What can you do on Christmas for the migrant and refugee communities?

Christmas has always been a time for everyone to stop and review personal objectives: whether we accomplished the goals we set the previous year or not, whether we got our dreamed job or not, whether we finally stuck to a gym routine or not. However, it can also be a time to think about others, especially the most vulnerable groups who don’t have the privilege of enjoying this time of the year as we do. 

In this blog post, Open Cultural Center (OCC) gives you some ideas to help the migrant and refugee communities through different initiatives. Read and don’t hesitate to leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Donate needed items for our project Youth 4 All

Youth 4 All is OCC’s newest project, which is possible thanks to the collaboration with the association Altiplà. It is developed in Moianès, a rural area in the center of Catalonia. Thanks to it, eight young people that were living in a vulnerable situation are now sharing housing and receiving training in digital skills and agriculture. The aim is to help them achieve emancipation and autonomy, and thus facilitate their social and labour integration.

To help and do your bit, there is a variety of items needed you can donate. For example, winter clothes such as coats, scarves, gloves, jumpers or fleeces; bricolage material; furniture, and electronic items. If you have anything you would like to donate, you can contact us on our social media or contact our Project Manager (+34 633 07 85 17 or carla@altipla.org). You can also drop off any donation at our office in Barcelona (Carrer del Rec, 27).

Buy solidary gifts to raise awareness

Solidary gifts are more than simple gifts. On the one hand, they are a present you give to the person of your choice; on the other hand, they are also a present for the most vulnerable communities. A gift to enjoy and to raise awareness.

A lot of initiatives under this logic exist among a number of NGOs. One example is the Blue Gifts by UNICEF. On its website, you can choose to donate blankets, vaccines, educational material, etc. for the most vulnerable children across the world. In return, you receive an original card that you can personalize and tell the gifted person about the so much-needed present you have sent to the children on their behalf. Other examples are the Fair Gifts by UNRWA, the Gift Catalog by Save the Children, etc. Surprise your family and friends!

Another different and cool initiative is Art for Refugees. It is an online art shop that raises money for charities that work with refugees and people seeking asylum. This initiative is run by four volunteers and sells prints of 100+ pieces of art, which have been donated by artists from across the globe. They are now selling Christmas cards!

Photo: Art for Refugees

Buy our book “My friend!” for your family and friends

A different present to give for Secret Santa or as a Christmas gift. Created in the refugee camp of Cherso, “My friend!” is one of the first projects by OCC. It consists of drawings by children from the refugee camp that explain their journey from Syria to Greece escaping war. Abdul, Elaf, Amar, and Heva are some of the children who illustrated and explained their personal stories: their life in Syria before and during the war, their journey to Europe, their life in the refugee camp in Greece, and their dreams for the future.

The result is a book full of colorful and beautiful, but at the same time tough and sad drawings. It is the story of thousands of children who have seen their lives and education interrupted by war or violence. You can purchase it through a donation of 10 euros, which will be used to continue the activities of OCC in Greece.

Photo: Open Cultural Center

Donate to Reach Refugees

Reach Refugees is a fund helping refugees and asylum seekers in Greece get to essential appointments, such as going to the hospital, accessing legal aid, or speaking to local authorities. Sometimes, entire families have to travel for many hours to attend their asylum interviews. However, refugees and asylum seekers should spend their money on basic necessities, not public transport to appointments they have a right to access already.

OCC is currently collaborating with this initiative to provide transport cash assistance to the local eligible community. The residents of Nea Kavala camp, Polykastro, and Axioupoli are now able to receive a cash refund for the transportation ticket for a vital appointment. Reach Refugees just launched a Christmas campaign in which you can donate to their initiative by buying tickets for a chance to win some great Choose Love merchandise. Check their posts on Instagram about it!

Photo: @reachrefugees

Support Northern Lights Aid’s Christmas Fundraiser

Northern Lights Aid (NLA) is a Greek and Norwegian-based NGO operating in Kavala, Greece. Its focus is to improve the quality of life of refugees currently residing in the country. It provides material support, informal education, and recreational activities to displaced people and others in need, and promotes social inclusion and solidarity within the community.

They launched a fundraising campaign for Christmas with the aim of bringing people’s attention to the worsening situation for refugees in Greece. As they explain, people residing in Greek camps are suffering from more restrictive migration policies and many have difficulty accessing basic needs. We already wrote a blog post about the implementation of a new protocol that prevents residents in Nea Kavala from accessing food. Therefore, NLA is asking for a donation to help them improve the assistance they provide to their beneficiaries. Additional efforts are now extremely necessary to support families with food. Every donation helps!

Take a look at CEAR’s initiatives

The Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR) carries out multiple projects, including specific initiatives for Christmas. For instance, every year it organizes a Solidary Market, which is a flea market where you can find gifts and special objects to support both the work of local artists and people in need. Another initiative is the Christmas Lottery, through which you can buy a ticket number to show your support for refugees.

Inform yourself and spread awareness  

Last but not least, you can make the most of the holidays by watching documentaries and films, or reading books to know more about the migrants and refugee communities. We recently published a blog post with recommendations on sources about migration and refugee movements. Check it!