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Aid Around the World

Creative schemes from around the world

The effort to support refugees and asylum seekers of course goes beyond British shores. Take inspiration from these inventive schemes, initiatives and projects that are currently taking place all over the world.

Australia

Few things are as affecting as a naive drawing of the inside of a barbed-wire fence, especially when you know that the person standing behind it may be staring at that same view for the next five years.

The creators of the Refugee Art Project are a collective of academics and artists who have been holding art workshops for detainees in Australia's Villawood Detention Centre, and among refugee women, in Sydney for the last three and a half years. In that time, they've exhibited more than 500 works to the public, as well as producing seven zines of refugee art.

Safdar Ahmed, project director and co-founder, says that the project "aims to facilitate and harness the creativity and self-expression of refugees in order to challenge misconceptions and educate people about the refugee issue."

Producing art provides a creative outlet and a link to the outside world for those who are otherwise stuck in a confusing and often hostile limbo. Meanwhile, the profits from the exhibited works are given back to the refugees, and often sent on to the families they've been forced to leave behind.

Perhaps most importantly, the art forces those who encounter it to connect with the voiceless. The Refugee Art Project has found a way for refugees to communicate their humanity beyond language barriers.

therefugeeartproject.com

The project harnesses the creativity of refugees in order to challenge misconceptions

Germany

A scheme referred to as 'Airbnb for refugees' has exploded in Germany, placing more than 150 refugees into the homes of those who are keen to offer help and support. Refugees Welcome was founded by three students, after two of them hosted a Malian immigrant on the recommendation of a friend. The man spoke five languages and had been searching for work, but had been forced to live on the streets.

The site links home owners with refugees, helping them quickly adjust to life in the country and live in adequate accommodation. The money for rent is crowd-funded either from family and friends or from the public, so no one is left out of pocket. It has since expanded to more than 20 countries.

refugees-welcome.net

Turkey

When Small Projects Istanbul's founder Karyn Thomas was working in a refugee camp in Damascus, she was so appalled by the lack of education provision for children in the war-torn country that she sponsored a young woman to continue her education outside Syria. Donations flooded in, and the girl now has a full scholarship to a US university.

After this experience, Thomas moved on to helping Syrian refugees in Turkey. Her organisation, Small Projects Istanbul, runs classes on Turkish and art for the children of refugees, who tend not to have the language skills to get the most out of school. Alongside this, they run Turkish classes for adults and a craft collective for women. Thomas believes this will stop the downward spiral into unemployment and poverty that these families might otherwise face, and give the 'lost generation' of Syrians the best chance it can.

smallprojectsistanbul.org

Small Projects Istanbul runs language and art classes for the children of refugees

Norway

Top Norwegian chefs have been feeding refugees waiting outside the police's asylum office in Oslo. Leftover food from the city's restaurants, some of them Michelin-starred, is being handed out alongside specially made vegetarian pasta. The initiative was started by writer and musician Jan Vardøen, who has launched some of Norway's top restaurants. "It's very important that they (the refugees) are met with sympathy," he says.

Hungary

Kate Coyer, director of the Civil Society and Technology Project at Central European University in Budapest, has decided to help connect refugees with their friends and family. Coyer's group of volunteers has been plugging extension leads into all the outlets they can find in Budapest train station, and have also come up with a novel way of offering Wi-Fi: by putting hotspots in people's backpacks and sending them out into the crowd. Six hours of Wi-Fi on the 'Free Wi-Fi, please no YouTube' network costs about £60 to provide, and can support around 12 users.

US

A group of US-based Vietnamese refugees have come together to raise funds for the Migrant Offshore Aid Station, a search and rescue team trying to reduce loss of life in the Mediterranean – the world's 'deadliest migrant crossing' according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Duc Nguyen, an Emmy Award-winning director has launched the #ICAREBECAUSE hashtag to raise awareness and donations, encouraging people to upload videos completing the phrase "I care because…" alongside the hashtag #MOAS. Nguyen fled Vietnam across the South China Sea following the end of the war in 1975, and says: "For those of us that belong to the Vietnamese overseas community, we share a moral obligation and social responsibility to support this mission."

moasusa.org

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