Letter from Syria....

Recently we were really happy to make a link with http://www.samarasaidappeal.org/, an amazing charity that sends aid to Syria. The wonderful Robin Lovell collects aid from us and delivers it to them. Here is a letter to Robin from Samara which explains a little about the heart breaking places the aid goes to.....

"Dear Robin

Today I am writing from Syria, where I have been visiting widows in Latakia. One of them used to live in Shtabraq, Idlib. One night while she and her family were sleeping, Al Nusra fighters came, killing the residents of this village in their homes and even in their beds. These jihadists had been hiding in caves, in fields and underground until the night they struck and took control of this village. The people I met said that around 1,000 jihadists arrived with guns and bombs.

Many villagers ran away just in time but hundreds were killed and they described the bombs coming down like rain. Many of the victims’ throats were cut when this attack took place in April 2015. They killed the father of these children. He was not a soldier or a fighter, just a civilian like the rest of his family. But these jihadists killed him regardless, taking the rest of the family as prisoners. She tried to run with her children, and had to run up a ramp while trying to escape, but the terror she felt made her virtually incapable and she fell three times while trying to get up this ramp.

One of her neighbours saw her 13 year old daughter being shot as they ran. She briefly held her in her arms as she was dying, then had to abandon her precious daughter to try to save her son in time. But her son was taken by them regardless. Some of the women were taken by the jihadists and were forced to “marry” some of the fighters. They were thought to be been taken to other countries.

This widow and her four children were all put in prison. The youngest was just five years old at the time, and the oldest has a medical condition. They kept these little and unwell children in prison. She described how she was given 65 lashes with a leather whip. What could a simple mother of four have ever done to deserve this punishment? After nine months they were set free as part of a deal negotiated to release Al Nusra members that the Syrian government had in prison, in return for releasing these women and children that Al Nusra had been keeping in prison. The widow commented that most of the Al Nusra fighters they encountered, as much as 90%, were not Syrian, but were from other countries.

This woman broke down in tears repeatedly as she told us of the fear and suffering they had lived, and that she wakes screaming because of the nightmares she has. She cannot forget. Her oldest daughter has disabilities but her other children go to school.

So many displaced people have flocked to Latakia because of its relative safety compared with other parts of the country. As a result the schools are overcrowded and the children have to attend in two shifts. Some children do the morning shift of learning while others do the afternoon session.

While her daughters go to school in the afternoon, this widow uses the opportunity to take on poorly paid farming work to try to cover the rent of the one room they all live in. It barely seems worthy of the high rent she has to pay for it, with paint peeling off the damp patches creeping up each of the walls. She simply cannot earn enough to support her four children.

What this woman and her children have been through is too much. Simply. No child should ever have to experience being imprisoned to be used as a bargaining chip for the release of prisoners linked with a terrorist organisation.

Widows like this in Syria desperately need our support, and they are not isolated or unusual cases. Too many people have had similar and equally heart experiences. We gave each of this widow’s children a new pair of shoes or winter boots to help see them through winter. We visited a number of widows and their children yesterday, giving new shoes to each of them. The daytimes are temperate but the nights are now feeling cold here, and the temperatures will continue to plummet over the coming weeks.

I cannot bring myself to share the photos or videos we took today while I was with this widow. They have had enough of their dignity stolen from them already, so instead I will simply show you one of the streets where these women and children are attempting to pick up the pieces of their broken lives. Our little gestures mean a lot to them, and these women thanked me for being willing to come and be with them, showing love and support for them and their children.

We need the support of people like you to help us collect essential aid to help women and children like this. Our next appeal will be in January, with a delivery deadline to our storage hubs of 1st February.....

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DRS co-founder gives us an early Christmas Prezzie!

The amazing Rhiannon Fae, co-founder of DRS in 2015 and now owner of the Artisan Cafe and Wine Bar in Ashbourne, has just sent DRS the most generous gift! Rhiannon and her partner Paul have been collecting for DRS in a charity pot for the last 18 months. Recently they counted up what they had raised and it came to £1725.15! As if this wasn’t generous enough, they have made the total up to £2000. We are SO grateful to Rhiannon and Paul for this ….and for setting up this brilliant organisation in the first place!!

(Looking at the food and drinks menu I think DRS should make it a priority to organise a trip to the Artisan Cafe VERY SOON!)

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Thank you!!!!

Such overwhelming generosity this morning!!

Thank you sooo much to Tideswell Parish Church for the huge donation and to Suzanne for bringing boxes and boxes of food and water on behalf of Tideswell Church and daughter churches. Thank you also to Sophie from Balfour Beatty for all the children's winter coats.

DRS can guarantee that all these amazing donations will be on their way to Calais or Dunkirk on one of our two aid trips in November and December.

Thank you also to everyone who volunteered today and to the kids who looked after Claire Storey in the creche....

