Road to Calais 5

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Thank you all for helping us feed, clothe and provide further aid to so many refugees this weekend in France. This is what we managed to do with your help:

– RTF DISTRIBUTED 200 FOOD PARCELS (WHICH ALSO INCLUDED MINI HYGIENE KITS INSIDE)

– RTF DONATED 60+ DUVETS FOR THOSE LIVING UNDER THE BRIDGES/FORESTS

– RTF DONATED COOKING ITEMS FOR BELGIUM KITCHEN TO PROVIDE HOT MEALS TO THE REFUGEES

– RTF DONATED MEN’S JACKETS, TROUSERS AND JUMPERS TO THE HELP REFUGEES / CARE 4 CALAIS WAREHOUSE

– RTF DISTRIBUTED 200 BLANKETS TO REFUGEES IN DUNKIRK WITH CARE4CALAIS

– RTF DID A TARGETED DISTRIBUTION TO REFUGEES WHO SPECIFIED KEY ITEMS THEY NEED WITH THEIR SIZES

– RTF ASSISTED CARE4CALAIS WITH A GENERATOR FOR REFUGEES TO CHARGE THEIR PHONES FOR THEM TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THEIR FAMILIES BACK HOME

– RTF DONATED 20 SMART PHONES, HELP REFUGEES WILL BE GIVING TO THE YOUNG TEENS WHO HAVE BEEN ON A WAITING LIST FOR THEM

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Much love to those who donated, arranged food parcels, as well as Help Refugees and Care4Calais for being amazing as always.

R2C

 

#GrimeAid17 – Aid distribution in Somalia

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Road to Freedom are thrilled to announce that the distribution of aid to those caught up in the crisis in Somalia has begun  The funds raised at #GrimeAid17, hosted in conjunction with Noisey, have been used to distribute food parcels to those in need in Baodia and Kismayo which will last them for over a month.

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The parcels include:

Flour 25kg, Rice 15kg, Sugar 15kg, 4kg dates and 3 litres of oil

The on-going famine in Somalia, coupled with attacks from terror organisations, has meant that thousands have had to flee their homes and those left behind have been left with limited food and resources.

 

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None of this would have been possible without the generosity of those that donated and attended the event, with special thanks due to Noisey and the artists that performed on the night. All our of love to Human Relief Foundation currently on the ground making this happen for us.

 

Aid Distribution In Syria

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We are delighted to announce that, after a lot of work and perseverance, our aid has arrived in Syria and has finally been distributed. Getting aid inside Syria this time round was not an easy task, but it was more than a worthwhile one and the aid will feed 200 families for an entire month.

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Transparency is something that has always been important to us at RTF so it makes us extremely happy to be able to show you exactly where your donations are going and who they are benefiting.

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None of this would have been possible without your generosity and fundraising efforts, for which we are extremely thankful. We would like to give special thanks to Al-Fatiha Global also for their never-ending help and support with our projects!

The RTF team will be back on the road shortly, heading to a number of camps to supply clothing, food and long-term support including accommodation, medical and educational to those most in need.

You can watch the full video of the distribution below:

Road to Freedom x Lovebox: Official Charity Partners 2017

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“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what colour we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.” – John Denver

We at Road to Freedom are proud to announce that we have officially partnered up with Lovebox where we will be on site for both days of the highly anticipated music festival (Friday 14th/Saturday 15th July) in order to raise awareness and funds which will all go towards the aid of refugees worldwide.

In the past few months we’ve had to helplessly witness one travesty after another unfold in our capital city of London. However, it is sometimes in the most testing of times that communities pull together like never before and refuse to give in to terror and tragedy.

One thing that is important to remember is that for other people across the globe, this living nightmare has become their everyday reality. Whether that be bombs falling on their homes at night, or making the perilous journey across the sea to get to a safe place, the fear we’ve briefly endured is something they are sadly accustomed too.

It’s sometimes easy to overlook someone else’s pain when we are dealing with our own but the turmoil refugees are currently enduring every single day is unquantifiable.

It goes without saying that music has the ability to unite and uplift people from all walks of life, like no other art form can and now more than ever we need to pull together to do what we can for those most in need.

