Wednesday, February 10, 2016

To My Friends, Family and Followers



I wish I could read minds right now. I want to know exactly what you think when I mention the word refugee. I want to know what you think when you hear (or have already heard) that there were 1.1 million refugees who entered Germany last year. Where does your mind go when you know/hear/read there might be members of ISIS hidden among them?

What do you have to say when I tell you that the very majority of them are just regular people...people like you and people like me?



I don't generally write with a purpose in mind. I suppose I do subconsciously, but today I would really like to inform you of a few things that you may not know.

1. On average, a refugee in Germany receives €500 euro's a month in benefits.
2. The cost of living is higher in Germany than it is in middle-eastern countries.
3. Many refugees want to leave because of the harsh realities that face them  here: living conditions, lack of job opportunity, and treatment from immigration offices, among other things.

I believe it!

We had an awesome opportunity to visit a couple of shelters a few weekends ago with a group of amazing people. 2 women I had never met in person organized a Caravan of Compassion for the community here at and around USAG Bavaria. It was a huge success. PLEASE visit Betsy's post about our experience. There are some great pictures and information there.

The people we went with (and took items in behalf of) were SO generous!  I wish I could have recorded the whole thing but what I felt was way different then what I physically experienced.

At the first shelter, a men's shelter, we dropped off warm blankets, shoes and other hygeine supplies to aid in the what once was lack of heat in the shelter, their long walk to a place with accessibility to a kitchen (2 km) and cold weather. I was completely overwhelmed when I stepped inside. This building used to be a school and in the gym were cots lining the walls, and the center of the floor. Their belongings were all within a few square feet of them. Their jackets (if they had them) hung on the walls. Otherwise, there wasn't much else there except men with a longing in their heart I'm sure, for something better than this.


We each passed out blankets and shampoo and shoes to the men who were there. They loved the kids and smiled big every time we approached. They especially loved Nevie's blonde hair.

Next we went to the family shelter housed in an old school as well. We were one of the first families to arrive and because we were, we had a few moments to spend with some of the families. There was a particular family I attached myself to. It was a family of 6. One of their teenage sons was particularly friendly. He even spoke pretty good English! He was more than helpful with getting stuff out of the cars and helping other people find what they needed. The littlest of the family (2 years old) was super cute. He kept giving Nevie kisses on her arm.

 We had planned on spending most of our time there but because of the lack of communication among guards, we were unable to go inside. So we made do! We set up our mini-shopping mall in the courtyard of this building. There was so much stuff. More than enough to fill a Goodwill. People brought suitcases, and toys, new clothes and coats, shoes,  hygeine supplies (good brands) and baked goods.

It was amazing watching how humble these people were. I've heard stories of refugees that would say otherwise but what I witnessed was nothing short of amazing. Towards the end we were pushing empty bags onto the families telling them to take more. A lot of them were surprised. I also realize that what they own has to be confined to a small space. Have you ever considered what that would be like? Packing your entire life up in a suitcase?

We had an opportunity to visit with these people and that's what I wish I had more of: time. Time to hear more stories. Time to get to know these people. Just one of the boys there witnessed his family burned inside of his home at age 12. He was able escape with burns covering the middle section of his body. He has scars to prove it. He waited until he was old enough to come to Germany where he currently resides, less than a mile from me.

It's stories like these, and many others that make me want to do more. However, I can't do it alone. I'm reaching out and asking you for help. I'm asking you to consider what you have and if there's anything you can part with. I've listed a few of the things they are in need of currently:

Shoes
Shampoo
Hygiene Items (shampoo, conditioner, pads, razors, etc)
Diapers/Wipes (at the shelter we went to, they are rationed. They receive 4 diapers a day)
Old cell phones
Toys/Games
Suitcases/Bags
Other comfort items one might want/need

Consider donating cash if you live far and we will shop in behalf of you. The thing is, this is a great opportunity for you to get really involved in the refugee situation because I live right here. Right among the news story you see on TV. I'd be glad to be your proxy and serve those who so desperately need it. I'm telling you, nothing changes you like seeing adults and children walking around outside in flip flops and short sleeve shirts.

I appreciate each and every one of you. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the community I live in. For our outing on Saturday, I had 4 friends (1 person I had never met) donate items to me. My trunk was packed full of stuff and I came home with just as much excess. SO! I'd really like to another Caravan. My friends and I have already discussed doing another similar type event. Just as one of our coordinators said, the 2 shelters we visited were 2 of 1000 in that area alone (Nuremberg). So if you want to get involved please send donations to:

Lisa Nickle
CMR 415 BOX 6880
APO, AE 09114

(It's a US Post Office so there isn't any additional charges for sending overseas. In fact, there's a discount)

OR you can PayPal me a cash donation. Please make sure to include a short message noting it's for the Caravan of Compassion.

Also, Betsy wrote another post before the caravan which is still relevant and very informative. You can find that here

Thank you again for reading this far! Sending you so much love!

P.S. That boy in the picture with Jackson was so super wonderful. He was so busy helping other people he forgot to get shoes for himself. The ones he is wearing in the picture are way too big for him. We searched high and low for some that fit and found a pair that semi-worked. I'd love to buy him a new pair of shoes. Will you help? :-)

Source:
Wall Street Journal

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