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Dear <<First Name>>,

The images of refugees outside Budapest railway station stirred many people to respond positively to the IRC’s call to make financial support available to go directly to people and places where it was most needed.  As funds came in for what we originally called the ‘Budapest Fund’, people were on the move across borders and the places where support was needed moved with them.  So we stayed with the principle that money should go directly to where the need was greatest.  In the end, we did not send money to Hungary but instead to the places below.  We still have money left which will go to groups working on the ground over the winter months, and you can still donate to this fund.  We will keep you updated so that you know how your money is used.

Sincerely,

Sue Conlan
CEO
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Pavla's trip to the Czech Republic came to our attention through a colleague. Pavla was spurred to action after reading news reports about the detention of refugees in Prague who were then released without any belongings. A mother of three, Pavla felt like she had to do something so she booked a return flight and a night shift with a volunteer group who were meeting people and families released from detention and providing them with needed items such as mobiles phones, clothes and train tickets. Pavla's trip was a 48 hour excursion. As a mother of three, it was all the time she could offer. Pavla fundraised at her children's school and among friends and family raising €762 in a matter of days. The Hungary fund operated by the IRC donated an additional €500 to this project to ensure that people being released continue to be met with essential items, a friendly face and a helping hand. Read Pavla's letter of thanks.
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Thomas and the Graz Donations Convoy were brought to our attention by an Al Jazeera Journalist, Laurence Lee, who we have worked with over the years. Laurence, who was in Austria reporting on the refugee crisis,  spoke of the vital work Thomas and other people were doing in a voluntary capacity, driving the length and breath of the country to assist people when and where needed. The Hungary fund donated €1000 to the Graz Donations Convoy to assist them to buy much needed items, such as good winter shoes, food supplies and other material items that were short in supply but in demand. Read Thomas's letter here, a news article written about Thomas and Graz Donations Convoy here and you can view some more of Thomas's photographs here and the groups images here.
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Pat wrote to us via email after returning from a voluntary trip to Leros. He spoke very compassionately and urgently about the situation in Leros, a small Greek island that does not receive the same attention as other places such as Lesbos or Kos.  Pat wanted to raise awareness about the situation and continue to support the response efforts through fundraising and organising here in Ireland. We linked Pat in with a local Dublin newspaper called the Dublin Inquirer so that he could share his experiences and generate some awareness about Leros. €500 of the IRC Hungary Fund was donated to the Leros Solidarity Network.  At the time the sanitation facilities were the most urgent concern and the money was donated with the intention that it would be spent on the most pressing needs. Read a message from Pat upon his return from Leros in November and some images of the work being carried out by the Leros Solidarity Network here.
 
Hello,

We manage to raise 1262 euro in just 4 days which is wonderful and I thank you all. We can be proud of it.

On Monday I arrived to Prague and I have delivered your donations to the volunteer organisation "Hlavak" which means main railway station.

On my volunteer shift I experienced all the routine work helping refugees. When I arrived, 10 minutes later I had to pick up an Afghan mother with a 15yrs old son from a train coming from the detention centre.
We checked their documents, arrange translator from Farsí (language they speak), we provided clothes, shoes, bags, arranged a place where they could sleep over the night because the train to Germany went on the next day. We gave them food and bought train tickets.

We also sorted and packed donations like clothes, shoes, etc. which went to detention centres for refugees staying there.

This all the work continued the whole night until the railway station closed for couple of hours and in the morning it all continued again.

I attached photos of donation, the volunteer team and Refugee Aid kiosk and refugees from Afghanistan. I had to promise that I won't give the photo of them on Facebook, please respect that.

Once more I thank you all and well done! :)

Pavla
Hello,

The Graz Donations Convoy is a grass roots movement of roughly 60 to 100 volunteers that over the last three months has spent nights and days on weekends and throughout the week on border locations south of Austria, providing essential help to the refugees stranded at closed borders. We have task force teams of the size of approx 15 people, equipped with one or two large sprinter cars carrying the infrastructure (4 large tents each 6x3 m, plus tables, gas cooking, large pots of 150l size, electrical and gas lamps, clothing, blankets,....) and 4 to 5 cars for the volunteers. These teams engage based on information from coordinator networks having access to authentic local information where to go and help.

