Browsing Category: Field Story

Fleeing for their lives, refugees are making their way to Europe where Convoy of Hope is helping provide resources, connection and hope. Fleeing for their lives, refugees are making their way to Europe where Convoy of Hope is helping provide resources, connection and hope.

Refugee in Bulgaria finds hope through Convoy

The Convoy of Hope team met Mustafa in the Harmanli refugee camp in Bulgaria in 2016. Mustafa fled his homeland in the Middle East because he was from a minority tribe who suffered from intense persecution. Mustafa was studying to become a doctor when he began to witness acts of genocide against those like him. With no other option, he chose to undertake the arduous route to Europe.

Mustafa had heard there were people who could help him on his journey and decided to contact them. These people assured him that he would reach Germany and be reunited with his wife in four days. After paying a large fee, Mustafa waited for their direction.

His first step was to ride in the trunk of a small vehicle along with nine other adults, hidden and crammed against each other. In the heat of the summer, and without being able to eat or drink for four days, Mustafa drew his strength from the thought of seeing his wife again.

Once the car reached the border, Mustafa was kidnapped by his own traffickers. They demanded an extra sum of money from his family back home before he could proceed in his journey. He was forced to spend seven days with 40 other men in a small room with no windows or light and one toilet. They weren’t given food or water during their ordeal and were forced to drink from the toilet to stay hydrated. Finally, his family paid the additional money, and Mustafa was set free.

Despite these incredible hardships, Mustafa was set on reaching Germany. He decided to continue his route through what he refers to as “the jungle,” which are actually the forests of Eastern Europe. Weak, starving, and cold, Mustafa was eventually caught and turned in to the police. After being beaten and held for two days, Mustafa was released.

Mustafa arrived at the refugee camp in Harmali, Bulgaria, and found the Oasis Center, where Convoy of Hope and its partners distribute food to refugees. For the first time in his personal nightmare, someone reached out in kindness. Mustafa now works alongside Convoy and our partners to distribute food and clothing to the rest of the refugees in the camp. He shared with us that he feels his hope has been restored.

***This story was originally reported in 2016. Three years later, with the support of Convoy’s partners in Bulgaria, Mustafa made it to Germany and was reunited with his wife. He has received asylum there. Some details, including his name, have been changed or generalized to protect Mustafa’s privacy.

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Advocacy / Field Story / Inspiration / News

World Refugee Day: Faaiza’s Story

Faaiza is eight years old. Her father holds her close, explains the plan one last time and then tearfully leaves her behind. She watches her parents and siblings make their way through the chaos of the Syrian border into Lebanon. Trucks rumble past and the crowd presses around her, blocking her view. And suddenly, Faaiza’s family is gone — and she is alone.

“My papers were not in order, so they let everyone in my family through except for me,” Faaiza recalls. “I was stuck on the other side of the Syrian border.” This is the life of a refugee. Faaiza’s neighborhood near Aleppo exploded into violence four days before. Having no time to prepare, they fled with all their hands could carry. Their only comfort was the fact they were alive and together — at least until they reached the border.

Stepping out of the view of the guards, Faaiza reaches down and pulls up a handful of dirt from her homeland — Syria. She rubs it on her face and hands, smearing it with the sweat from her long journey. Faaiza tears her clothes and completes the disguise. In just a few moments, she has reduced herself from the daughter of a middle class Syrian plumber to a beggar. With her hands outstretched and her eyes on the barbed wire fence — the only thing separating her from her family — she slips past the guards, crossing into Lebanon by herself. “God helped me find my family,” she says. “He didn’t leave me by myself.”

Convoy of Hope’s team met Faaiza a few years ago as we handed her a small space heater to protect her family from freezing temperatures. Her warm smile cut through the cold wind blowing about the dilapidated Beirut neighborhood where her family lives. For the last few years, Faaiza and her family have been scraping together the pieces of their lives. But, they now have hope for a brighter future. As our team says goodbye to Faaiza, the girl who navigated the border by herself, she turns to her mother and holds out the small space heater. She wants to offer it to another family in their neighborhood whose house isn’t as warm as theirs. Despite all she’s been through, Faaiza’s kindness has never waned.

