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Martha Velez's Fundraiser:

Studio Unite -Solar Lights for Syrian Refugees Fleeing Aleppo - Third Wave Volunteers & Studio Unite

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BENEFITING: Studio Unite


EVENT: Aleppo Relief Fund

Martha Velez


Alison Thompson wrote -

Third Wave Volunteers have been helping rescue and take solar lights to the Syrian Refugee crisis. We provide medical assistance during the day and at night we give innovative solar lights to women and children in dark refugee camps. The new mission will be delivering lights to the dark surrounding borders of Aleppo, where new camps are currently being set up. Please help us help them.

(Photos by Chris Morrow and Doug Kuntz)

For the past 18 months Third Wave Volunteers have been taking origami SOLAR PUFF LIGHTS to the Syrian, Iraq and Afghan refugee families who have fled to Greece for asylum after being bombed out of their homes by Isis and other brutal regimes. (Greece is the first entry point to Europe) They are living in very dark under equipped refugee camps with not enough food, medical and light.

These missions are also about giving them LOVE and looking them straight in the eye to say "I lOVE YOU" with a big hug of support and to let them know there are people out there who care. "Where has all the LOVE gone in the world? We are not being asked to go shave our heads and chant on a hill but to imagine a world where everyone does their part that the karma banks are overflowing with blue-chip stocks of compassion and we are “billionaires on the inside.” Imagine a world where souls are more valuable than money. Isn’t that the way it was meant to be? It’s easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but now humanity asks us to transform fear into love. To be in the wrong place at the right time."

Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis since Hitler and WW2. With 1/2 million people killed and half the country’s pre-war population — more than 11 million people — have been either killed or forced to flee their homes. Last year, more than 800,000 Syrians arrived by sea in Greece. 

Beautiful, educated families who are just like us. As the new Exec Director of Studio Unite 501c3 charity we will continue to collaborate with our Third Wave Volunteers in the solar journey to light up the world.

Dr Alison Thompson has been a full time humanitarian volunteer for the past 16 years running refugee camps and field hospitals around the world after working as a first responder on the Sept 11th 2001 attacks. She is currently distributing solar lights to the Syrian refugee women and children in the dark camps of Greece. She is a beacon of light and unconditional love for all and is a master at cutting through red tape to get help directly to the people.

A huge thank you to to Alice Min Soo Chun our Solar Puff inventor and good friend to refugees and Ruby Stewart, Alyssa Bonagura and The Sisterhood band for the "One Light" video.

Please consider a monetary donation today so we can bring as many lights and supplies as possible. Each light is $15.

On behalf of the refugees, the volunteers, and our network of partner organizations we thank you for sharing your light.


SOLAR LiGHTS in the dark camps.


GOAL: To provide women and children refugees with fold up origami waterproof solar puff lights which give 8-12 hours of light at night and then recharge during the day in the sun.

Past blogs and links:

JUNE-AUGUST 2016 - Delivering 12,000 solar lights to the dark military refugee camps in Greece including PETRA - the Yazidi camps with 1300 people at Mount Olympus.

MAY 1st - 2016 - We are currently delivering the Solar Puff lights to Idomeni Syrian refugee camp at the northern Greek/Macedonia border and 18 other refugee camps where 53,000 refugees are stranded at closed borders. The camps lack basic essentials and are very dark at night. For the past 9 months our work has been on the island of Lesvos Greece where over 800,000 refugees have been landing. The refugees on the North Shore of Lesvos Greece land at night in many dark rocky unsafe areas and on landing many refugees have to walk 31 miles up a dark mountain to the dark refugee camps (often carrying babies, children and accompanied by many old people with canes). We also distribute the solar lights directly to people sitting in the dark refugees camps of MOIRA, PIPKA and KARA TEPE. Besides the obvious and desperate need for light – the Solar lights are the only joy we see on the island where children’s scared faces change to great excitement when they are given these magic solar lights.


OPED MIAMI HERALD LOVE ON THE ISLAND OF LESVOS. SKALA SIKAMINEAS, GREECE — Standing in the harbor of this Greek village on the island of Lesbos, I am holding yet another soaking wet little girl with blue lips. Minutes before she had been sinking in the deadly Aegean sea crossing from Turkey to Greece. Her parents had fled Syria with only a cellphone and cash after their house had been bombed and ISIS had shot three generations of their relatives in cold blood. My heart swells as I spot tiny specks of orange lifejackets bobbing like oranges in a low-riding boat. The rescue whistles blow, and volunteers from all nations jump into action. The refugees are closer now, and 50 feet from shore the screams of terror begin as two panicked refugees jump out, setting off a crushing stampede as children and babies are catapulted from the boat into the dark sea. Most Syrians don’t swim. I catch sight of a small body in a puffy pink jacket floating away and I plunge into the water to reach her in borrowed time. I struggle to plant my feet on the slippery rocks below as the weight of her lifejacket and wet clothes strain my lazy muscles to work even harder. By the shore, volunteers call for stretchers in five different languages, but I am focused on one child’s heartbeat. Finding no pulse, I fumble at her clothes, free the airway and pump her tiny chest looking for life. After two cycles of CPR, water sputters from her mouth and I turn her over to allow the sea to escape. She is not in good condition, but she is alive. Children and babies are quickly being passed, volunteer to volunteer, to the safety of shore, and we smile and hug the families who were almost swallowed by the sea.