We will be backstage both days at Lovebox interviewing artists and mingling among festival go-ers with our charity buckets, so if you see us please come and say hi and spread the word. On the Saturday we have also been given use of one of the festival tents, so please come and check out what we have in store for you there!

It’s never too late to extend a hand of hope to those that need it the most.

#GRIMEAID17

A huge thank to Kamio for hosting our third Grime Aid event on 15th June, this time in conjunction with Noisey. We raised over £3,000 that we will distribute this summer across Europe to those fleeing the crisis in Somalia.

The night was kicked off by DJs A.G and Logan Sama, who both put on amazing sets. Our host for the night, Poet, then took to the stage to remind everyone of the cause and introduce the acts.

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

The night saw amazing performances from Joe Grind, Scorpz, Manga, Bonkaz, P Money and Big Tobz, with DJs Kenny Allstar and Shorty Bless keeping the crowed hyped as well.

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Rob Jones / @hirobjones (instagram & twitter)

Thank  you to all the artists that gave up their time for such an important cause, to Noisey and Kamio for making it possible, and to everyone who came out – it was once again a night with an overwhelming feeling of love and unity!

 

#GRIMEAID17

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Grime Aid is back and this time, in response to the famine and terror threat in Somalia, Road To Freedom has teamed up with Noisey to curate another Grime showcase to raise funds to purchase aid that will be handed directly to the Somalian refugees around Europe. With the on-going famine crisis and attacks from terror organisations such as El-Shebab and more, thousands have escaped with countless individuals drowning in the Mediterranean sea as they try to seek safety.

Over the past two years, the Road To Freedom team have been travelling to refugee camps all over Europe delivering aid (medicine, hygiene products, food and clothing) to men, women and children fleeing conflict in Africa and the Middle East.

With the support of artists including CHIP, WSTRN, Cadet, Abra Cadabra, Kojey Radical, President T, Jammer, Jammin, Shystie, 67, The HeavyTrackerz and more, who have performed at the previous fundraisers, the RTF team have been able to utilise 100% of the proceeds on past trips to distribute aid where it’s needed the most.

This year, hosted by Poet, Grime Aid returns with an equally impressive line-up, showcasing some of the UK’s most promising up and coming talent, as well as some of the grime scene’s pioneers.

Grab your tickets via Dice and catch P Money, Logan Sama, Big Tobz, Bonkaz and more take to the Kamio stage in support of Road To Freedom.

SECOND AID CONTAINER TO SYRIA

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In response to the horrific chemical attacks in Idlib, Syria, we will be sending aid (food and clothes) to families inside the city.

After the success of delivering aid inside Syria earlier this year, we have again partnered up with the Al Fatiha Foundation to provide food parcels that will feed over 200 families. One food parcel will contain enough food to feed a family for a month, containing items such as dates, rice, and oil amongst many other items.

We will also be sending summer clothes for men, women and children. Please contact us for the list of items we are collecting.

Thank you to all that have continued supporting us to help others – every penny makes a difference!

OUR CONTAINER HAS ARRIVED IN SYRIA

 

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We are pleased to announce that our container has now arrived in Syria and the aid is being distributed to those in need. It took a lot of hard work from all the RTF volunteers, but we got there in the end!

We loaded the container in Birmingham with 30 huge food pallets, along with donations of clothes, baby items, shoes, medical equipment and more. A special thanks goes to Moira and her friends who prepared 100 food parcels to go in the container.

The container has now arrived in Reef Latakia, a camp full of families in desperate need. We’re very pleased to say that the food aid has been distributed to those in need and the families are able to go in and choose what they need the most from the donations.

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Thank you to everyone who donated and made this a possibility! You can watch a video of the container arriving here.

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#RoadToAthens3

Purchasing food for a woman living alone.

Purchasing food for a woman living alone.

It is, at times, difficult to get my head around the fact it is already October, the familiar autumnal coldness has returned, but most importantly the arrival of the end of this year is imminent and will mark an entire 12 months since I first volunteered with Road to Freedom.

