Refugees Aid Barcelona is a 100 percent not-for-profit, grass-roots action group that gathers donations of goods citywide, sorts and packages them, and sends them directly to refugees all over the world. People to people.
On September 3rd, horrified by the viral images of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi and dismayed by on-going political apathy towards the growing plight of Syrian refugees, Barcelona residents Rita Rueff Lopes and Alberto Caio launched an SOS for immediate citizen action – from their living room.
The couple put together a Facebook page asking for donations of warm winter clothing, toiletries and blankets, to collect and sort in their flat, and send to refugees in camps in Greece. Within 24 hours, hundreds of people had liked the page and written to the couple, asking to drop off goods and volunteer their time and services. Their Sants flat was soon filled with bags of donations arriving around the clock. Alberto and Rita have expanded the team to five, including Sairica Rose, Kat Lovell and Eleni Ntampali to assist them in liaising with companies that wish to participate, organising essential logistics and coordinating the ever-growing volunteer network.
Eight days later, Refugees Aid Barcelona had become a city wide initiative: a total of 14 drop-off points now serve every Barcelona neighbourhood. A team of over 50 volunteers helps transport, sort and box thousands of donations from generous citizens, and delivers them to a central depot in La Salut, ready for transportation.
The first shipment is scheduled for early October, to Thessalonica, where it will be equally distributed among refugees by local NGOs. Once delivery has been made, Refugees Aid Barcelona will organise further shipments to refugee camps worldwide.
The cycle is on-going, and donations are continuously and gratefully accepted. Local businesses like The English Supermarket, Muebles Blanco, Forward Fashion, Estilo Nordico, Café Atelier, Barcelona Designs and Fincas Pachan are already collaborating, by providing goods, storage space and packaging materials, with more companies stepping forward on a daily basis.