Tag: Convoy of Hope Europe

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

Hope in Slovakia

The Roma people are one of the largest ethnic minorities in the world who have no home country. Spread throughout Europe, their reputation and history have brought significant prejudice and abuse upon them.

“They have an intensely private culture and usually oppose help from outside their community,” says Michael McNamee, former Regional Director of Convoy of Hope Europe.

The Roma live in separate settlements outside of towns, many of which have no power, running water, or even weather-proofed homes. Entire families live in shantys — their homes consisting of rotting plywood, collapsed roofs, and walls with gaping holes. And yet, families with little children live there in the middle of the cold Slovak winters.

Slovakia has one of the highest Roma populations around the world. One settlement, outside of Vtackovce, held just over 1,000 people living in very rough conditions. “When some teams came … to work in the community,” Michael remembers, “we would sometimes send their medical people … to check on the [Roma] villagers, but there was still a significant resistance on their part.”

In 2015, Convoy of Hope Europe decided to host a Community Event in Vtackovce, Slovakia, to try and build relationships with the community. The event was in April, the snow was melting, and flowers began to appear in fields all over the mountains. Despite the hilly terrain, Convoy had medical tents, food distribution, games for the children, face-painting, live music — the works. Guests of Honor had tickets to come through the tents at predetermined times to avoid overwhelming the different stations.

Thanks to our wonderful volunteers and partners, it went off without a hitch. Most every one of the 1,000 people living in the camps attended. Convoy of Hope Europe has held several Community Events throughout Slovakia, and each of them have been incredibly successful.

“Most of society always keeps them at a distance,” says Aaron Davis, a Convoy of Hope team member. “Kind gestures and smiles crossed cultural barriers into their hearts.”

Seeing the incredible transformation that took place in so many families that day makes us at Convoy so grateful that we were able to be a part. And that is all we are — part of a movement of compassion.

 

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope

Staff Spotlight: Bringing hope in the darkest hour

Growing up in Portugal from the age of six through high school, Chris Dudley has truly lived an international life. After high school, Chris lived in many places like Minnesota, Florida, Brussels and Denmark. Now, as Convoy of Hope’s Director of International Disaster Response, Chris continues to travel, preparing for and responding to disasters all over the world.

What brought you to Convoy of Hope?

The guy who started Convoy of Hope Europe had been a missionary in Portugal when I lived there. He has known me since I was six years old. So, he asked if I wanted to come and work with him.

How often do you travel?

About once a month. It depends on the year and what’s going on in the world. I go to all of our focus countries to help get prepositioned disaster relief supplies in-country, work with our staff to try to be prepared and then respond to disasters.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I get to eat all over the planet. I get to eat some of the strangest and grossest food at times, and some of the most delicious, amazing food at other times.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten?

There’s nothing like Lebanese food. Lebanese food is absolutely amazing.

What are some of the biggest disasters you have been responded to? 

Haiti was the first really big one that I was a part of and I wasn’t even really on the disaster team at that point. I was still in Europe. So, I came over to represent the Europe office. And then, probably next to that, would be Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which was a monster of a storm. I spent A LOT of time in the Philippines after that. I thought about becoming a citizen because it just would’ve made my life easier, going in and out of the airport in Manila.

What do people not realize about disaster response?

People, I think, watch TV and they see very sensational images that kind of pull at their heart strings, which it should. But, I think people who have never lived through a disaster don’t understand the depth of how it impacts an individual. Disaster can have a lifetime effect on people. So by us going in and helping people in sort of their darkest hour, for me, is really fulfilling.

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Staff Spotlight

Ukrainian Refugees Receive Help from COHEU

Recently, for the first time in program history, Convoy of Hope (COHEU) hosted an outreach event in Siberia.

COHEU was granted entrance into Siberia — giving them the opportunity to reach out to Ukrainian refugees living in the area. “Access to the country has been nearly impossible for years,” says Michael McNamee, president of COHEU. “Hosting an event in Siberia is truly a miracle.”

COHEU distributed food, water and supplies to Ukranian refugees in Siberia and also delivered supplies to the orphans and elderly in the community who suffer from low standards of living.

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Partner Spotlight / Program Updates

COHEU Continues to Aid Refugees

Convoy of Hope Europe (COHEU) continues to respond to the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe. However, they are concentrating most of their efforts on the camp that has been set up in Calais, France, known as The Jungle.
This week, teams from Holland, Belgium and France will assist with the first ever Christmas outreach there. The program will consist of music, a general food distribution and gift boxes for the kids.

All of the refugees that live in the compound around the area have had their flimsy tents replaced by stronger, but basic wooden structures built by volunteers from the local church.

About 30 miles away, in the city of Dunkirk, there is another camp that hosts 1,800 refugees. COHEU will distribute Christmas gifts to the kids there and will take this camp on as a new project.
Because the refugees are using all types of improvised ways to cook their food and keep warm, COHEU is asking for help to buy more rain ponchos and stoves, as they continue to take significant strides to reach as many Syrian refugees as possible.
For more information, please visit convoyofhope.eu.
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Partner Spotlight / Program Updates