I wish I could sit here and tell you that in that year peace had been restored to Syria and all other nations at war; That refugees had been resettled, finally arriving at the safe haven they so desperately sought. Alas, life is seldom idyllic, as we all find out the hard way sooner or later, some harder than others.
In the grim reality of it all I can tell you the situation has got worse, far worse in the last 12 months. Throughout the year the death toll in Syria has risen to catastrophic numbers, countless lives, hopes and dreams on pause, trapped in putrid camps with little to no provisions and unbelievably over 500 unaccompanied minors held like prisoners in the Calais jungle, with no one to turn too and nowhere to seek safety. These figures don’t even cover the hundreds of children that are missing, completely unaccounted for, that have no doubt been caught up in some ill-fated nightmare.

For anyone that’s been out to volunteer you’ll be familiar with how the situation swallows you whole and entirely consumes your thought process. I find it hard to think about much else, I feel guilty for enjoying every day basics, knowing my brothers and sisters lie across the ocean, dying more inside with every passing day.
When I was invited to Athens with RTF I jumped at the opportunity. I hadn’t yet visited the mainland of Greece but I knew Athens had become home to a large number of refugees and I wanted to do what I could to help.

In a team of 4 we made the journey and I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by one of our teams’ long term friends out there at the airport, a refugee himself, but no less dedicated than any of us to helping his people. He had insisted on meeting and welcoming us, already a small insight to the nature of these wonderful humans.
After a well needed nights rest we put a plan into action of who needed help and how we would deliver it. To be honest, our time out there was a complete whirlwind, a sea of tasks and emotions combined so whilst it may not be in order, the following was what took place over the course of the week.

Having not long arrived we received an urgent call for help from an independent volunteer who had been made aware of a family of 5- one mother and 4 children – who had no money or food. We headed out to do a food shop for them and went to their private accommodation to deliver it.

Food  shopping for the families.

Food shopping for the families.

With that sentiment in mind we spent some time with this family, getting to know them and listening to their story while the rest of the team assessed the situation elsewhere. We often split up when there were several tasks at hand in order to utilise the time we had.

We promised to check in on them before we left and within no time at all we had received another emergency call informing us of two young men who were sleeping on the streets with no money or food. Thankfully we were able to temporarily accommodate them whilst we were searched for a more sustainable, long term solution. Unfortunately, one of the young men was in quite some pain so we organised a trip to the hospital for him and covered the fee’s. Thankfully he was deemed well enough to return and after picking up a prescription and some food, they settled into a comfy warm, bed for the night. Later that week we found them permanent accommodation in one of the local squats.

Hotel where we were able to accommodate two Iranian boys.

Hotel where we were able to accommodate two Iranian boys.

Unfortunately, although there are squats and accommodation available in Athens, most places are completely full which leaves an alarmingly high number of refugees stranded on the streets in the cold with no food or sanitation.
With this in mind we decided to do a food shop of croissants and water so we could conduct a midnight distribution in the parks and squares. When the time came myself and another female volunteer on our team stayed in the car and the guys, led by another independent volunteer (amazing guy named Rando) went out to drop the items.

In case you’re wondering why we stayed in the car, the situation is extremely dire on the streets in Athens, far worse than we had originally anticipated and it was mutually agreed between the team that the guys would go to assess the situation before we ventured out. When they returned it was clear to see they were visibly shaken. They explained how they had openly seen drugs being used as well as an area within the vicinity where child prostitution was taking place. They had distributed in complete darkness not knowing what to expect, with only their phone lights for navigation.

It’s bizarre because I didn’t actually witness anything from the car but I was chilled to the bone just thinking about what had taken place just yards from me, what would continue to take place every night and I couldn’t see a way out for them. Have you ever felt emotional but numb simultaneously? A paradox of sorts.
After some rest and gathering our thoughts we decided to visit a family RTF had been working with long term, a lovely couple and their two adorable children. We visited them a few times, each time they insisted on us drinking tea with them and we played with the children. They seemed so in need of a friend, an ear and a friendly face, all of which it was our pleasure to provide. One night in particular they told us their story, they had journeyed from the Greek islands in a small, overcrowded boat that no one had been shown how to drive. Not long after setting out they saw a light in the distance which they assumed was the coastguard, their assumption would prove to be correct, the intention of the coastguard not so.

