You guys are amazing! In a single day, we surpassed our initial fundraising goal of $2,000. With that money, we can immediately begin purchasing and distributing goods -- stay tuned for photo updates. And in response to the generous outpouring of donations, we've stretched our goal to $5,000. If you want to give, we will make the most of your support.
Helping Others Worldwide (HOW) is partnering with volunteers on the ground in Belgrade to distribute winter necessities to Syrian refugees camped in a park near the city’s main transit station. For the thousands of refugees fleeing their war-torn homes via the Western Balkan route, this transit station in Serbia’s capital city represents the last stop on the long journey to the European Union.
Most refugees leave home with only a backpack, and by the time they reach Belgrade, they’ve already traveled by bus, boat, train, and on foot for weeks – many with small children.
Our goal is to raise $2,000 to purchase and distribute items such as coats, walking shoes, and blankets to help ease their way before the harsh winter sets in. Because we have volunteers on the ground in Belgrade, we can work swiftly and efficiently. Aside from the 5% fee taken by Crowdrise, all of your money will go directly to the people in the park – it won’t be lost to shipping or operations. We’ll take photographs to share with you, to connect you to the people you’re helping. No donation is too small:
- $15 = a blanket
- $20 = a baby-carrying wrap
- $30 = a good pair of walking shoes
- $30 = a child’s winter coat
- $60 = an adult’s winter coat
According to a CNN report, “Refugees say they have received the warmest welcome yet here in Serbia, a nation where people remember what it’s like to live through war.” HOW’s friends in Belgrade are among those who remember war in their own country, and they have already begun collecting and donating clothing and food. Our hope is to provide them with the resources to continue the work they’ve already begun.
The international community has a great deal of work to do to abate this crisis, and things are likely to get worse before they get better. Even Germany, which originally embraced a “willkommenskultur,” has had to temporarily close its borders. While we await solutions from our global leaders, let’s do our part to foster this “welcome culture” – person to person.
Thank you, so much, for your help.
Some numbers to think about…
According to the United Nations, one out of two Syrians has fled home since the war began – or been killed. Three out of five Syrians are seeking asylum in Germany, Sweden, or Serbia.
Though Serbia is not itself a member of the EU, it shares a border with EU member Hungary – a border recently made infamous in international headlines. As of September 15, 2015, Hungary officially closed this border, and has vowed to deport illegal migrants back to Serbia. This means that the number of refugees in Serbia may increase, and they may be living there more permanently.
According to the UN, there are currently 1,000 refugees crossing into Serbia every day. And Serbian officials estimate that by the end of 2015, there will be approximately 120,000 refugees in transit through their country on any given day.
Phase 1: We guarantee that the first $2,000 raised will be used as outlined above: for the direct purchase and distribution of aid to the refugees in Belgrade’s main park. That's the amount we can quickly transfer to Belgrade without incurring transaction fees. We're currently working to find ways to circumvent foreign transfer fees on funds raised beyond our initial $2,000 goal. Bottom line: we're committed to getting as much of your money as possible directly to the refugees.
Phase 2: In the wonderful event that we raise funds beyond our capacity to quickly purchase and distribute goods, we will donate excess funds to Doctors Without Borders.
Since late 2014, Doctors Without Borders has been running mobile clinics and distributing relief items to undocumented migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in the Serbian city of Subotica near the Hungarian border. The DWB team is also running mobile clinics in Belgrade, where an increasing number of migrants are arriving. And on June 12, medical activities were initiated in Presevo, a town near the border with Macedonia. As of August 31, a total of 5,072 consultations had been carried out in Serbia.