These Refugees Created Their Own Aid Agency Within Their Resettlement Camp

Michael Thomas at FastCompany: “…“In the refugee camps, we have two things: people and time,” Jackl explained. He and his friends decided that they would organize people to improve the camp. The idea was to solve two problems at once: Give refugees purpose, and make life in the camp better for everyone….

It began with repurposing shipping material. The men noticed that every day, dozens of shipments of food, medicine, and other aid came to their camp. But once the supplies were unloaded, aid workers would throw the pallets away. Meanwhile, people were sleeping in tents that would flood when it rained. So Jackl led an effort to break the pallets down and use the wood to create platforms on which the tents could sit.

Shortly afterwards, they used scrap wood and torn pieces of fabric to build a school, and eventually found a refugee who was a teacher to lead classes. The philosophy was simple and powerful: Use resources that would otherwise go to waste to improve life in their camp. As word spread of their work on social media, Jackl began to receive offers from people who wanted to donate money to his then unofficial cause. “All these people began asking me ‘What can I do? Can I give you money?’ And I’d tell them, ‘Give me materials,’” he said.

“People think that refugees are weak. But they survived war, smugglers, and the camps,” Jackl explains. His mission is to change the refugee image from one of weakness to one of resilience and strength. Core to that is the idea that refugees can help one another instead of relying on aid workers and NGOs, a philosophy that he adopted from an NGO called Jafra that he worked for in Syria…(More)”