The family told us the coastguard had deliberately tried to sink their boat, even with the knowledge that children were on board. This was the first time on the trip I had allowed my emotions to take over. I couldn’t believe that after all their travels and horrors that someone they relied on for help had tried to drown them. I looked at them, their children, their kindness and pure hearts and it was almost too much to bear. Then I thought of their courage and everlasting hope and my pain seemed to pale into insignificance somehow. I will forever be in their debt; they are my inspiration.

Us with the family whose boat the coastguard tried to capsize.

Us with the family whose boat the coastguard tried to sink.

Throughout the rest of the week we did more food drops, supplying aid where we could, spent time at the local squats and schools, visited a lone lady outside of Athens to deliver her some food and caught up with some families we have been working with long term.

One family in particular we grew close too and decided to surprise visit as it was their daughter’s birthday. This wonderful young lady and her sister have very cleverly taught themselves how to make jewellery which we decided would be a great way for them to make an income and give them some sense of independence again. We also suggested this to the daughter of the first family I mentioned earlier on and later went back to deliver her some materials.

Birthday party for the family's daughter.

Birthday party for the family’s daughter.

The birthday girl.

The birthday girl.

Although we had a lot to do in a small space of time, we deemed it important to ensure we made time to visit one of the local schools in Athens to do a distribution of bananas and juice to the children.
They say a child has a special way of bringing joy to every day so you can probably imagine our excitement when we were faced with 150 little, smiling faces who had all been eagerly anticipating our arrival.
Upon entering the school, the children all rushed towards us excitedly to receive their healthy treat! It’s incredible that such simple things can bring so much joy, even if only for an afternoon and for us there’s no greater reward than to see them smile.

Afterwards we played with them which felt somewhat like being a human magnet as they all wanted to be picked up and swung around at the same time!
You would never imagine in your wildest dreams that these children have fled war and persecution, the warm, loving and gentle spirit they radiate is remarkable, something that truly touched me on this trip.

The team preparing to clean the men's squat.

The team preparing to clean the men’s squat.

Last but most definitely not least we went to visit a new men’s squat that had recently opened and I was quite taken aback at what we witnessed. The men are living in horrific, inhumane conditions, sleeping on hard, cold floors with virtually no aid. As we climbed the stairs and looked around we noticed ‘Help Us’ smeared on the walls in human excrement, a disturbing sight to witness and a testament to the sheer desperateness encapsulated within these walls.
With winter around the corner we knew we needed to do something, so after purchasing cleaning products and ensuring the place was hygienic we decided to buy 73 mattresses with sheets and blankets so at very least these men had something to sleep on.

The mattresses.

The mattresses.

After a wave of emotions and a busier week than I had anticipated, it was time to say goodbye to our now very dear brothers and friends. One of the most special parts of this trip was connecting with our volunteer Imran’s long term friends out in Athens. The boys have all escaped nations torn apart by war, lost family members and all they had ever known, yet they were our biggest helping hand when it came to delivering aid, getting about and deciding the best course of action. They are men that have seen the most torrid times yet have nothing but love, compassion and hope within their hearts. It would seem some humans just have the capacity to withstand the most treacherous of realities and for this they are my brothers, touching my heart like nothing has before. I dedicate this to you, for you are my real life heroes and I carry a part of you next to me every single day.

Liz Lyne

The Refugee Crisis: Have we forgotten our fellow humans?

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has’ – Margaret Mead.

When I was merely a girl people would ask me what I wanted to be when I was older, something I used to frequently spend sunny afternoons in the garden for hours pondering over. I wasn’t wholly confident when it came to career prospects but what I did know even at this tender age was that I wanted to be felt, I wanted to teach, I wanted to evoke emotion but most of all, I wanted to embody the change I wished to see in the world, and believe me, there were many.

Having come from a very intense political upbringing I’d long been interested in the mechanics of the globe and what made the world go round, I was intrigued by the Government, with their shark grins and closed handshakes, perpetually congratulating each other on being Masters of the Universe whilst the common people I identified with wilted slowly like flowers out of season, petals dropping daily.

