s no good to him; he can’t call them and maybe they can’t speak to him. He misses his dog, his girlfriend. He misses the career that he put on hold. He misses many things, but none of that compares to the, you wouldn’t call it joy, maybe relief, to be travelling.
This could be any one of us, with a few substitutions. Like, maybe you’re not a man, haven’t been to Greece, didn’t put your career on hold, but it’s not, because the person we’re describing isn’t travelling for pleasure or discovery. He’s not “doing” countries ticked off a bucket list. He doesn’t have the luxury, like we do, to be motivated by hedonism and to go where the fun is. He doesn’t ride the waves of TripAdvisor reviews.
The young man we’re describing is escaping war. He’s running away from a repressive regime. His hometown was bombed, friends and family killed. The government, then the rebels, insisted that he fight for them. He’s been shot at, chased away from the only home he’s ever known, but one that no longer has any future for him. Any plans he had for a career or family are now, indefinitely, on hold; all his savings, all his family’s savings, were stuffed into his pockets so that he could make this journey. He’s not travelling because he wants to, he’s travelling because he has to.
The young man we’re describing is a refugee who has made the perilous journey from Syria, Afghanistan or Pakistan and now finds himself on the shores of Chios, Greece, after a dangerous and expensive illegal boat journey from Turkey.
In many, most, regards we are no different from this young man, and countless men, women and children in the same situation. We’re no different except that the cosmic lottery of birthright allowed us to evacuate our mothers somewhere that is relatively free from violence and warfare, in countries with, no matter how much we like to complain about them, stable and honest governments. Just by being born here and not there we are given passports that allow us to pay next to nothing for a ferry from Turkey to Greece while the young man on the beach forks out a fortune to maybe drown in the Aegean Sea, like so many before him.
The reason why we’re telling you this story is that this year, having witnessed the unending refugee crisis unfolding in Greece and elsewhere across the Mediterranean, Stoke Travel has decided to focus on the similarities between us and these fellow travellers, and do what we can to lend a helping hand. After all, isn’t that the travellers’ spirit? Helping another man or woman of the backpack when they need it most — and boy do the refugees arriving in Chios need it.
This year, like all years, we’ve had a bar-cup deposit system to make sure all Stokies hold on to their cups and don’t create more waste with every refill. Normally the system works where you’d bring your cup back at the end of your stay and we’d refund the fee. Now what we’re doing is asking that you leave the deposit as a donation, 100% of which will go to our charitable partners on the ground in Chios who are doing fantastic work with the refugees there, but who always need our support. You donate the cup deposit and we’ll match it and not only will we all be full of beer, we’ll be full of the knowledge that, however small, we did something to help some fellow travellers who are, very, down on their luck.
And at the end of Oktoberfest we’re all going to pile into a big old airplane and fly from Munich to Chios to soak up some much needed, post Oktoberfest sun, to boost the local economy that is feeling the pinch from being on the frontline of the refugee crisis, and to see firsthand just what these travellers are enduring — and maybe help out where we can.
So when you’re in Munich with Stoke Travel, now you know why we ask for a cup deposit (and why we’re reluctant to give it back). Come and have a chat to us about the efforts in Chios, and if you’re free at the end of Oktoberfest, why not come down to the Greek Islands and see what’s happening first hand.
Let’s see the similarities in strangers, not the differences. Let’s help out some travellers in need.
For more information on Charitably Stoked, dive over here.