Christmas came early to a number of families in the Jungle refugee camp outside of Calais, France! Volunteers from all over the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium brought Christmas shoe boxes, music, food, and celebration to those who are struggling through the damp cold, mud, and rough living conditions. Many of these families have been in the camp for months as they wait for either the French or British government to make a decision on their refugee status, and welcomed the distraction from their troubles. 170 shoe boxes were distributed to children in the camp, and over 1,000 people were fed over the course of the afternoon in the church area as multiple singing groups performed in the Arabic, English, and Ethiopian languages. This celebration is a continuation of Convoy of Hope Europe’s commitment to bringing Hope to the refugees. Over the last few months, our construction teams have built shelters from the weather, distributed 100 butane stoves for cooking, thousands of rain ponchos, and provided laundry services to the community in the Jungle. As long as the Refugee Crisis continues, Convoy of Hope Europe will be taking steps to bring physical, social, and spiritual help to affected families.
There are few countries as intimidating as Russia. A population of 142 million people from 190 ethnic groups spread across the largest country on the planet, covering 11 time zones. Politically, they’re strong and not afraid to flex their muscles. Economically, they are struggling to survive after crippling sanctions were levied against the country in 2014 due to the annexation of Crimea. Because of these sanctions, humanitarian organizations are struggling to find ways to help. All outside humanitarian aid is stopped and burned, buried, or otherwise destroyed at the borders. Many international humanitarian organizations in the country have been kicked out. In the meantime, the continuing sanctions make life more difficult by the day for the average Russian. WHAT CAN BE DONE? Convoy of Hope Europe believes that since outside humanitarian aid is not allowed, we would support local organizations in reaching out to their communities. Investing in these organizations establishes a reputation for generosity in the community, but also helps the local economy from whom the food and resources are purchased. The first event took place in the beginning of November. 1,300 people were reached over three days of coordinated efforts by teams on the ground. The next event will be held in December, an event targeted towards 1,600 young adults in the very heart of Russia. Additional events in different parts of Russia are scheduled for the Summer of 2016. If you would like to be involved, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Northern Ireland is an area not unfamiliar with conflict. The political debate from those who support an independent Ireland pitted against those still loyal to the British crown tore the country apart over the last century, especially over the last four decades. One of the hotbeds of conflict was the city of Derry/Londonderry. A small city of around 107,000 people gained a big reputation when, in January of 1972, they were catapulted into international headlines because of a clash known as “Bloody Sunday”. Fourteen people were killed, and more were wounded in a confrontation between protesters and British soldiers. The lines were clearly drawn, and an entire generation was raised under this cloud of infamy. Though relations have been thawing slowly in subsequent decades, one church in the city is determined to step in and make a difference. Five years ago, Cornerstone City Church began a summer youth outreach that has since grown into a large, targeted effort to love on their community. They call it IHeartDerry and they are making an impact. Their Pastor, Brian Somerville, calls it a “Kiss and Tell” strategy. If an environment dictates behavior, Cornerstone wants to improve the environment. They want to invest in the latent value and life of the city, and show the people around them how to love where they live. Partnered with Convoy of Hope Europe, the primary objective of iHeartDerry is to show love regardless of political or religious affiliation. Over one hundred volunteers traveled from the U.S. and Europe last year to join with church members in this effort to create unity out of the divided. Three teams went into different schools, hosting a “SuperSchool” for hundreds of elementary students. A team of “Mobile Medics” performed basic checkups for people who might not have the resources to see a doctor on their own. Cornerstone also built a playground for neighborhood kids, and hosted a soccer tournament in which 16 local clubs participated. This year, in 2015, they plan to expand even further to include local businesses, performing minor repairs and assistance where they can. These activities are the “Kiss” part of Pastor Brian's strategy. The “Tell” part follows, because people invariably ask “Why?” Why spend the money, why spend the time? The answer is that Cornerstone and Convoy of Hope Europe are working to bring unity to a community only familiar with conflict. It's part of reaching Europe physically, socially, and spiritually. The goal is to bring unity to the divided, love and advocacy to the forgotten, service and hope to the broken. iHeart Derry 2015 will take place 06-12 July. Convoy of Hope Europe has teams from the United States signed up to help out before, during, and after the event. It promises to be another resounding success, and we are so excited to be a part!
From September 1st - 7th, 2014, a team from Lifehouse Church, Hagerstown, Maryland, USA joined us once again in Shkoder, Albania. Lifehouse has been investing in the community of Shkoder the last few years and this time assisted with distributing two hundred 25lb bags of clothing in Rrasek and Mes, two villages in the Postriba area. Together with Albanian doctors and medical students, we also served one hundred people with free medical checkups in two Roma settlements. At the end of the week, our team participated in the "One Day for our City" community event in the center of Shkoder. Open to the public, this free event welcomed 2,500 guests with live entertainment, games, bouncy castles, free food, literature, and a medical tent where hundreds received free checkups. "The city was different today,” said Dennis, one of our volunteers. “There was something for everyone and it was completely free! You don't see that in Shkoder.” We hope to see the positive differences continue to grow in Shkoder thanks to the investment of Lifehouse Church and the many others who have worked to see change in this community. To donate to this project, click here.
From August 6-12, 2014, a team from Cornerstone Church of Bowie, Maryland, USA, was hosted by Easterhouse Community Church in our adopted community of Easterhouse, Scotland. Cornerstone Church recently completed an Adopt-A-Community project with Convoy of Hope Europe in the town of Glinjeni, Moldova. After spending three years investing in this project, they continued their support of our work by sending a team of youth and young adults to help in the preparations for the annual Arise Easterhouse Gala near Glasgow, Scotland. In the week leading up to the gala, with members of Cornerstone, we spent the week painting the building facility of Easterhouse Community Church (ECC). This building also houses Job Club, which is a program launched by ECC to provide assistance to the long-term unemployed. We also interacted in the community, handed out food and treats, and helped with promotion of the upcoming event. On Saturday, August 9, Arise Easterhouse, hosted by ECC, took place outside of Shandwick Shopping Centre. Arise is a family festival open to the public that takes place each summer to bring life to and encourage unity in the community of Easterhouse. With free food, bouncy castles, games, and live entertainment, it is a treat for all ages. This year, we received and served over 2,300 guests of honor. Thank you to Cornerstone Church for your generosity in serving this project. And thank you to Easterhouse Community Church for your continual investment in your community and your desire to show compassion and care to those in need around you. To donate to this project, click here.