We are able to provide food and clothing for larger groups of people (up to 4000 people) and provide them in a fast manner with warm food and clothing. We have over the last month been involved on the Hungarian-Serbian, Croatian-Serbian, Hungarian-Austrian, Slovenian-Croatian and Slovenian-Austrian border. Nearly every location that is reachable within six hours of driving has been visited by one of our teams. Furthermore we have a large inventory in Graz, where people can donate stuff and some of our volunteers then sort it and package it in boxes so that the task force teams have prepared sorted stuff to take with them.

Many thanks for supporting this vital work. As we head into the winter months people need help more than ever.

Thomas
Hi Everyone,

Just a quick message to the people who didn't follow my daily reports on Facebook of my recent visit to Leros.  I've just returned on Sunday after spending a week in Leros. The situation has greatly changed since I was last there in August. On arrival I notice a big increase in the number of refugees living and sleeping in and around the port area. I arrived and met Anne Tee, I had  6000 euros of your donations five of which I handed over to Anne of Leros Solidarity Network and 1000 I held onto for spending as I needed

6000 refugees were stranded  on Leros due to the fact that there was a ferry strike so no one could leave for a period of three days. I was really impressed by the the amount of new volunteers from all over Europe and US, all full of enthusiasm to help, and it was wonderful to see so many Greek and local people all helping also.

The UNCHCR and Medicine San Frontiers and Practice had arrived and set up clinics in the new large camp housing the majority of the refugees. The weather was really nice but extremely cold at night. I spent the first day helping the refugees at the Port Police yard, handing out clothes and sleeping blankets and making babies bottles. I took a suitcase full of shoes which I purchased in Penny's and poncho rain gear. The Second day I helped give water and biscuits to the newly arriving refugees as they were taken off the coast guards boats, very upsetting to see, and deal with the opposition of the port restaurant to us giving biscuits and water as he claimed it was bad for his business. I spent all day also chasing down a wheel chair for a handicapped young man from Syria which seven hours later I delivered to him.

The rest of the week I distributed clothes from the large warehouse now full of plastic bags waiting to be sorted. There is still a huge shortage of shoes and in the last few days I brought families to the Chinese shop and spent the 1000 euros on shoes.

Leros is now a very welcoming place for all refugees, the government is supplying a hot meal to every refugee arriving and the UN delivered a container of blankets and every refugees  receives a blanket. The UN also MSF have constructed a rows of IKEA style houses. The camp now has toilets and showers to cater for everyone. It's not perfect and it was chaotic while I was there because of the huge numbers arriving and stranded because of the strike.

Shoes are still needed in all common sizes for men women and children, and foil heat blankets  with warm coats and jackets to help the refugees in walk to the Baltic countries. I have kept in touch with many of the people and get emails and text from them as they travel across europe.

While I was there we had a volunteers meeting and a request came from a small Island called Agathonisi which is occupied by about two to four hundred inhabitants who are unable  to cope with the amount of refugees arriving and pleaded for body bags and volunteers to come to their aid. The island is quite remote and at the moment three boats go there three times a week. I'm hoping to make contact with someone there and will try and raise some funds and aid and visit on my next trip to see how we can help into the future.

Thanks again for all your help and donations and please keep stay connected to this issue,

Pat Muldowney 
Irish Refugee Council, 37 Dame Street, Dublin 2, Ireland
Tel. +353 1 531 3248 l Fax. +353 1 672 5927 l Mob. +353 85 8585510
Caroline@irishrefugeecouncil.ie l @IrishRefugeeCo l www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie l Facebook
Watch the #RefugeesWelcome Aerial Video


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