Hi everyone, I was back in northern Serbia at the end of November - near the town of Subotica.
Each time I go, I'm shocked by what I see. This time I was volunteering with our two partner organisations Collective Aid and No Name Kitchen, and also accompanied by some volunteer medics practicing critical first aid to those living in desperate conditions.
Our distribution on the first day was simple. The shower van and a second distribtion van, along with six volunteers. The shower van is parked up a discreet distance away and, as nearly everyone passing through here is male - especially in the winter - staffed only by male volunteers. A queue formed immediately and the showers (water tanks and ingeneous electrics/piping run from a generator) were in use all day until dark.
I was helping with the food distro. That day was bread and eggs. The eggs are popular, but I noted that they're raw (often in Calais they're boiled by the volunteers), and the site has no running water. Of course, the volunteers have to also provide water here which we did later in the day. We were two volunteers in the van and two giving out. When we ran out, people were sad they missed out. I know from experience that people only queue, only come for distributions, when they need what's being given. If they weren't hungry, they wouldn't leave their tents or fires.
It was a quiet and polite distribution... the guys were humbly grateful. For my part I made sure I greeted each person, looked them in the eyes, and smiled. Respect matters. And then there's always the cheeky ones who laugh and joke with us, practicing their english and teasing us all.
Distributions depend on the stocks of donations each charity has, as well as the number of people at each camp. Hot tea urns with sugar and charging stations for mobile phones are staple. The cold here is the kind that chills you to the bone and, combined with the hostility simply for being a refugee, the arrival of warmth, people who care and practical help? I don't think you can put a price on it...
A huge thank you to everyone donating to forRefugees, it means we can continue supporting human rights and meeting humanitarian needs in The Balkans. We continue our fight for humanity, not hostility, towards people who've become refugees and come to our Europe in hope of safety and a future and are very grateful to you for being here with us.
Providing wet wipes might sound like a rather symptomatic solution for hygiene issues. Sadly, on Europe´s borders, it's often the only quick and necessary solution available. People on the move lack access to showers and proper sanitation and sometimes can not shower for weeks and even months. Wet wipes provide ways to clean oneself more efficiently than soap.
Our partner, No Name Kitchen, says "Wet wipes are our most popular hygiene item and we receive feedback from people saying they are most grateful for the packets as they can pack them in their bags. This means that the distribution of simple but effective hygiene products can make a big difference at the moment."
After a failed border crossing attempt, H came back with a wound on his arm. Not significant in size, but extremely dirty. Staying in a squat with no access to water for cleaning wounds, this small wound could easily have turned into a highly unpleasant arm infection. However, being able to provide H with hygiene items when asked he was able to take care of his wound enabling him to avoid infection and giving him time to heal.
We have been able to support No Name Kitchen supply these much valued and needed hygiene items to the people on the move in northern Bosnia thanks to your continued donations.
We will always need to raise more money for these projects to carry on but we are really pleased we could help in this way so far.
Thank you for being with us on the fight for humanity, not hostility, to refugees in Europe.
Photos: forRefugees & No Name Kitchen.
In Bihac on the border of Bosnia and Croatia the greatest need in the last month seemed to be proper trainers for refugees. The local partner NNK who we support there on the ground alerted us on the shortage and how difficult it was to import second hand shoes. We decided to donate 600 pairs of trainers which they would be able distribute throughout the summer months.
In Sarajevo we continue to provide basic clothing and hygiene packs enough for the next month, about 400 so far.
In Subotica on the border of Serbia and Hungary we need to contribute towards two washing machines and one dryer in order to wash clothes and bedding for people on the move. We hope they will last for another year as they are being used so intensively!
We need another £3,000 at least to carry on supporting these projects, but we are so grateful for all the donations via GlobalGiving we have received so far!
Today, 1st March 2022 Amber Bauer, the founder and CEO of ForRefugees, trustee Ingrid van Loo and her husband Niul start a two week tour of Bosnia and Serbia to assess the current situation and required aid for refugees on "The Balkan Route". They will start the trip working with Collective Aid in Sarajevo. Daily updates will be posted on our social media and we will post to you, our wonderful GlobalGiving donors regularly to show just how much impact your donations have.
A note from Amber "We're going to the capital cities and border areas, in Bosnia that's Sarajevo and Bihac and onto Belgrade and Subotica in Serbia. We're looking forward to working with Collective Aid and No Name Kitchen. We expect to see very hard living conditions: lots of homelessness and squatting. We think the most urgent needs will be for hot meals and food packs/vouchers, clothes and shoes, hygiene and dignity items."
All necessary aid is purchased locally helping the local communities and every penny goes where it's most needed, fast.
While we understand and worry about the ongoing refugee crisis in Ukraine we ask you to please also remember that people from many different countries have been forced to flee war and torture over recent times and are forced to survive in terrible conditions, often for many years with only support from grassroots NGOs and their amazing donors.
The ForRefugees Family believes in helping ALL refugees, wherever that help is needed. We're honoured to have you as part of our family and whilst we know it is a lot to ask we really do need your support right now. If you can donate, even a small amount we will be forever grateful!
With thanks and warmest wishes,
PROJECT REPORT 2
Thanks to your generosity and kindness, our continued campaign has now raised an incredible £5113 to provide clothes packs (approximately £7 each) to more than 730 people in need. As another difficult winter hit, these warm clothes have been needed more than ever. As before, the clothes have been bought locally in Bosnia & Herzegovina, helping a troubled local economy whilst also making your money go further. Each pack was bought and distributed by our incredible on-the-ground grassroots partner, No Name Kitchen.
We cannot thank you enough for your continued support of this campaign and the difference made to each person receiving the dignity of a set of new clothes.
Contact us | firstname.lastname@example.org
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