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New Dawn for CalAid – We Need YOU!

New Dawn for CalAid – We Need YOU!
24th April 2017 Owen McCarthy
In Helping refugees



New Dawn for CalAid 

Nariman is due to give birth in 5 months time.  She’s already worried about how she’ll care for her newborn. At the moment we give every new mum in the region the essentials for the first few weeks of their baby’s life.  Right now we can’t guarantee that CalAid will be here to provide that for her.  Our funds are running low. We’d love to be able to tell Nariman we’ll definitely be there. There is no doubt we are still needed here and we want to be here for as long as we’re needed. So we have a big plan, but we’re going to need your help as we need to raise a lot of cash.

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CalAid Needs YOU!

Our mobile pop-up free shop has meant that we’ve been able to offer a choice and a range of styles whenever we hand out clothes, but we are limited to what we can transport to the sites and the fuel and vehicle costs are huge…..so we want to open a shop!! A permanent space big enough so that filled with stock we can offer much more choice. It’s an idea we’re sold on for so many reasons.

The shop will save us hours of time and, in the long-term, money. So we can then provide additional goods to the population here. For example as we approach summer, one thing that we’d like to tackle is the fact that a couple of camps have scorpion problems. We want to provide baby seats to all our newborns so that that can all sit up off the ground. Getting the shop up and running could help us do that.

A shop also means we can offer a much more conventional retail experience, which is important in lives that have been stripped of any sense of normality. We might have a nail bar in reception, toys for the kids, a range of Arabic magazines. We want a trip to our shop to be a good experience and with your help there is no reason why it shouldn’t be.

Our beneficiaries would have the chance to come back on different days. With our current method they have to take all the clothes on the day we are in their camp, whether they are quite right or not. With a shop they are free to come as often as possible, choosing items when they see something they really like. It’s a better, more dignified way of providing aid.

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Setting Up Shop

We’re always looking for ways that improve our service for the people who use it and we know that the shop will help us do that. One lady that we all remember was Khaliba. She’d worked in a shop in Syria and gladly came to help us set up the mobile shop in the campsite that she lived in. She taught us all a thing or two about how to fold clothes beautifully! Her eldest son Abudallah grilled volunteer Kat on the British royal family, hugely intelligent, we couldn’t answer all his questions. Khaliba’s youngest, Maryam, walked out beaming dressed in top to toe pink.

When it came to finding clothes for Khaliba, our range of small coats was diminished. She needed a new coat, she was looking forward to getting one, she saw other people getting one, but we simply didn’t have one that was right for her. She wanted a coat that made her feel good.

Often our clothing distributions sing, friends encourage each other to try tops on, people get excited about new trainers, there’s laughing and smiling, they can be a happy time. But not on this day for Khaliba. This wasn’t a small thing to Khaliba, she wouldn’t have another chance to get a coat for 3 months. This wasn’t just about clothes for Khaliba, in a world marked by loss, it was another reminder that her world was no longer under her control. She couldn’t even select the clothes that she wanted to wear.On the verge of tears, she asked her son to translate ‘are we not human? do I not deserve better than this?’. She did. It wasn’t fair on Khaliba. That day we felt like we’d let her down. Our system let her down. If we had the shop Khaliba would have had more options, she would have had more control.

So we’ve found a building and we’ve even found a builder, but at the minute the shop is dirty and empty. As you can see it needs a lot of help and that needs cash. We’ve got plenty of ideas to make this shop great, so this is where you come in. If you’ve got cash to spare please donate it. If you are planning a fundraiser please consider doing it for us. We’ve launched a my donate page, and we are relying on word of mouth and your support to open the shop and then keeping it up and running. We need to raise at least £6,000.  This will go towards renovating the shop in the first place, with any surplus going towards the on going costs of our operations in Greece.We’d like our next round of distributions to be from the shop and we love a challenge so our plan is to be open by the 4th of May.So please help us out!

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The Story So Far…..

In the 9 months we’ve been here, we’ve helped about 1,500 men, women and children, clothing them head to toe, handing out at least 30,000 items of clothing. We have given out around 6,000 pairs of socks and 6,000 new pants (2nd hand pants are not ok with us). We have sorted over 40 tonnes of clothes. We’ve driven over 5,500 miles, that’s further than the distance between London and San Francisco. We’ve handed out 45,000 nappies. We are the only organisation in the region who regularly hand out sanitary towels, shampoo and soap. We get kids and adults eye tested and provide glasses when needed. We deliver essentials for new babies and we’ve just started to give out pushchairs. but there is so much more to do and we want to do it. So please if you can donate and help us to carry on helping. It’s what we do. CalAid.

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Thank you!  To the donors and collectors, the funders and fundraisers, the sorters and packers, the travellers and drivers, the communicators and agitators, the dreamers and planners.  Every person deserves a chance to belong somewhere, you have been the beating heart that has made sure refugees and displaced people are not forgotten. 

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