As many of you know, we (Liz and Day) have chosen to spend Christmas vacation overseas in Lesvos, Greece working with Refugee4Refugees (https://refugee4refugees.org/) side by side with Omar and a handful of amazing humans dedicated to this humanitarian cause.
We are creating this separate GoFundMe page because we will be 100% accountable to you that your money will go toward the causes laid out below, but we believe in this cause and encourage you to continue to follow the website above and help as you can when you can.
Omar and R4R have been involved in spotting the boats coming from Turkey and assisting in getting them safely from the boats to a transitional camp we call Stage Two (picture above was taken there). At the camp, refugees from myriad countries receive warmth, medical care, food, clothes, blankets, sleeping quarters, and a variety of medical needs. The refugees we have personally met so far have been from Afghanistan, Syria, Gambia, Congo, and Iraq.
Omar has also recently purchased a warehouse next to the largest refugee camp on the island, Moria. Moria was intended to hold ~2000 people and ~7000 people remain there now, waiting for their papers to clear. Some stay a couple of months, some have been there longer than 2 years. There is no clear rhyme or reason to that system, tensions are high, and living conditions are becoming dire. (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/refugees-fear-winter-cramped-decrepit-moria-camp-171204125928375.html)
Our first night on the island, there was a riot and several Syrians, including some of they Syrian volunteers who have been helping in the warehouse (the sweetest guys you could possible meet), were attacked. As a result, the warehouse became a 24-hour safe zone for over 100 people while some tried to quell the tension. By law, they had to be returned to the camp the next day and the warehouse is once again being set up. (http://www.ekathimerini.com/224324/article/ekathimerini/news/around-10-people-injured-in-clashes-at-moria-migrant-camp-on-lesvos)
When we are not at Stage Two, we are at this warehouse dispensing donated clothes and immediate sanitary needs to people who still smile, to children who still laugh, and to teenagers who still love to dance and take selfies. And if the monetary donations aren't there, Omar and/or other R4R founders cover the costs out of their own pockets. Quite often, Omar is driving from Skala (where the boats come in) to Moria, a 1 hour drive, multiple times a day. One tank of gas in the truck is ~$100.
It is easy to read these types of articles and shut off mentally but we are here on the ground and interacting with the men, women, and children every day. We are only here for a short time so we are going to try to do a lot of good in just a little bit of time and we hope you will help us. Sending physical donations overseas can incur costs for them, so while all help is welcome and R4R can liaise with you direcly about the best way to send goods, we have assessed other immediate needs that we can fill to keep R4R sustainable:
- 1 month of rent (~$1000)
- 5 full gas tanks (~$500)
- 1 month food, baby formula, kerosene for heat, etc. for Stage Two (~$500 min)
There are so many immediate needs that there is no such thing really as a 'goal' number - outside of the warehouse and a few incremental costs like the website hosting, there is literally zero overhead. This entire operation depends on kindness from others. And any money beyond the $2000 will go toward the 3 needs listed above.
This campaign will end at 8am local time December 26 and I will personally withdraw the monies and present the cash to Omar during a recorded session that will be uploaded to this page.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions. Everyone that donates will receive a handwritten thank you note from a refugee and Omar himself, and a debt of gratitude from us!
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