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What we do
Our incredible team of six Syrians support over 2,500 families in the Bekaa Valley. Families -mostly who live in refugee tents on local farmland- can visit The Free Shop every six months. We help around 20,000 individuals, most of whom are children under the age of 12. They can come to our store and choose clothes, shoes, bedding, toys, underwear, menstrual products, nappies, shampoo, laundry detergent, socks, hats, gloves, and more. We're the only charity in the area giving clothes with freedom of choice, and we support a different 100 families every single week.
We hope you can help us get ready for the coming winter in 2023 - 2024 and have enough funds to help families who cannot afford their own clothes, bedding, new underwear, hygiene items or menstrual pads. Some other charities in the area have closed down recently because the situation in Lebanon is really difficult, but we are here for as long as possible. We've started this crowdfunder so you can directly help families in need this winter. Every donation is important.
This is what a day inside our shop looks like. Usually women come and choose clothes for their families, but also sometimes dads and kids come too.
The situation in Lebanon has become really drastic in the last 18 months+, with many Lebanese families also asking us for support. Naturally, we are prepared and proud to help them out in a time of need. Simultaneously, recent rising tensions in the country makes it harder for us to work safely and everything has become more expensive with the economic crisis. With more workload and less resources, we're still completely dedicated to providing what we can for families. This is why we are asking for your help to make sure all kids and parents in the area have the basic items they need to live a decent life.
Who your donation helps
80% Syrian families living in Informal Tented Settlements, 15% Lebanese families living under the poverty line and 5% Palestinian and other families in need. We work in the second most impoverished area in Lebanon where almost all families are living on some kind of support, be it from the UNHCR, local charities or family members sending money. Families experience power outages, lack of water, medical care, access to education. Unemployment is extremely high and many refugees suffer from PTSD/stress.
These are kids who live in a tent in Bar Elias. We gave them new clothes for Eid in May 2023 and the parents were so happy they sent us this photo
How your donations helps them
your donation goes to one of these three projects;
- The Free Shop, a physical space where people browse and "buy" clothes, shoes, bedding, hygiene items, toys and more with freedom of choice.
- Menstrual health project, giving training and distribution of sustainable menstrual pads to women and girls to break taboos and improve comfort and hygiene.
- Individual case work, giving tailored support to families in need. This might be paying medical bills, distributing a food pack, providing a heater or fixing a house after a flood etc.
The impact we give is that a woman has menstrual pads to use, children have clothes and shoes to wear, they can brush their teeth, their dad can sleep warmly at night, and their baby siblings can have nappies, baby wipes and clothes to change into. These are all very basic items which no-one should live without. Vulnerable people can live a quality life thanks to our work.
Trying on shoes inside The Free Shop. When you can't afford basic items, like shoes for your kids, what solution is there? We see many children who share shoes with their siblings or taping up their shoes for exactly the reason that there is no other solution for them. Apart from a shop like ours where you can get what you need for free.
Our financial year is May-May. At the year ending May 2022, we had an income and expenditure of around £45,000. Year ending 2023, we expect it to be around £80,000. The accounts are in progress. Year ending 2024 it'll be around £65,000 (we think).
What do we spend this money on? (ideally)
Buying clothes, hygiene items, blankets, underwear = £20,000 a year
Buying menstrual pads and shipping sustainable menstrual pads to Lebanon from the UK with the help of Pachamama Project = £8,000 a year
Stipends for the six team members = £14,000 a year
Rents for the shop space and three small warehouse/garages = £6,000 a year
Buying food to distribute to families, especially during ramadan = £10,000 a year
Emergency support for medical, fire, flood, evacuation... = £4,000 a year
This photo is from volunteers in the UK who sent a container of aid (10,000 clothes and 12,000 menstrual pads!!) to Lebanon in May 2023. The photo below is the container arriving in Lebanon in July!