Back on the shore, I reach for a bottle of bubbles to help calm another restless baby and eye the two teenage girls who have been raped by ISIS. They remain silent, and their dark lashes spy my every move. With new eyes, I scope the refugee journey of heading toward the “promised land,” but only finding paper towns.

In Lesbos, I have seen the face of all our gods, where humans embrace and pain is absorbed into a love without borders. Volunteers work day and night in rain and snow, huddled together around fires and in rental cars, tracking the boats and sending rescue teams out into the angry sea. We rush another hypothermic pregnant woman along the darkened shoreline now lit with magic bright solar lights and wait and pray, always ready with emergency blankets and food and dry clothes. The volunteers share jubilation in the safe rescues — and bottomless despair when we learn they have capsized and everyone has drowned.

After five months of volunteering in Lesbos, my brain can’t solve the larger problems of a world where leaders are also struggling to find answers. I do know that I can help these suffering humans, but I am not naïve enough to think that a terrorist couldn’t get through any border or inspire people across many nations. Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Half the country’s pre-war population — more than 11 million people — have been killed or forced to flee their homes. Last year, more than 800,000 Syrians arrived by sea and in them I have met beautiful, educated families who are just like us. When did we become so fearful? The Sept. 11 attacks taught me not to live in fear or give in to terrorism. If the world turns its back on the refugees, they will be forced to return to Syria and then ISIS wins. It’s easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but now humanity asks us to transform fear into love. To be in the wrong place at the right time.

Alison Thompson is a rescue paramedic and the founder of Third Wave Volunteers working with Syrian refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos. She is the author of The Third Wave book and film about Volunteering.

NPR highlights a glimpse behind the scenes with Alison Thompson from Third Wave Volunteers to share the complex realities of responding and coordinating in Lesvos:

Please follow Chris Morrow iReport for up to date reporting from Lesvos.

Update from Alison Thompson from the ground in Lesvos... LOVE IS LOVE- where has all the love gone in the world? Standing on the rocky shores of Lesbos Greece my eyes lock onto two specks of orange on the horizon and my heart swells. The refugees are upon us now- terrified wet and hungry- our whistles blow- they are 10 feet from shore and panic and screams begin. the Syrian refugees are given the safer orange life jackets while the afghans and other nations are given black fake ones. Where is all the love in the world? On landing they kiss the ground and praise God for their lives while others sit in quiet shock- its the quiet ones we worry about.

I can't solve the larger problems of the world but i can help these people right in front of us. We rush another hypothermic pregnant woman along the darkened shoreline now lit with magic bright solar puff lights and my care is focused on the heartbeat of two. Inside the Adventist makeshift bus hospital Dr Michael works alongside muslims, israelis and christians to save lives. There are no skin colors or religions here- we are frontline soldiers fighting for humanity before we exterminate each other. In front of me stand an educated afghan family whose father has been shot by the Talliban. They paid 26,000$ to cross from turkey to Greece and wait patiently for Maeve to finish cleaning his infected wounds as his young son smiles through his eyes due to his jaw being wired shut from being shot through his jaw.

Many of the refugees will be forced to return home and now if the while world turns against them then iSIS and the rest of the brutal regimes win and will wait for them to return to kill them. Where is the love in the world? The turkish mafia smugglers charge 1- 2000$ per head for them to cross the deadly sea to freedom- how bad is it back home that makes teh sea safer than th eland? it reminds me think of 'the jumpers' from the towers on Sept 11th. A flashback to ten days ago with half drowned children dying in our arms and so many more bodies never found.- 2 nights ago a boat of refugees spent 10 hours sinking in their boat and an obese man jumped overboard so that they would live. He was found at 3am alone out in the black sea by James a volunteer for England.

In each new story my brain and emotions shut down to protect the innocent and I snap back into flight as the rescue whistles start again. Ten boat loads later another woman collapses into my love and I stroke her hair and repeat the few Arabic words i know " Hamdilla" Praise God". 

