Since the beginning of the conflict in Syrian over 5 million people have been forced to leave their homes, former lives, and country in order to flee the war. Most of these people fled to neighboring countries including Italy and Greece. Lesvos Island (also spelled Lesbos) became one of the main receiving hubs due to its proximity to Turkey and Syria. At the height of the crisis in 2015, thousands of refugees were arriving in rafts every day. There are still over 7,000 refugees on Lesvos, the majority of which are women and children, living in two refugee camps that were built to hold a maximum capacity of 2,700. These women and children have fled their war torn country to only to find themselves stuck for up to 18 months in overcrowded camps with deplorable living conditions while they wait for their applications to be approved so they can be processed into mainland Europe. One of the biggest issues they face in the camps is gender based violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking.
In the midst of the horror, Gateways2life has created an oasis of hope in the form of a community center for women and children. You can read all about it at gateways2life.org . Women can go there to escape the heat or cold, utilize the island's only free laundry facility, participate in various kinds of classes, receive counseling to help them process the traumas they have experienced, and enjoy a few hours of safety and peace. This is the community center that has invited us to come teach these precious and vulnerable women the skills needed to protect themselves and their children. We'll also get to hold their babies, play with their kids, listen to their stories, and let them know that they are seen, heard, and loved. It's a powerful thing to know that you're not forgotten in your suffering. We have the opportunity to be the hands, arms, eyes and ears of God to a population who needs to know that He sees and loves them. But we need your help to get there!
We'll board the flight to Lesvos on March 16th, so we have a little under three weeks to raise the funds we need. I estimate that this trip will cost $5,000 total. That includes our airfare, lodging, food, and the cost of the supplies that we will need to teach self defense classes (mats, kick shields, etc), and supplies that the community center has asked us to bring over for them. Anything that comes in above the amount we need will be donated to Gateways2life for the continued support of refugee women and children. (GoFundMe has asked me to make it clear that I am the benificiary of the funds we are raising and will use the funds that come in to cover the costs of the things listed above. Any money we don't use personally will be donated to the community center, meaning I will personally hand the director any left over funds. No funds will be given by us directly to the refugees.)
If you believe that every woman should have the right and knowledge to defend herself and her children from violence, if you have a heart for refugees and all they have suffered, or if you just really love the idea of empowering college students to go make a difference in our world, please give generously to help us get to Greece.
Jenny, Aby and I thank you for partnering with us in this opportunity. We couldn't do it without you! Thank you!!!
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