The Chios East Shore Response Team or CESRT (usually prononced more like „Cerst“) is a locally organised team of international volunteers dedicated to providing support for both refugees and for local people on Chios.
The story of CESRT started in the October of 2015 at Megas Limnionas when local hotel (Sun Rooms) owner Toula Kitromilidi heard the cries of children on the nearby beach. A boatload of refugees had landed outside her home. She brought the people to her rooms and provided clothes, food, water as well as shelter. She later made a facebook post about it … and others caught on. Since then, the team has been active 24/7.
More on CESRT on www.cesrt.org!
Offene Arme e. V. („Open Arms“) was established in April 2017 as a registered charity organization in Germany by returning CESRT volunteer Alexander Hirsch. Initially purposed as a platform for fundraising and to raise awareness for the situation on the Greek Isles, Offene Arme took on a larger role in 2018. As the demand grew that CESRT should have a form of legal registration, CESRT coordinators and the board of Offene Arme e. V. decided to put CESRT under the legal umbrella of Offene Arme e. V., while Offene Arme is seeking formal registration with the Greek government as a charitable NGO. So while the team continues to operate under the established name CESRT (or CESRT / OA), all legal matters, contracts etc. are in the name of Offene Arme e. V. CESRT founder and team leader Toula Kitromilidi was appointed its legal representative in Greece by the board of Offene Arme e. V.
As before, the heart and soul of CESRT are the many volunteers, and donors, from around the world who share their love, their strength, their time and their money to meet the needs of people who find themselves caught up in this humanitarian crisis. While CESRT volunteers now number in the thousands, each contribution is priceless. We often joke that we will all meet again for a huge party when the crisis is over. In the meantime, we will keep going, we will keep serving, we will keep loving.