Houston, we have a blog!

Welcome to the shiny, new, awesome and incredibly inspiring blog for the Refugee Activity Project- mostly shortened down to the fancy abbreviation “R.A.P.”. Let’s just get through some basics about what our project is about!

The war in Syria probably didn’t escape anyone’s attention. It’s been going on for 4 years, 4 million refugees have fled to other countries and another 7-8 million are “internally displaced persons” (fancy expression for being in flight within your own country), meaning that about half of the population have been forced to leave their homes. About 220 000 people are estimated to have lost their lives (of which about half were civilians), more than the entire population of Uppsala municipality (“kommun”).

So much misery, but is there any way to help at least a few of these refugees? Yes there is!

Once refugees arrive in Sweden, they often end up in refugee homes to wait for asylum and permission to stay. This process can take years. In the home, they have nothing to do. No spare time activities, no school, no work, no books, not even a deck of cards.

This was the situation we found in a refugee home outside Västerås, in the middle of nowhere. The income of these refugees is about 12 SEK per day, a bus ticket (there’s a bus stop 4 km away) to get to and from town is 40 SEK. They don’t have much to wear as many left Syria without anything.

We decided to do something. We decided to host two activity days for these people. We will collect donated clothes, toys, crafting material, sewing machines, fabric, paint, footbals, jigsaws, plant seeds, fertilizer and anything else you could need to do crafting and create a garden. Crafting and sewing is something many people enjoy doing, and gardening brings people together in doing something they enjoy. Many of these people were farmers back home, and growing herbs, flowers, vegetables, or anything brings joy and a purpose that can go on for long. We’re hoping to get a greenhouse donated, or build one together with the refugees. Perhaps we could even get them some bikes.

Together with this, we hope to create an information booklet with information on how to settle and live in Sweden. Where can you get your professional licence validated? Who can you turn to if your application for asylum gets rejected? What rights do you have? This information is available- but not in Arabic. (We have a group member from Syria, Amer, who can translate for us.) We’ll do something about that.

Hopefully, this can set a good example to other refugee homes or those wanting to do similar projects. If it doesn’t, at least we made a difference to some of these people who have been through enough of the bad stuff.

This is our Facebook page, which we plan to update regularly with things like the event we plan to host to collect donated things. If you feel like donating something, you can send us a message through that page or simply post to it! http://www.facebook.com/refugeeactivityproject

All the best! / Amer, Avesta, Emilie, Karolin and Sornimul