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Container to Chios on its way!

By Ruhi, Refugee Biryani and Bananas

**Winter 40 ft container of aid APPEAL**

**REMEMBER when you helped raise funds to send a 40ft container of aid. 
**REMEMBER when you helped raise funds to buy food supplies, shoes, coats, tents and sleeping bags. 
**REMEMBER when you collected winter aid in Newcastle, Northumberland, Middlesborough, Leicester, Loughborough, Derby and London.

It was a mammoth and difficult task but we did it. We managed to load our 40ft container of aid to go to Chios Island, Greece to help those in the refugee camps.

Thank you to:
Emma Horspool and her team from Market Harborough Helping Refugees

Rebecca & Adam Spilane and their entire team of LE Solidarity.

Richard Humphry and everyone at HIS Church

AND

A Special Thanks to Amy Sunshine, Steve Cook and the entire team of Derby Refugee Solidarity. Not only did they provide us with their premises for loading of the container at short notice, helped fill the container with aid until it was completely full, they came together with a big team of friendly people to help us load.

I am so overwhelmed by everyone who helped prepare this container of aid and I am so thankful and grateful to see the immense love and care we have not only for those in camps but each other, volunteers, some of who we have never met before.

Thank you to all the supporters, helpers and donors of Refugee Biriyani & Bananas.

It was long day and some of us spent many many hours driving, transporting and loading.

To be able to send a 40ft container of food and winter aid in collaboration with so many groups and individuals is a miracle in itself just like the beautiful rainbow which was in the sky just as we finished.

TO ALL OUR BROTHERS & SISTERS IN CAMP

LOTS OF LOVE FROM ENGLAND.

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Many hands make light, lovely work

So, the "Packs for Calais" that were bought and started by a fantastic NCS team were finished off yesterday by an equally fantastic DRS team then collected by the fantastic Lesley Browne who took them to Sheffield from where they will set off to Calais on Saturday with lots of other aid. Fantastic people working together for a common goal. Is there any better antidote to all the negativity in the world???

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Lorry full of aid arrives in Paris!

Last Friday, DRS volunteers helped to fill a lorry with aid going to Paris. Here is Heather, with Paris Refugee Ground Support on its arrival.

Heather Young· Paris, France

“Last weekend something incredible happened!
Rebecca and Adam Spilane from LE Solidarity brought a humongous lorry all the way from Leicester to Paris. 
In this lorry, provided by the Ace Alltruck2, was the vital aid collected from festival salvages. The wonderful stuff collected by Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity. The wicked amount of sleeping bags collectively bought by Side by Side : Humanitarian Aid to RefugeesHerts For RefugeesPeople in Motion,Hastings Solidarity from the lovely Dean Erdélyi-Betts at Ethical Festival Ltd.

The collecting, sorting, packing, loading, coordination, logistics and love, sweat and tears that went into this fantastic effort is astounding!!!!!!!

These are everyday people pulling off extraordinary things seamlessly.

You are immensely wonderful people!!!!
Thank you to every last one of you that had your helping hand in this wickedass-monumental delivery.

♡♡♡Becky and Adam are splendiverous!!♡”

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Bon Voyage

At about 9 a.m this morning a team of DRS volunteers waved goodbye to Rebecca and Adam from Leicester as they set off on their journey to Paris. Tents and sleeping bags salvaged from festivals, clothes and blankets and food thanks to YOUR generosity were loaded into a lorry on a bright and blustery September morning

Massive thanks to https://www.lesolidarity.co.uk/

And to our members and supporters thank you soooooooo much!!!

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World Kid Lit Challenge Day 17

Wonderful DRS volunteer Claire’s fascinating website includes reviews of children’s books such as “Tomorrow” by Nadeen Kaadan, which deals with many of the issues faced by refugees fleeing their homes..

“This book tells the story of Yazan who can no longer go to the park. He no longer goes to school. He even starts to miss it “which was a surprise”. It’s too dangerous to be outside and Yazan’s mother has become so preoccupied she doesn’t even paint anymore. But Yazan’s concerns aren’t about the news; he wants to go to the park. One day, Yazan decides he’s going to the park, takes his red bike and leaves the house alone. Everything is different to how it used to be. I won’t spoil the ending, but needless to say, he makes it home again safely. “

For more details of this and other books please visit:

https://clairestoreylanguages.co.uk/2018/09/17/world-kid-lit-challenge-day-16/

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A new Cultural Centre of Derby?

Is it just me or do you think we're all getting a bit posher now we have a new home? Here's Ali "call me Mozart", Muyash, "call me Shakespeare" and Amy, "call me errrrrrm, a poser?"

Thanks to everyone who volunteered and/or donated today, especially Sarah Farrell from Woodland Beasties, Di Moor from Wirksworth Women's Union and Amanda from Derby Contact Centre. We are soooo grateful for your kindness!

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