Refugee Art Trail
MISSION STATEMENT To provide a mobile workshop to migrants on the trip to find a safe home. Offering skill shares and practical activities in various art forms depending on the knowledge of the volunteers working with me at the time, but at least, wood and metal work, photography, screen printing and basic off grid survival at the moment. Winterization of two large squats on Lesvos is our current project , fixing windows and wood burners before the weather turns. We provided solar phone charging and lighting in serbia thanks to funding from Catch a smile and Hope and aid direct (charities), and hope to do the same here as soon as funding is made available so that intermittent electricity supply is made permenant.
Combating boredom and offering education is key to mental well-being and gives hope of a new start with new found skills to people looking for a new home and a new way of life in the western world. In so many of the government run camps across Europe and the Balkans, there are no activities or learning programs on offer, and I find that appalling considering that even in prisons such schemes are available, Self harming is common here on the Greek islands!?! Below is my old mission info from while I was living in the camp in Belgrade before its eviction. I am now seeking funding for making merchandise to sell at summer festivals and online to fund moving to Greece or Turkey to continue to offer these things there.
I was the only volunteer living on camp in the Belgrade refugee camp. The site was a squatted series of old train station sheds, in an awful state of repair. Some of them have huge holes in the roof where rain pours in and forms lakes on the floors which soak the blankets and belongings of the guys living nearby. The migrants here are all male, and 99 percent are from either Afghanistan or Pakistan, so there are racial tensions, and fights are common, and sometimes severe. There are many mental difficulties to deal with here to as you can imagine with so many people from war torn countries on site, and no mental health facilities around, and only a basic volunteer ran clinic for minor health problems
I am providing a daily phone and leisure battery charging station for leisure batteries, used for lighting in the rooms at night, and up to 40 phones. This runs from 9 till 1 and is then taken over by other volunteers at the other end of the site while I go on with other activities ranging from installing more lighting, to fixing shoes with silicone, setting up the table tennis tables I have provided... milling timber to make things, from the huge Poplar tree trunks on site, taking the minors on tree climbing workshops or survival skills outings in the nearby forest or a myriad of other thing the camp throws at me. We have made a beautiful picnic table with the help of many of the boys, and we have now sold it to fund our work. It is made of beautiful exotic wood donated to the Calais warehouse's wood yard for fire wood!?! And the railway sleepers abundant on the site as legs.
A typical day is between 8 and 12 hours long, and hugely taxing, as there are over 1000 people with little experience of living off grid, who all ask favors of me... they need tents, shoes, washing lines, a speaker for their calls to prayer at the improvised Mosques they are busy making all around the huge site, lights for these spaces and improvements to their living spaces.
I would love to be able to offer a school space for the growing numbers of minors on the site too!! When I got here there were only a handful, but with new arrivals every day, there now must be over 100 under 18's here. with only one short language class once a day, they are really missing out on their education.
I'm Here in northern Serbia at Belgrade near the boarder into Schengen Europe, and it is hard here for the migrants, really hard... please donate what you can, which will go on kids trips off site, lighting in some of the still dark living spaces and my small living costs... not being in the news means it's outside the reach of usual aid stream, and so we are desperately seeking funding to keep these guys comfortable.. Food and fuel for fires are covered by the few NGOs on the ground here, but my work focuses on making the boys smile a little, with outings, and lights at night for their domestic needs.. I also made a 12 v sound system in a suitcase last week, so we now have regular Pashto parties in the large squatted rail sheds, and they really love them. Having music and a chance to have a dance once or twice a week really changes the looks on the faces...
See more at my blog - https://directactionvolunteers.wordpress.com/
As part of St Werburghs art trail in Bristol, we are also involved in the Light at the end of the tunnel project, to create a time line mural of the refugees journeys. 8 x 4's of 9 mm ply , and 2x2 battoning make up our 70 foot piece of art, which will be updated and displayed around events and cities this summer. See FB/light at the end of the tunnel-refugee journey as well as the blog article at directactionvolunteers.wordpress.com
Please follow my new blog as this and other projects continue.
Donations accounted for :-
1st payment - 28/2/17 UK Pounds -657
Spent on LED lighting, wire, batteries, fuel for truck to go shopping, food (personal), and files for my chainsaws.
2nd payment - 3/317 UK Pounds 84.64
Together with remaining from 1st payment, was spent on van hire for outings payed for on the 3rd Apr( 150 Euro's for half a weeks hire, with the other half a weeks bill being pick up by a cash donation - thanks Sophie and Anna ). Other costs in March were tools and equipment for building our picnic table, including a lot of sanding belts for the sander and a very cheep planner, as well as chain oil and linseed oil for finishing. Also I financed a trip to the Northern border at Subotitca where I built a kitchen for the volunteers in their accommodation/warehouse space there, as well as helping spread their videos on the web, and also distributing food and non food items at the daily distributions there. Travel costs were around a hundred Euros each way in the truck, Some of which were picked up by cash donations ( thanks Sam ).
In April i have spent a lot more on LED lights as on returning from Subotitca - a lot of my work had been 'altered' into a state of near uselessness by the boys here trying to change it. A lot more has gone on making a new 12 volt sound system ( again a cash donation by Sophie and Anna - nice 1 !!! ) and 12 volt phone charging station courtesy of an Austrian organisation.
My truck is costing 100 pounds a month to keep insured out here also.
Thanks for your support!
YouTube.com/undergroundconvoy Previous projects include the Florentine trilogy ... See YouTube
Dav the direct action volunteer!