Backpacks for the displaced

A Greek label is using rubber from dinghies and lifesaver jackets to produce bags for refugees, in collaboration with Lesvos-based volunteer group Platanos Solidarity

Using nothing but materials sourced in Skala Sykamnias, Lesvos, a 50-60lt waterproof backpack has been designed and built for the refugees to carry on their journey. It was designed in Athens with the valuable professional help of the Three Legs and a Model label, with the project initiated by the Embassy for the Displaced organisation.
“Our thanks and respect go to Platanos Refugee Solidarity, Lesvos for their help towards the completion of this task and their solidarity to displaced people,” the Embassy for the Displaced page administrator says.
“We are currently looking into implementing this design on the field; suggestions on how to make this more than a prototype are welcome.”

The rubber used for the backpack’s construction comes from a dinghy that made the crossing in the first days of 2016, while the straps, clips and shoulder ‘pillows’ were scavenged from life vests.
The backpack is large enough to fit a few pairs of winter clothes, a sleeping bag and a blanket, and can be easily sewn together out of a few boat pieces. One dinghy can produce numerous bags.

Three Legs and a Model is a brand which provides cyclists with handcrafted bags and accessories for everyday use on and off the bike, combining the retro and refined urban design with comfort and practicality.

Supplies are a key part of the process of creating the products. The bags are made by high-tech and innovative materials with self-clean utilities.

Three Legs and a Model’s goal is to produce bags which are resistant and everlasting. At the same time, the brand is characterised by consciousness on sustainability issues and for this reason the extensive use of leather is avoided.

The volunteers from Platanos Refugee Solidarity organisation gathered all the waste materials that could potentially be utilised and recycled.

Wooden boards, plastic clips, rubber from inflatable boats and lifesaver jackets were turned into useful gear in the hands of resourceful designer Emmanuel Andreou.

Platanos Refugee Solidarity Initiative

Platanos Solidarity Volunteers receiving refugees. Photo: Maliakos Nikos

Early last October a group of ten people from the Self-organized Solidarity Initiative for the Refugees, which was created around actions at Pedion Areos (Athens) in August, came to Scala Sykaminias, Lesvos, in response to a call for assistance from the Lesbian NGO Agkalia. Agkalia, since last May, has greeted and supported refugees in the region with a mobile unit.

The team went to Skala, where it erected the first tent at the point of Platanos: a makeshift clinic staffed by a paediatrician, a nurse and two interpreters. This was followed by two tents for clothing and a kitchen, and later the tents were replaced by more heavy-duty tent structures.

Today, the structure of Platanos consists of a multinational solidarity partnership involved either as individuals or as collectives. People in solidarity arrive from around the world to participate in the group’s action. The structure has established channels of communication and cooperation with collectives from all over Greece. In Lesvos, the Lesbian Initiative for Solidarity with Refugees, whose members operate daily below Platanos, are responsible for receiving and stabilising the boats.

The volunteers go on patrolling and rescuing operations several times a day with a speedboat that has been made available by a solidarity member. Team members take the children and infants off the boats, support the more vulnerable, and lead travellers to the Platanos camp, where they provide initial health care, dry clothes, food and water.

“We are now able to offer dry clothes to all the refugees who arrive at Platanos – this number, some days, exceeds 3,000 people,” state the Platanos volunteers.

“We are always in short supply for adult shoes. With constantly deteriorating weather conditions and the numbers of arrivals of refugees remaining unabated, Platanos needs more supplies for the fortification of the camp, as we intend to stay here to welcome, take care and treat our fellow human beings who arrive from the opposite coast for as long as they are forced to leave their homes.”

To contact the Solidarity Group of Platanos email or phone: +306940615771 – Rescue team: +306940615044 – Storage: +306940615646 – Head coordinating: +306940615084

To contact Three Legs and a Model phone +30210-323 4536 or +306944 780 424. For more information, email or head to