We don’t always know how to help, but when the call came from Montpellier saying that an empty squat needed to be furnished and made ready for refugees living in the streets, LSR volunteers jumped at the chance to help. And this is what happened:
We spread the word around our network and asked for mattresses, beds, blankets, sheets, clothing, furniture, heaters, curtains, floor rugs, bicycles, and food. The response was overwhelming. People in various locations offered their garages and basements to temporarily store the donations.
More volunteers drove all around the region in vans and trucks and cars to pick up the donated items and deliver them to the squat in Montpellier managed by Solidarité Partagée. At least 75 m3 of beds, mattresses, blankets, warm clothing, towels, bicycles and many other items were delivered there over the last few weeks.
The three biggest collections plus deliveries (totaling 60 m3) were made December 4, 5 and 13 with rented trucks. Here the details:
December 4th : A team of 6 volunteers with a rented truck made 8 stops and collected 20 m3 of material (clothing, bicycles, food) and delivered them to the squat. They brought picnic lunches and spent all day on the project.
December 5: A team of 4 volunteers made 8 stops collecting again 20 m3 items (more bikes, warm clothes, and food).
December 13: A volunteer team of 4 made 7 collection stops filling a 20 m3 truck with beds, mattresses, sheets, blankets, comforters, furniture, tables, chairs, kerosene heaters, clothes, and food. And delivered it to the squat
All this involved many days of work and effort from these volunteers and their helpers even before these large deliveries were made. The additional 15 m3 of goods were collected and delivered earlier by a number of individual people in their own cars and vans.
We are grateful for all the enthusiasm and generosity generated by this project. One of the volunteers expressed it this way:
“What I particularly remember from these collections/deliveries: I feel that I am no longer passive with regard to the situation of the refugees. I participate in my modest way, to bring them a little comfort. The refugees we met (mostly sub-Saharan Africans) surprised me with their positive attitude. I was able to talk with some of them (Malians, Sierra Leoneans, Afghans) about their current situation, but not enough for my taste. We also had the chance to meet generous, altruistic donors, volunteers to participate in the collections and all of them, very rich in fabulous and original experiences. All gifts of Life.”
The result of all this work? Many cold and lonely refugees will now have a roof over their heads, beds to sleep in, and food to eat this winter. And they will know people care about their plight.
Thanks goes to all of you who supported LSR in this great effort!