11 stories of refugees making a difference during the coronavirus outbreak

By 15/05/2020 June 13th, 2020 News, Positive Stories
refugees & bees

Courtesy of Bees & Refugees

All the challenges of the Covid-19 outbreak have not stopped people from doing amazing acts of kindness to support their communities. We particularly liked these stories about people from refugee backgrounds that are really making a difference in their community. Whether they are cooking free meals, sewing PPE equipment, supporting front-line workers or just helping each other to fight loneliness, every small act of solidarity and kindness can lift the morale.

1. Free vegetarian meals for NHS front-liners

The Syrian Dinner Project, a pop-up restaurant set up by five Syrian women based in Aberystwyth, has donated 100 vegetarian meals to Bronglais Hospital to thank the NHS for their hard work during the coronavirus outbreak. Latifa, one of the founders of the project said that she was motivated to prepare the meals by ‘a desire to reciprocate the generous help and support they received from the Ceredigion community.’

2. Keeping the community informed

In Brighton, Boukim, Mohammed and Mos, originally from Iran, are volunteering with Refugee Support Europe to distribute the Council’s information leaflets about Covid-19 to households.

3. Shelters to isolate in Moria camp

Omar Alshakal, a 26-year-old Syrian refugee, has offered outstanding help in Lesbos, Greece while working with Refugee 4 Refugees. He has built 20 cabins to house four people each with isolation spaces in the notorious Moria refugee camp. Omar got his refugee status in Germany a few years ago but headed back to Greece to help others, ultimately founding the NGO Refugee 4 Refugees in 2015.

4. Singing to fight loneliness

The choir of refugees and friends, Citizens of the World, is continuing to rehearse and perform online with singers like Imogen Heap, Felix from Basement Jaxx, and Ian Shaw. Thanks to the donations raised with their shows in partnership with London Contemporary Voices choir, they are helping other refugees and friends to get through these tough times. They also have an open call for refugees to join them in private performances on Wednesday nights. Such a fun and uplifting experience to combat loneliness and isolation!

5. Zero waste handmade face masks

In Scicli, a small town in Sicily, Syrian refugee Mohamed al-Hassan is using an old sewing machine at the community centre where he had been quarantined to produce handmade face masks to be distributed across town. Every day, Hassan can produce up to 30 cloth masks. They are also easy to hand-wash and reuse, without any plastic waste!

6.  Saving the bees during the pandemic

Despite the pandemic, the refugee-run beekeeping project Bees & Refugees, is working hard to save the black bee, once thought to be extinct in the UK. The project, which is crowdfunding on GoFundMe, born to give displaced people a fresh start, is establishing 20 native black bee colonies in west London and, when the lockdown is lifted, will encourage refugees to take ownership of the hives.

Bees & Refugees

Courtesy of Bees & Refugees

7. A solidarity kitchen in Portugal

Nadege is one of the five refugees who have been helping in a solidarity kitchen organised by The Braga International School, in northern Portugal. The kitchen has distributed more than 9,000 meals to those in need during the outbreak. ‘I’ve decided to help because Portugal has helped me and my family when we passed through very difficult moments,’ said Naedge.

8. Risking lives to keep us safe

Marzieh from Iran and Dr Ahmed Subeh from Syria are among the many NHS workers with refugee or migrant backgrounds that are working on the frontline in Scotland. Our deepest gratitude goes to all the people risking their lives to keep us safe.

 9. Sewing for the community

Refugees from different countries in a community centre in Berlin are sewing face masks for donation. Engaging in this volunteer work is helping them to strengthen their ties with the community and improve their language skills said Afsaneh Afraze-Ketab, the coordinator of the project. In Aberdeenshire as well the community group Refugees Aberdeenshire New Scots together with  Friends of Al-Amal Project are producing scrubs bags for NHS workers. They’ve almost made a 1,000, what a lovely craft!

10. Food bank deliveries

Asylum seeker Zak Mohammed has spent the last six weeks of lockdown delivering food parcels with HOPE Nottingham, a food bank in Beeston. He helps to put the food parcels together and then delivers them to the people who need it the most in these tough times. Zak says this volunteer work is keeping him ‘happy and busy’.

11. Blogging to educate and inform

A team of 10 Congolese refugees passionate about storytelling started a blog called Histoires de Lovua to share vital information about how to stay safe in the pandemic. ‘We have a duty to educate and inform, and this is something I take very seriously,’ said Roger, 43, one of the founders of the blog.

A sincere ‘Thank you’ to all these people for making a difference every day with your kindness. Keep on doing a fantastic job!

If anyone has any positive stories from their community they want to share with us please get in touch at media@imix.org.uk or via our Twitter account @IMIX_UK.

Author Gaia Lamperti

More posts by Gaia Lamperti