Unaccompanied children have witnessed some of the worst atrocities and even after reaching safety, they are still one of the most vulnerable groups of people in refugee camps, facing a much higher risk for exploitation and human trafficking. For many, the small act of providing them with clean, dry underwear can help protect them against infections, provide a small amount of comfort and dignity, while also helping to protect against sexual assault.
Leticia Reyes, Co-Founder of 109 World shares her discovery of happiness in helping others through the various mission trips she has been a part of. "Happiness will never be a final state that we can acquire and take possession of once and for all. It is an activity, something that is built and cultivated, always demanding commitment and love."
One of the reasons why we love the work of the Unmentionables is because they are taking a smart approach to refugee aid. Their human-centered approach to identifying preferences of the communities they work with ensures that what’s purchased is what will be used by the refugees themselves. They partner with local suppliers to have hygiene supplies delivered directly to refugees, which invests in and grows the local economy. And most importantly, dignity is at the core of everything they do.
Despite increased attention to violence enacted on female populations in conflict-affected environments like South Sudan, little awareness is brought to the fact that sexual and gender-based violence reflect everyday forms of sexualized and gendered violence. Women in camps for the internally displaced are even more vulnerable, with their protection intimately linked to their access to resources and support.
When you add chaos, dissolution of family and society, poverty, vulnerability, and conflict migration- the rate of STI’s only skyrocket. Incidences of rape, sex trafficking, as well as lack of medical services and education play key roles in the spread of STI’s in refugee camps.
The centre of Athens is no longer the Acropolis, it is not an absence, but an overt presence that is at its core, a community who have come and cannot be ignored. They're not here to climb up a hill and look at what used to be there, but to walk forward on a road, in the hopes of creating something new. Unlike the Parthenon marbles, they've been left in Greece, and it is unclear as to when they will have the choice to not be. Until then, the rest of us must offer what we can to help them. Two hearts are better than one. The path is bolstered, and beaten, by love.
The displaced community in Greece contains multitudes, and no single descriptor is able to explain the manifold of its experiences. By conducting a needs assessment, The Unmentionables resists a presumption of needs that would be as limiting as calling its members by any single name.It doesn’t assume. It does the decent thing. It asks.
The moment that the phrase ‘The Unmentionables’ popped into the conversation, was for me, a real light bulb moment in terms of conceptualising exactly what we wanted to do. It clearly defined the focus and mission we would move forward with when turning this idea into a non-profit organisation that meets these very intimate needs for refugees globally.
There are many systematic problems related to border boundary lines, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have many solutions to address them.
My grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer but when I told him about 'The Unmentionables' he jumped at every change to encourage me to do this essential and innovative work and provide these unmentionable items not only to Syrian refugees, but to refugee populations globally.