One year R&R Syria - call for more and better aid!
In the end of October 2012, we met for the first time in Brussels for building our new NGO in response to the Syrian crisis. On 2 January 2013, we met the Belgian notary for the official foundation. One year later, the first Peace Centre is up and running. More than 300 refugee children are receiving regular education through our staff. Time to meet again!
R&R Syria has by now more than 120 members in 16 national chapters. Delegates came from across Europe and the Middle East on their own costs to meet in Brussels during the weekend of 7/8 December 2013 for an Extraordinary General Assembly. The first year of exercise has not been concluded yet, but we needed to discuss our future development. We are planning to open a second Peace Centre in Lebanon and perhaps a third in Turkey in 2014. Also, we were looking for ways to channel more aid inside Syria where it is very much needed.
New campaign for more educational support
With the help of more than 1,000 individual donors, we have achieved our initial fundraising objective for the establishment of a first Peace Centre at the Lebanese border to Syria. Thank you all for your trust and generosity! Your support also allowed us to realise our summer volunteer programme and to fill our Peace Centre with life. Profiting from the experience of the intensive foreign classes given over summer by our international volunteers, we have decided to extend our educational activities beyond our own Peace Centre and we are asking for your help for doing so. As from now, you can decide yourself where your money goes. Besides our Educational Programme Line, you can also fund our humanitarian aid activities.
World-wide solidarity with refugees in need
The past two months have seen 18 international volunteers arrive at our first Peace Centre in Bkarzla, Lebanon and fill it with life. They came to bring relief and reconciliation to the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees stranded in the North of Lebanon alone. They came from the most diverse origins all over the world: from Mexico to India, but also Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, the UK and the US… and of course from Lebanon. You can read at our special volunteers blog more about their personal experience.
Thanks to their outstanding commitment and passion, four weeks of intensive language classes took place, assisting 60 Syrian and Lebanese children, 47 of whom successfully completed their class. A day-care was established to give children under the age of 10 a chance to play, sing dance and draw in a safe and peaceful environment, together with other children from different communities. We held weekly cross-country games, where up to 80 children participated each week in swimming in the river, hiking in the mountains and various games. Our volunteers also participated in our outreach activities, meeting local refugees in the various camps that surround our Peace Centre and hearing their stories, building thus positive relationships with them that will set the foundation for our future work in the area.
Uniting Sunnis, Christians and Alawis
Report on our first Peace Iftar uniting Sunnis, Alawis and Christians in solidarity with Syrian refugees in the Akkar (Lebanon), written by R&R member Isabella Eisenberg.
On Monday, 29 July 2013 (20 Ramadan 1434), an unlikely group of fellow diners gathered in front of a beautiful mountain top restaurant in the village of Miniara, in the Akkar district of North Lebanon, less than 15 minutes by car from the Syrian border. R&R Syria united representatives from all religious communities and groups present in Akkar for a Peace Iftar in favour of Syrian refugees from Qusayr, Homs and other parts of the country. Amongst those attending were representatives of Sunni and Alawi groups who are fighting each other a few kilometers further South (in Tripoli) and a few kilometers further North (in Syria). A potentially explosive mixture, and yet – if managed well – a mixture with huge potential.
Launch of Peace Iftars in Lebanon and beyond
We wish all our Muslim members and friends a joyful and holy month of Ramadan. We have started our special Ramadan activities with Syrian refugees in Lebanon but also in our national chapters in Europe. Muslims or not: many of us have started fasting in spiritual solidarity. We all hope that Ramadan 2013 will become a month of repentance and reconciliation.
We started into the holy month with a March into Ramadan with Syrian refugee kids in Halba (Lebanon), close to our first Peace Centre. Together with a local partner organisation, we had a cheerful walk, ending in the distribution of several hundreds of Iftar packs to poor families in need. In the coming weeks, we are organising Peace Iftars with Syrian refugees and with different communities in Lebanon: Sunni, Shiite, Catholic, Orthodox, Alawite and Druze. We wish to contribute a little bit to easing the tensions between Sunnis and Shiites that are currently devoring Syria, Lebanon and many other countries of the Middle East.
First-aid kits for survivors from Qusayr
The preparations for the opening of our first Peace Centre for young people from different communities affected by the Syrian crisis have reached their final stage. We signed the rental agreement for a great house in the North of Lebanon, hardly 10 km away from the Syrian border. It will open on 15 July and shall be fully operational by the beginning of September.
