The “Barcelona, Refuge City” plan mail box received over a thousand messages from people offering to collaborate in the first five hours after it went online, on 4 September 2015. Ten days later more than 2,500 had been received. And they are still arriving.
These are extracts from some of the emails that we have received. Where the literal text has not been respected, it is indicated with (...). They have all been translated into a single language and any references to names, surnames, email addresses or telephone numbers have been deleted for data protection purposes.
“Good morning, I'd like to be able to help the refugees that are arriving. I'm a mother with two children and my house isn't very big (I've only got two bedrooms) but my husband and I are both available to help in any way that's needed. I'm a nurse and my husband is an engineer. Please contact me when you need to.
Thanks for taking this initiative, we don't want to see any more deaths. We've got to act now.”
“I'm Argentinian but I've lived in Barcelona for 14 years. I'm married with two girls, aged seven and three. My grandfather was Syrian. When he was six he escaped from the war on a boat. He was on his own, without his family and, in his misfortune, he was lucky enough to reach land safely and live his life.
The story of these people fleeing like my grandfather has touched me deeply and I feel a great need to help. I'm 39 and not working at the moment, which makes it difficult for me to help financially, but what I can do is offer my services as a pastry cook, cook and seamstress, plus all the warmth and affection of my family (...).”
“I'm a nurse from Barcelona. I've read the press note on Facebook about the refuge city idea and I'd be interested in helping as a volunteer in this initiative.
I'm not free every day because I have to work, but I'd like to help all those I can. I can't believe what's happening and I think we all have to give a hand because this situation is intolerable.”
“I'm a doctor with training in care and also in body techniques for managing grief. I have experience in attending to displaced people in my country, Colombia.
Whatever way I might be useful.”
“Right now I'm unemployed and pregnant. I don't have a place to offer where they can stay but I do have one thing which I think is very valuable, time. I'd like to help any way I can, even though I live in Sabadell.
I feel incredibly powerless every day because I don't know how to help. My niece is in tears asking why nobody helps these people who are afraid. If only I had the necessary resources. If you need anything, you've got a volunteer here.”
“We've read about the initiative Barcelona City Council has launched to take in Syrian refugees and we'd like to know if we could help, even though we don't live in the city but in a village. We are a mixed, Arab-Spanish family and we think we could be of help (…), as we share a culture, religion and language.”
“I'm a teacher and there are several of us from different schools who feel a duty to collaborate any way we can with the #ciudadesrefugio initiative (...).
We've thought about:
- Working on the educational side in class.
- Building bridges with organisations for volunteering by pupils and teachers (...).
We are at your service for exploring ways to collaborate.”
“My sons and I are Uruguayans and we became refugees at the time of Pinochet's coup in Chile, where we had arrived after fleeing repression in our country (...). We know only too well how it feels when you see a war machine coming your way. And all three of us were struck by the same thought: this could have happened to us if the "international community" had been acting then as it is now. We probably wouldn't be here.
So, I think Barcelona City Council's initiative deserves out support. For logistical reasons, I can't offer accommodation, but I am offering to collaborate in things. I'm 76, retired and a nutritionist. I've been in Barcelona since 1977, when I arrived from Sweden, where we were refugees from Chile.”
“I'm writing to express my solidarity with the refugees from Syria (…). I stopped watching the images that appear on TV some time ago. I cover my eyes because I find it too much for me. I want to collaborate with the refugees (...), they won't go short of food, affection, clothes, hygiene, but, above all, understanding.”
“First, I would like to congratulate you on this magnificent initiative. Though it hurts me, my circumstances will not allow me to take in these poor people, who are only doing what they can to escape from hell, just as many of our ancestors did. Anyway, I'm writing because I'd like to know how I could collaborate in integrating, supporting or educating them, etc. (…). I'm 29, I speak English, I'm sociable, I can do whatever is needed and I understand people from other countries because I have lots of friends on both sides (…). I'm confident that, between us all, we can demonstrate something as simple as the fact we are all people and the human spirit is not lost. I'm at your service.”
“I'm Greek and a photographer by profession, and I work in Barcelona. I was in Syria five months ago and visited the city of Kobani, and I would like to help these people. I need to know how I can take part.”