First, yes, you read that correctly.
But, before I get into that, I wanted to let everyone know that I used the first of the GoFundMe campaign funds in the last 36 hours. Yesterday, I gave 300 Euro (~$328) to one of the kitchens, which translates into 600 people being served with a hot meal yesterday evening (50 Euro cents/meal). And, today, I bought 600 pairs of socks (pic below) for 420 Euro (~$459), as we were running very low. They are currently sitting in the clothing distribution area and will be handed out to the next wave of wet refugees off boats. For those of you who have given, thank you so much, again. I’ve seen the faces of those receiving dry clothes and this does make a difference.
I wrote this on Facebook last night, but the $10,000 goal was achieved in just over 5 days, which is incredible, so I’ve raised the goal to $15,000. We are already well on our way towards that goal. Literally, any amount helps. When 50 cents pays for one hot meal or 70 cents for a pair of thick socks, even a few dollars can make several cold people very happy and at least feel a bit more welcome.
I haven’t had the time to blog in the past few days, but not because of being extremely busy or anything out of the ordinary. Was just a mix of working, being social and not wanting to post at 1:00 in the morning US time. Refugees have been arriving in fairly large numbers the past few days, but it seems like the systems in place for the registration and the handling of arrivals have smoothed out, so the process is working a bit better. Today, the winds picked up and they were very strong, so we do not expect many arrivals. This translated into me today working on some volunteer coordination activities for helping with registering volunteers and thinking about future briefing/informational documents for volunteers, so they are more informed.
Back to the Zara Collection… Since I arrived over two weeks ago, one of the containers I have been working on de-clustering of boxes and bags was ¼ full of boxes donated by Zara, the clothing company. In these boxes were brand new jackets, shoes and warm tops. You can imagine some of our frustration, because not only are they things that we regularly need, but these items also take up space where we could have put useful items. The Zara clothes became a running, bad joke. There were times when we were low on these items over the last few weeks I was here, but we were not allowed to give them out. Why not? Because they wanted photos to be taken of Tabakika staff giving them out to refugees with a Zara logo somewhere in the photo.
That was a bit maddening and disturbing to me. We were holding back needed items for marketing purposes. Yesterday, however, I had had enough and asked that we hand out the Zara clothes (as we had zero jackets) and calls were made, approval gotten and that corner of the container now has shelves filled with other clothes and I saw some very fashionably dressed, warm refugees over the last 24 hours. There were some photos taken by a UNHCR staff member and a logo, thankfully, was never used.
I’ve seen some articles where Zara has donated big to UNHCR for the refugee crisis, so while I will always question motive with these types of donations from companies, there are some very happy refugees out there. And, honestly, the private sector has been responding faster and more effectively than many governments. These are warmer clothes of high quality (or higher quality than we’re used to seeing) that are very much appreciated, especially by the refugees. I’m going to guess they could care less where the clothes came from.