I get asked this question a lot. People know that I travel a lot and that LHI helps refugees, but what are the specifics?
Here it goes: The ever-changing refugee situation in Europe keeps us on our toes, and has kept our nonprofit business model evolving and changing, too. When we began in January, our goal was to fill a shipping container with humanitarian goods. We thought it would take about a year to fill.
Some social media posts went viral in April, and we ended up filling the shipping container in 2 months! Those goods went to a large camp in Lebanon. The momentum didn't stop there.
We also started getting enough funds to provide emergency purchases of humanitarian goods for refugee camps abroad. We bought six weeks worth of food for the Hellenic Red Cross's camp in Lavrion, for example. We purchased 350 pairs of shoes for refugees arriving via rubber boat on the island of Chios. We bought 200 backpacks for children going to a makeshift school inside a camp. We bought food and hygiene supplies for refugees living under a bridge at the port refugee camp in Athens.
We also started running some operations here in Phoenix, Arizona. I'm not sure if people realizehow many refugee families are getting resettled here in the Phoenix Valley. The four resettlement agencies here are incredibly overwhelmed. We help by furnishing apartments for new families so that they don't have to spend a big chunk of their resettlement stipend on furniture. We also do it so they feel more at home during an incredibly difficult transition where they experience the wild highs and lows of culture shock. We have a warehouse and everything. A generous donor has paid warehouse rent for an entire year. (By the way, want to volunteer? Have housewares to donate?? Email email@example.com). See images below of our latest apartment set-up. ALL furniture you see was donated, even a hospital bed for one member of the family who is paralyzed from the neck down due to a war injury.
And FINALLY, the latest news: LHI has a team of AMAZING long-term volunteers working at a refugee camp in northern Greece. This is no easy feat now that the Greek military has cracked down on independent volunteers and nonprofits. It is very, very hard to get a position in a camp, so we are very lucky. The camp started unexpectedly about a month ago when the urgent need for it arose. There were 400 residents in the camp until yesterday, when another camp flooded from the rain, sending an additional 100 more refugees our way. What do we do at the camp? We translate. We run a women's safe space: no men allowed! Inside, we teach yoga, languages, and provide social hours every day. We also distribute humanitarian goods. We have a warehouse ready to be filled with goods, once they start arriving by sea. Until we get those shipments, we have to buy everything. It's pricey buying hygiene and vegetables for 500 people, let me tell you. We also provide children's activities outside of school activities, such as screening educational films using a donated projector and speaker, games, and kids yoga. Why yoga? Mindfulness promotes recovery from trauma, and Yazidis carry a lot of trauma.
So, in other words, we do a lot! We help run a camp. We furnish apartments in Phoenix. We provide aid for refugees in other camps. I (Hayley) do this full-time now. I divide my time between our refugee camp in Greece and our local operations here in Phoenix. It is an absolute honor to do this work. And it's all thanks to you. It's stressful, I'll admit. I lose sleep over donor fatigue. It's a real thing, despite a sharp increase in refugee need. But I have faith that people will heed the call! I mean, the only way to keep LHI going is donations. The VAST majority of donations are spent on refugees directly, in the form of food and hygiene. Wanna help our camp? Buy an item off our AMAZON list. It goes to a location in the USA where we are collecting goods in a shipping container that will come straight to our camp.
You can also do a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10, or more HERE. That way you can put in your info once and be done with it! Thank you in advance!