The campaign was launched in February with a breakfast at our headquarters. Many volunteers came along to help distribute flyers for our clothing campaign to local households and organisations.
The purpose of the collection? To provide clothing and help a number of refugee families living in Lebanon. These families have all fled conflict in Syria to try find a new life in Lebanon. However, due to the economic climate and limitations placed on them in regard to obtaining refugee status and work permits, they have found themselves subject to abject poverty and living in very harsh conditions.
We saw this in the SB OverSeas schools and decided we had to do something. From our HQ in Brussels, we rallied the people of Belgium and Europe to donate, donate, donate.
We received assistance from many people including our SB Espoir volunteers who organised a clothes swap in Piola Libri and friends and families who donated. As the campaign drew to a close in April, it seemed that every hour of every day, someone was dropping off clothes at our office.
On the day of loading, we gathered in Machelen where our container was located and began sorting and packing the clothes. Many people came out to help us including some volunteers from PwC. Volunteers were welcomed with refreshments and then the hard work began: some packed the boxes, some stacked them in the containers and others kept a register of items packed.
However, the shipment was not without difficulty. Sadly, our container got intercepted at the Lebanese customs and we kept our team in Lebanon waiting for a few weeks longer than expected. However, by July, it was in our hands in Beirut. Our team in Beirut consisting of staff and volunteers quickly divided the materials between our three centres: Shatila, Arsal and Saida and began our distributions. Our intern from the office in Brussels was in Lebanon during this time. She spoke of her experience going into the camps and meeting the different families with whom we work. It was an interesting and eye-opening experience for her as not only did she see the harrowing conditions the people live in, but she also got to see true resilience and hospitality as she was welcomed into their houses to sit down and drink some tea and listen to their stories. In her own words: “It is even more special if we take into account their harsh living conditions and what they have been through since the beginning of the conflict.”