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Advocacy / Field Story / News

Three ways you’re providing clean water through Convoy of Hope

Hope flows through clean water. Today, billions of people around the world are plagued by a lack of access to clean water systems, causing disease and even death. However, the kindness of friends like you is changing that. Students in developing countries, disaster survivors across the United States, and those in rural communities who often feel forgotten are all having their concerns washed away through wells, water filters, and bottled water provided by Convoy of Hope.

Wells 

According to UNICEF, one in four primary schools around the world have no drinking water service. Students are often forced to decide between drinking from unsafe sources or going thirsty. Convoy of Hope is giving students the answer by providing clean water.

Ngaramtoni Primary School’s nearly 1,400 students had to rely on water from a nearby private school. It helped, but it wasn’t enough to meet students’ needs.

On December 7, 2018, a drilling rig struck water at a depth of 394 feet. As water rose up, the drilling company used compressed air to clean out the borehole, and the volume of water that came out was miraculous. It came in torrents, knocking down plants and collecting in a muddy pool before draining out to a nearby stream. The school teachers and Convoy staff were overjoyed. “Now we can do so much more,” the head teacher said.

Water Filters

When hurricanes, typhoons, and similar storms strike, the biggest problem isn’t a lack of water, but too much of it. Unsanitary flood water contaminates clean water sources — leaving people without water to drink, clean, or cook with. Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team has travelled all over the world bringing water filtration systems to those who need them.

Cyclone Idai slammed into southeast Africa last week. Idai left thousands of square miles of land completely underwater, and clean water is running out fast. Convoy of Hope already has a team in Malawi and another is en route to Mozambique where they will distribute relief supplies, including more than 300 water filters, to the communities affected by this disaster.

These water filtration systems are much larger than the ones you may find in your water bottle or on your sink faucet. They can be shared amongst several families and if kept clean they can last for years to come.

Bottled Water

Here in the U.S., disasters can compromise and even wipe out local water systems, too — leaving families without clean water for days or months at a time.

Families across the Midwest are currently dealing with some of the most severe flooding they’ve seen in decades. Nebraska farms are underwater, homes in Illinois have been destroyed, and several communities no longer have access to clean water as their water system has been compromised. Convoy of Hope has already delivered more than 250,000 pounds of bottled water to communities in need.

When the Camp Fire burned through the city of Paradise, California, it not only left thousands of homes and businesses burned, but it left an entire city without access to clean water. Now, almost five months since the fire, Convoy of Hope continues to send two truck loads of water to Paradise every week. This provides one of the main water sources for the city as families work to rebuild their lives.

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Children's Feeding / Disaster Services / Field Story / Join the Convoy

Surviving Hurricane Michael

Glenn and Elnora were huddled in small closet of their home as Hurricane Michael ripped off part of their roof and left their bedroom completely exposed. Trees fell everywhere and rain poured into their home as the storm drew on.

As the eye passed over their area, things calmed down. Glenn and Elnora ran to their car, hoping to make it to their church down the road before the second half of the storm struck. As they got in their car, a huge gust of wind blew them into a ditch in front of their house. Rain began pouring into the vehicle, but they were scared to get out of the car as power lines came down and the storm resurged.

The couple rode out the second half of the storm from their car, but remained safe. However, the church they had planned to go to was completely destroyed.

“I’ve been here all my life and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Glenn says. “Not this strong of a hurricane. We went through Opal, we went through the rest of them — they’re not like this. Would I stay again? No.”

We Won’t Give Up

The couple is taking recovery one day at a time. They remain without power, water or cell service — unable to get ahold of their kids to make sure they’re okay. However, they remain hopeful, with some supplies from Convoy of Hope and their community coming together to lift each other up.

“We’ll start afresh,” says Glenn. “We never have given up, so we won’t give up now.”

Find out how you can support Hurricane Michael survivors through Convoy of Hope at convoy.org/michael.

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Disaster Services / Field Story