By Christina Samson, President of Madrid For Refugees
En español aquí
It’s been a year since the big launch meeting for Madrid For Refugees (MFR). Over 80 people filled up a hall in Sol, eager with enthusiasm and big hearts. We’ve come a long way from that moment until now. From an idea that started when I met a remarkable Syrian refugee woman at a meeting, who opened my eyes to the local and global dimensions of the crisis, to now a full fledged non-profit registered association in Spain — I can’t help but feel proud and honoured to have witnessed our growth and accomplishments over the past year.
Overview of MFR’s first year
Who: Recipients of MFR donations – Over 23 families living in the community and over a hundred individuals at the refugee center from over 19 countries: Palestine, Syria, Nigeria, Mozambique, Honduras, Iraq, Algeria, Ukraine, Colombia, The Gambia, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh, Morocco, Western Sahara, El Salvador, Eritrea.
What: Household goods, furniture, clothing, school books and supplies, start up equipment for small businesses, toys, hygiene products, shoes, language classes.
Over 10 refugees have been able to find paid employment and earning opportunities thanks to MFR’s job assistance team and various MFR-led events and initiatives.
Chefugee: Pop-up dinner events prepared by refugee chefs cooking authentic fare from their home countries. During the night, guests get to mingle and speak with refugees about their personal experiences. Read about the 1st & 2nd events.
- Group Boxing Classes: Held every Saturday at Retiro park with a refugee who is a fitness and boxing trainer from The Gambia
- Stepping Stones benefit photo exhibit: Photos of the refugee experience in Lesvos were showcased, and visitors donated to buy prints. Proceeds went to buy physical fitness equipment for refugees in Madrid.
- Internations: Madrid For Refugees presented at Internations Social Impact Night
- World Refugee Day: Benefit concert with local musicians
- Summer Benefit Party at Sala Maravillas
- And of course, massive donation campaigns throughout the whole year!
MFR TEAM AND VOLUNTEERS
Madrid For Refugees core team is comprised of over 25 international volunteers from over 12 countries, with several other volunteers contributing in other ways throughout the year. The Facebook group has over 1,500 members.
Besides running MFR, volunteer contributions included activities and classes for refugees, such as music/guitar classes, English classes, business support in helping refugees run their own businesses, running events such as Chefugee, helping refugees find housing and employment, developing partnerships with businesses and other organisations, and gathering and delivering donations.
Madrid For Refugees’ Chefugee initiative was featured in the press:
PARTNERSHIPS AND FUNDRAISING
Madrid For Refugees’ organisational partners: Centro de Acogida de Refugiados (CAR) in Vallecas and Asociación Cultural La Kalle.
Madrid For Refugees raised €1000 for Dirty Girls of Lesvos Island.
Special thanks goes out to: LETS Language Education Training, Slow Mex Restaurant, Internations Madrid, Sala Maravillas,Variopintos, Guacamayo Tropical, Susana Durán, Ben Roberts, Rosa Guerrero, Natasha Mason, Paloma Rodriguez and Tom Leacy.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES…
As we look ahead into the second year of Madrid For Refugees, we are amazed to see how far we’ve come. But of course, there’s still much more to do! Let’s keep making a difference, every little bit counts.
- Donation requests: We will soon be doing a donation drive for winter clothing, hygiene products and makeup.
- Upcoming events: Save the dates!
- Chefugee events on October 15 and November 12. To sign up, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- MFR Benefit Party at Sala Maravillas on November 25.
- Volunteer opportunities
About the author: A California girl at heart, Christina has been an adopted madrileña since 2010. She works as a Communications Specialist at the United Nations. She started Madrid For Refugees in 2015 after meeting refugees in Madrid and hearing about their powerful experiences firsthand.
Want to get in touch with MFR? Contact us here.