In preparation of our small opening and we have started the distribution of first-aid items to newly arriving refugees who had to flee the hell of Qusayr. After a thorough evaluation of the needs and of the crisis response in the field, we decided to distribute emergency-aid items that are not included into the standard operational procedures of the UNHCR to new arriving refugees.
Ramadan Volunteers in Lebanon
You want to help Syrian refugees in need? You have an interest in interfaith encounters? You have experience with teaching kids sports, arts, languages or other? Come and join us this summer in Lebanon as one of our first international volunteers! We are seeking dedicated men and women who are motivated to gain a lifetime experience with helping refugees in the field.
A few days ago, we have signed the rental agreement for our first Peace Centre in the North of Lebanon, where Syrian refugees and Lebanese hosts in need can find relief and reconciliation. As the opening is coinciding with the holy month of Ramdan, when Muslims are supposed to fast and refrain from all worldly activities, we decided to start our activities in the Centre with a special summer programme responding to the urgent need for interfaith solidarity with those suffering from the Syrian crisis.
Opening of our first Peace Centre
We signed today the rental agreement for our first Peace Centre in the North of Lebanon as from 1 July 2013. The house is situated in the beautiful small village of Bkarzla in the Akkar district, only 12 km from the Lebanese border with Syria. More than 200,000 refugees have become stranded in this district alone, often in poorest conditions.
The house has a surface of about 700 m² and a huge garden. It is situated in a green and secure environment to allow beneficiaries to breathe. It is fully equipped, including 3 huge multi-purpose rooms and 6 bed rooms. The bed rooms will be transformed into offices and further class or meeting rooms over the coming weeks. But over the summer, they will accommodate our first international volunteers. We will use the opportunity of the holy month of Ramadan to start activities gradually.
Eye-witness report from Akkar, Lebanon
Starting our operations for relief and reconciliation amongst both Syrian refugees and Lebanese hosts in the Akkar district of Northern Lebanon, our field team is witnessing the influx of survivors from the combat area of Qusayr (Syria).
The stories we hear are horrifying. One survivor said he had buried 110 corpses with his own hands on the way between Qusayr and Lebanon. Entire families had to walk for up to 10 days in the mountains, without food, water or any other supplies. Once they arrive in Arsal, many of the survivors head on to other regions of Lebanon to find a safe place. Those in dire need of medical treatment are received by the Lebanese Red Cross and distributed to hospitals in different regions of Lebanon.
But this is merely the beginning of another torture. Despite the incredible efforts many Lebanese make for accommodating Syrian refugees, we have received alarming reports about the refusal of emergency aid. Most of Lebanese hospitals are private institutions and receive wounded refugees only against cash. No money, no treatment! Some hospitals are reported to have doubled prices for Syrian refugees.
Our brand-new Fundraising Brochure is available, resuming the text of our campaign. Please download the PDF file in the document section of our website and please send it per email to all your family and to your friends! A French and a German version will also be available very soon. Please contact us if you want to receive a copy in high-definition to be printed out!
Relief & Reconciliation under hacker attack
We couldn't believe our eyes. Last Thursday, our team was about to take the next step in our fundraising campaign. The new brochure was ready to be sent. And then: blackout! All of the sudden, our campaign site on Indiegogo went dark. All donors who had contributed several thousands US$ until then, received an automatic email saying they had been reimbursed "either at your request or at the request of the campaign administrator". I received such a mail as well for my personal donation. Being myself the campaign administrator, I was quite astonished.
We need your help
Our work is mainly relying on the help of our volunteers, supported by private donations. We are looking for 500 persons who are willing to make a pledge of €10/month. Please contact us if you want to become one of the 500 Patrons of the Peace Centre!
500x10 for the Peace Centre
We wish to maintain full transparency with regard to our funding. For this reason, we publish every single donation on our website. Please find below the latest entries in our donors' registry.
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Welcome to R&R
You are on the homepage of Relief & Reconciliation International AISBL, a non-profit organisation under Belgian law that is combining peacebuilding with humanitarian aid in response to the Syrian crisis. We are uniting different communities around a common cause: the future of the youth. We opened our first Peace Centre and a refugee camp school in the North of Lebanon, only 12 km from the Syrian border. Read more on the following pages about who we are and what we do.