Refugee4Refugee founder Omar Alshakal sought to create a non-political organisation that addresses the needs and concerns of refugees, while also encouraging fellow asylum seekers to get involved and take the lead in relief efforts.
Omar is a Syrian refugee and brings a unique perspective as someone who arrived in Europe in 2014, after swimming for 14 hours from Turkey to Greece. He has seen the weaknesses of the asylum process first hand. Omar started the charity to tackle these challenges head on. As a former lifeguard, he saw an opportunity to improve boat spotting and landing support. Refugee4Refugees then transports arrivals to a temporary camp where people can receive food, water, clothing, shoes, medical attention and sleep.
I had a great experience with R4R. The organization focuses its efforts on providing food in a transitory camp in Skala Sikamineas, where boats arrive regularly. They have clean and comfortable accommodation for 10€ a night, which is cheap for northern Lesvos. Landings are well organized. Working with R4R means mostly to attend landings and help the people coming off boats, cooking and distributing food at the camp. I learned a lot from this experience and strongly recommend volunteering with them. It is a good work rhythm and experience. People in Skala are welcoming. You quickly become attached to this place and the passionate volunteers and coordinators of R4R. It is a small non-profit, so you feel you have a direct impact.