Refugee Aid Côte d’Azur’s container drive for Syria
When a local Facebook group started up in September 2015, no one would have guessed its imminent success. In collaboration with four schools, Les Trois Collines, Les Colibris, Marie Mater and Mougins International School, Refugee Aid Côte d’Azur (RACA) appealed to parents for winter clothing and other essential items and ended up with enough donations to fill 21 sponsor-donated pallets. Antibes Yacht Chandler organised the delivery of the aid to Paris, and then to Iraq, by lorry.
Michon Sweet, who has a yachting background and has been here for three years, joined RACA soon after the Iraq appeal: “When fall started and my son was sent to school with a heavier jacket, hat and mittens, I realised that children in Syria would be facing a winter without warm things. It was horrifying to me, as a parent, to think about these little, fragile, vulnerable children being cold and sleeping on the ground. Many of them have nothing. We have so much.”
There are six equal and competent volunteers on the Refugee Aid Côte d’Azur team, each a mom with young children. Michon and Wendy (American), Emma, Denise and Jennifer (English) and an Italian, Gabriella, who has helped with the refugee situation in Ventimiglia and regularly makes trips to Italy with RACA resources to help both the Red Cross and the Catholic charity, Caritas.
L-R: Michon Sweet, Denise Mosawi, Emma Colvin, Jennifer Kingston and Wendy Cooper-Fostvedt, with the youngest packer, Millie Colvin. Absent, Gabriella Jarratt, who works with Ventimiglia Red Cross and Caritas, where recently the camps were relocated.
Michon explains, “Emma and Denise were two of the founders of Refugee Aid Côte d’Azur and spearheaded the first projects. I know, for them, the start was the Syrian boy found on the beach last September, which brought worldwide attention to the refugee plight. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we all felt helpless seeing what was going on and watching innocent children and families dying. We just wanted to do something.”
In June 2016, RACA will host their project “Kids HELPING Syrian Kids”, where children bring 10 cans of food, pile it all on a table and then draw a message or picture to put in the box before taping it up and shipping it off. “We have some age-appropriate explanations for the kids,” Michon says, “to raise social awareness of those less fortunate. My son is helping. He knows all about the refugees, though he doesn’t grasp the whole concept yet.”
RACA has also launched another drive to send a container with food and medical supplies going directly into Syria. One Nation UK, a registered charity, has generously sponsored this container and Refugee Aid Côte d’Azur needs help to collect 80 pallets worth of aid. They have donation drop-off points throughout the Côte d’Azur and also volunteer drivers if people cannot get to one of these places. There is an Amazon Wish List for food and medical items, and flyers are available for people who would like to post it at their school, church or place of business. RACA can also help coordinate a donation drive. “Collectively, we can make a difference to the many orphans and families in Syrian refugee camps.”