Refugee Support Express – Woah, We’re Halfway There!
WELCOME TO THE REFUGEE SUPPORT EXPRESS
We’re at a crucial checkpoint
If you had to choose one word to describe current times, what would you choose? Bleak? Tough? We think the word ‘crucial’ is a strong contender.
Times are crucial. And so are our actions.
Just in the last couple of weeks we have seen worrying policy and even more worrying language. Trump’s zero tolerance policy on the southern border separated almost two thousand children from their families before he had to retract and talked about immigrants that would ‘infest’ the US. Italy has started to refuse ships carrying refugees rescued from drowning and then Salvini talked about creating a register of Roma people. Hungary has just passed a law that criminalises anyone who helps asylum seekers.
And around the world, displacement has reached a new high with over 68 million, or nearly 1 in a 100 of the world’s population, who have had to flee their homes.
Our actions are crucial in these times.
In the two years since Refugee Support’s conception, we have seen what comes from these types of devastating decisions we’ve seen over the last fortnight. We have helped many Syrian refugees over the last two years, and seen the aftermath of fleeing from terror, and heard devastating stories of war and suffering. We have seen changes over the last two years, some good but many bad.
Times are crucial, because our actions are crucial.
Now more than ever, our actions count, and it is our crucial actions that determine how these crucial times affect others. We have been supported and joined by many caring volunteers and donors in 2018, who have had a crucial impact on our work, and on the lives of those in need of dignity. Their actions are crucial, and so are yours.
So, stand with us in solidarity with refugees today, whilst we reflect on our news from the past six months, and don’t forget, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”- Martin Luther King
We returned to LM Village in May 2018 after a 4 month break and requests from the community to return. Once again we created our shop from scratch under the sound leadership of co-ordinator Sue and it is great to be back.
As part of the Eid celebrations we provided a range of additional food that the community asked for.
If we are to continue providing this valuable service we will need volunteers during the winter. You can find out more and apply here.
KEEPING UP WITH KATSIKAS
After a year of trials and tribulations in 2017, we were proud to finally open on Katsikas camp as it welcomed its first residents on 30 December 2017. Now, Katsikas has 450 and there are plans for the number of refugees at the camp to double.
Last week, to help celebrate Eid we gave every resident 50 points to spend in the shop. And as part of our ongoing programme of renovation being led by co-ordinator Dan to make the environment more welcoming, we also opened our café-a place where refugees and volunteers can relax and chat with a tea or a coffee. Our volunteers crafted the café from scratch; and they have done an incredible job of creating a space where refugees can socialise and regain some normality in their lives.
We continue to be grateful and overwhelmed by the number of donors and volunteers willing to dedicate their time and money to help us keep Katsikas running smoothly. The amount of work you have done since the camp reopened, and the number of people that you have helped to aid with dignity is just incredible. Thank you!
Dignity IN DOLIANA
We began to support and distribute food to the 120 residents at the small camp of Doliana in August 2018.
This coincided with the launch of our Refugee Support tokens system, which allows residents to exchange free points in exchange for their chosen produce. In Doliana, we do it a little differently. We created a home delivery service: every Sunday we take orders for what people want and then deliver to their door the following Sunday.
Last week, we helped the residents celebrate Eid by doing a double distribution of food, so that everyone got to shop twice.
Bidding bye TO BANGLADESH
At the end of 2017, we travelled to Bangladesh, where we did everything we could to help Rohingya refugees trapped in the no-man’s-land of Tumbru camp. We were forced to leave as Myanmar claimed jurisdiction over the camp, monsoon season loomed, and we were unable to secure the proper visas to operate in Bangladesh.
John and his team arrived in Bangladesh in November. Here’s just a few of the incredible things they managed to achieve in the time in Bangladesh:
- distributed 700 school bags and much-needed learning materials to the pupils of a local Bangladeshi school to build some bridges between the communities
- Carried out one large clothes distributionof brand new winter clothing for the 2,700 children under 13 to help prevent illness and hypothermia, purchased from a manufacturer in Chittagong.
distributed five crucial food packages to 1,300 families (including fresh fruit and vegetables) to tackle malnutrition and restore a healthy diet
• launched a pre-natal clinic for the 170+ pregnant women to ensure the health of the mother and child
In total we distributed over £24,000 of aid Bangladesh, all bought locally.
Until the Bangladeshi government makes it possible to have people in country for more than 30 days and operating under the right visa, we will continue to focus on aiding refugees in Greece. However, we are very concerned that people have already started to die as a result of the monsoon flooding, and will return to Bangladesh as soon as we can.
the FIGURES so far:
Residents: 120, 40% under 16
Distributed: £14,000 food since August 2017
Residents: 450, 45% under 16, with plans to double the capacity
Distributed: £50,000 food since January 2018
250, 50% under 16
Distributed: £9,000 food since May 2018
We also supply unlimited nappies, women’s sanitary wear and contraception to everyone who needs them.
This is all due to fantastic support from our many individual donors, Help Refugees, Carry the Future, and our amazing volunteers. And our coffers were really boosted when 20 of our supporters retraced the refugee route by walking from Idomeni to North Macedonia.
SPREADING THE WORD
We continue to share our message over the radio, over the internet, and over the world. A few months ago, we launched our new website, which helps people to navigate change faster than ever, and our social media team continue to do a fantastic job sharing our message of aid with dignity with past, current and future supporters.
We have continued to talk to inspiring guests on our Standing with Refugees podcasts, which share the inspiring and heart-breaking words and stories of other charities, advocates, volunteers, and most importantly, refugees themselves.
John and Paul have just returned from the USA after doing a speaking tour around the states.
With your help, we continue to spread the word of solidarity and support, and as we usher in the second half of the year, we know you can help us make more noise!
Thank you for reading, and we’ll see you next time.
Please contact us today at [email protected] if you are interested in volunteering and offering aid with dignity, get in touch.