Then it suddenly hit me. Was I endorsing the universal plight of the people by standing by and not saying or doing anything? Could it be that the likes of you and I were perpetuating the problem by turning a blind eye to the suffering that didn’t personally aggrieve us, but was happening nonetheless?

No one paints who we are except our own fingers but it would be nice for someone to pass us a brush every so often and God gifted me a whole set and an opportunity to evoke change when I met my now good friend Ra’ed Khan and the Road to Freedom team last year, something that would go on to change my world and the way I viewed it forever.
Over the last twelve months the colossal numbers of people seeking refuge in Europe from persecution, war and poverty has multiplied, tenfold, and we have all bared witness to their perilous, sometimes tragic journey from children drowning in the Aegean Sea to others being trafficked, or perhaps even the prison style camps in the Balkans have been enough to make you put down the latest celebrity magazine and really consider what travesties befall our fellow humans.

For Ra’ed this tumultuous, heart breaking situation hit home like a tonne of bricks and inspired him to orchestrate a heroic humanitarian effort, extending a hand of hope and help to those in desperate need of salvation which culminated in the creation of Road to Freedom, a non-profit organisation made up of volunteers who fundraise and work alongside official NGO’s and charities in different parts of the world to provide aid. The team (including myself and Ra’ed) has journeyed to Calais, Serbia, Samos, Dunkirk and the Macedonian border thus far delivering food, clothing and many other much needed items.

The aim of the organisation isn’t simply just to provide the necessary basic items but also to raise awareness internationally about the tragic effects of the continuing vulnerability of the refugees produced by war and oppression.

Sadly it goes without saying that the mainstream media conceal the full scale of the abhorrent situation overseas, it is a den of human destruction and a ploy to cast spells across the globe – spells we all fall under.
We live in a world today where we, the common people, have a platform to voice our concerns more than we ever have before and the greatest privilege that comes with free speech is the opportunity to use your voice for those that don’t have one.

No one seeking a safe passage should have to risk death and prison camps just to cross a border. Refugees have fled bombs, poverty and persecution believing that other countries would respect their human rights and offer them sanctuary. We cannot prove them wrong.

Seeking my own first hand perspective on the crisis became crucial to me, garnering as much understanding and knowledge as possible, hoping I could utilise this to not only better grasp the refugee crisis, but to be a worthy, well informed messenger in order to spread their story far and wide hoping somewhere a heart would beat for them.
On my journey with Road to Freedom I have seen doors shut, cheeks turn and eyes close, I’ve even been challenged about my desire to help. Many times I have been told that I should be helping causes that are closer to home, but since when did political significance bear any relevance to matters of humanity and suffering?
I question if that is what we as a society have become; People that go out of their way to make justifications as to why we should do nothing to alleviate the suffering of others? Would it make us sleep better at night thinking we have valid reasons to ignore innocent lives being obliterated daily?

Every act is an act of self-definition and any opportunity to give to another is one to be grateful for so I implore you to conduct forensic self analysis and look within, can we really sit by while thousands of innocent people lose their lives? I ask you, when the history books are written do you want to be remembered as the problem or the solution?

Joining Road to Freedom saved me in every way a person can be saved, it offered me a new perspective and insight, humbling me, but most importantly it taught me the intrinsic value of helping another and I can tell you it’s the most important work you will ever do. We have met so many beautiful souls on our route across Europe all of which have taken the refugee crisis as personally as we have, together we’ve achieved small, but important victories for these innocent people who have been engulfed in such desperation.

All of this leads to the point that if we cease to be divided, distracted and disinterested we stand a better chance of connecting with one another in love and understanding, out of this paradigm shift will come action that can solve so many of the challenges we as brothers, sisters and fellow humans currently face. It’s imperative we free ourselves from the over bearing narrative we are fed by the media and disregard the labels society tarnishes us with, only then will we realise that before our origin, our culture, our religion or our story, we were all just human.
This ongoing genocide transcends us, it’s bigger than us, but if we work together perhaps we can be the canvas that displays a brighter future for all mankind proving that as ugly as the world is, so much beauty still remains.

Elizabeth Lyne

CONTACT US

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