We are on a mission to raise at least 3000 pounds to buy a Van (and pay for insurance/petrol etc) - enabling us to create ‘our community van’ idea, a project working with Refugees/migrants based in Ventimiglia, Italy (on the border of France)!
- is for women and children to use everyday. They will be able sit inside and relax, drink Chai and laugh, escaping from the hundreds of men around them.
- will be full of learning resources - it will be a central place for learning new languages, focusing on English, French and Italian! We will host daily lessons giving everyone a chance to be distracted from the reality they are currently living.
- will be full of artistic vibes, giving all a possibility to communicate their emotions and stories through all types of mediums.
- will be full of music! Music is truly the remedy! The very moment an Eritrean song comes on, you should see the way all are smiling and clapping! We will have many instruments ready for loan, giving people more to do during their time of waiting!
- will be ready with solar panels, allowing Wifi and a charging unit, we will also have Tablets and mobile phones don’t underestimate the power of technology, being able to contact a close family member or relatives - some who haven’t been able to do so for months really is a gift many are wishing to have!
- will also be used as accommodation for those wanting to come to Ventimiglia to help share the love!
It is not only money we are looking for, maybe you have a van to cheekily donate? Or anything mentioned above!
Why on earth should I give?! It’s a good question…
The past four months has been a whirlwind of emotions - many people have told me I should be blogging the sort of stuff I am going through, but honestly I don’t even know how to think let alone type after witnessing daily racism, injustice and just human stupidity.
Ventimiglia is a strange place. A historically mafia town. It really is like stepping back in time. Coming from Birmingham, a city full of many races and beliefs, to being surrounded by beady eyed old Italian men and women, all who look at anyone of ‘colour’ as a piece of filth, a burden to their society and thieves. Yo. The racism here, is REAL.. I have had women scurry around me scared that being in a 5 metre proximity would possibly give them some kind of ‘brown person’ disease, I have had shop assistants refuse to take money out of my clearly filthy hands (ok… sometimes I don’t wash my hands.. but that's not the point!) Cheers Lidl for making me feel welcome!
But Ventimiglia is one of MANY migrant hotspots around Italy. With the camp having a maximum capacity of 600, and roughly 100 -150 men who choose to sleep homeless under the highway bridge, not that I blame them, if I was told to share three toilets and showers with 599 other people, rah, I would be heading to that bridge straight away. But this is where I have spent a lot of my time during the past 4 months, plus also visiting other locations like La Chapelle (Paris) and Calais.
When someone tells you one more woman got raped under that bridge, your heart is torn apart even more than what you thought was even possible. Great. One more problem to add to this crisis. When I was told about the gang rape, it was five men on one teenage girl. I became paralysed - confused and full of hatred, hating the men who could do such a thing, but also confused and not really knowing who to blame. Yes the action was taken by the 5 men, however, the system our ‘glorious’ countries have created, I believe, has to be blamed as well.
But whoever is to blame, the end result is emotional and physical torture that his one girl has had to endure - and as hard as it is to say, she is just one of thousands.
Yes I have a lot more to say about SO many other things, however, this community van is going to be amazing. A reminder to all that giving clothes, food and shelter is not enough - smiles and a sense of community is much more beneficial to any human.
We are looking to raise 3000 pounds, to purchase the van, converting it into something special, and to keep it running for next year, help to provide funds for other ideas we have and have started in Ventimiglia and yes paying for all that boring paper work! We are more than happy to send you specific receipts to show that your money is not being used to finance our chocolate addictions.
Grace and Peace
Jas and her minions x
P.s. please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org - I can let you know more about the other projects (SolidariTEA, Kesha Niya, Eufemia Infopoint, Red Cross and Caritas) and how you can be involved!