The grassroots -no red tape- lets get help straight to the people- and the volunteers on the ground help till they drop. From the amazing Rayyan who cooks for 1000's of refugees to Giada and the Lighthouse relief volunteers to Dr Michael and his gang of Adventists to the the Third Wave Volunteers and to Platanos Solidarity shore team to all the other volunteer groups from all over the world. Volunteering is a gift from the heart and it beats strong and never gives up. love is love and the world doesn't work without it! love Alison November 11- Update.

Third Wave Volunteers have deployed to Lesvos. We have two of our dream teams headed to Lesvos tomorrow to bring more solar puff lights, supplies and medical support led by Alison Thompson..

Temperatures are dropping as these boats keep coming. This crisis is growing so please continue to share our story and your light! UPDATE! October 31, 2015.

My scary Halloween under a full moon- by Alison Thompson Photos by Doug Kuntz SOS - CALLING ALL SOLAR ANGELS!!!! You may be thinking how does she have time to post social media updates -well I don't but I know its important to get the message out to the world and to get more solar lights and volunteers here so I am substituting my sleep to write this. I have had exactly 3 hours sleep in the past 72 hours as refugee boats arrive at all hours of the day and night in need of our assistance.

There are no words to describe this mass exodus of Syrian, Iraq and Afghan refugees- thousands land 24 hours a day wet /cold /hungry and in shock with a lot of babies and children. The refugees have all been humble, kind and really good people--and I’ve never once felt scared. Many of the women have lost their babies on the long walk to get here. Today one man washed ashore whom had left Iraq a year ago after his mother and sister were repeatedly raped by Isis. He had made it to the Turkish coast but the Turkish mafia were charging $2000's per head for refugees to cross the 6 mile stretch to Greece ( which usually costs anyone else 13 Euros on a safe ferry- but refugees are not allowed on ferries ) so he had to work the long year to get the money to pay for his boat fare. In turkey he was beat daily and when he reached the boats he said they were beating people and holding guns to their heads and robbing them of any luggage they had left- the boats are mostly entirely filled with families and children. The mafia then broke his leg and threw him in the boat and later he was thrown overboard. the Turkish mafia just laughed when the boat capsized full of children and they sped away on another boat. I found him close to hypothermia in a bad way but he survived and I tried to convince him he was finally safe but his eyes told me he didn't believe me. Tonight it is very cold and the refugee boats have struggled in high winds and waves and have tipped over all day and night in the very dark waters.

Many children died and the ones that made it were blue. We worked hard in CPR to save their lives -one survived and all the others died. After we got back from that rescue to our base we saw 3 boats capsized in front of us close to shore so we had to scramble to act fast before the sea swallowed them up or scrapped them across the rocks- The solar puff lights are a true God-sent and they light up the dark makeshift hospital bus and are given to refugees as they land wet and cold where they then have to walk 50 kilometers uphill carrying babies and children to the refugee camps. These are just 2 stories of the 1000's we hear from daily and my mind can’t think of the solution but I do know I can help these people right in front of me and the solar lights are so needed so please step up to donate for more lights to reach us. When there is time I try to blow bubbles at the kids and dab perfume on women who haven't washed in weeks but tears just seem to leak out of my face as we all shiver in the cold hugging each other in the purest form of love. I try to tell them I love them in broken Arabic or Farsi and then later back at the local cafe volunteers meet and cry and laugh and just try to cope with the trauma of the past 24 hours- ready for the next day full of the same.

The situation with the Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing from their homes and communities is very serious. It is so dangerous in their own countries that these families are forced to walk hundreds of miles with small children and babies with only what they can carry on their backs. They then pay $2000's to pile into a overcrowded, unsafe small rubber boat to reach the entry point to Europe on the Greek isle of Lesvos. As the boats approach the coastline, the skippers slash the rubber boats to make them sink, forcing the Greek Coastguard to rescue everyone... causing many to drown. The refugees arrive cold, wet and hungry and many are in shock- one woman gave birth on the beach a few days ago while 3 others drowned. Upon arrival, volunteers provide dry clothes, food and medical attention. The refugees then continue on yet another long walk to reach the refugee camps. We have had emergency calls over this past weekend pleading for solar lights as the large tents and camps in so many areas are pitch black. The photos attached are tents full of people and at night its pitch black inside. Most of us underestimate the importance of light in our lives. In the case of refugee camps, light provides a staggering percentage of increased safety for the residents of these camps.

The Team: $4,555 TOTAL RAISED SO FAR

Fundraiser Title

Alison Thompson

Amount Raised



15% Raised of $30,000 Goal

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marian salas

Amount Raised


Fundraiser Title

Martha Velez

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