Success, After Success

It’s been an amazing month. Filled with amazing people and amazing work. And I have so much to tell you all, and I could drag on forever, so I will try and keep it short.

Last month in my short trip to England, I was invited to the small town of Thame to give as speech. I was there to talk for Bread and Roses for Refugees – Thame. They are an amazing team of people who if you remember donated the amazing notebooks with messages in them from their children to the Syrians in our school here in İzmir, Turkey.

I was lead into a small pub and into their events room. Where a few rows of chairs were laid out across the wooden paneled floorboards. I was introduced to the team who I had long awaited to meet. I was brought to the front where I was expecting to talk to a few keen neighbours. My laptop was balanced on a bar stool barely plugged into the project a few feet above it. I was running the talk through my head as people began to come in and find their seats. And then they kept coming.

More rows were added and added again. Until people were left standing at the back. The room had an amazing energy brought by the humble community of Thame, who had decided to come and listen to my small story. A passionate audience who nodded in appreciation sighed in disappointment, cried in sadness and smiled in happiness. An audience of people truly “there”. Some of them already involved in humanitarian aid, but others were there to open their ears and listen to something they may have done before. You’d be surprised how much of a difference that can make. I know at least a few people went away changed that night, as the bartender told me as I left “I thought I was coming to a regular night at work, but I was treated to something very different.”

I was kindly invited to Vanessa Feltz’s BBC Radio London show to talk about my experiences over the last year. I told my story that started all the way back in November of last year, and how my choices had lead me to France with CalAid, and Greece with Dråpen i Havet, to Turkey, to Izmir and then to Refugee Volunteers of Izmir (ReVi). To talk about all the amazing people I have met and worked with. To try and help people to get a grasp on this seemingly insurmountable problem that can be solved, one small action at a time. To explain when asked what m parents thought about me and the ‘dangerous’ work I do, I use the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Don’t worry about your children; they are going to be alright. Don’t hold them back, for they are not only doing a job for themselves, but for all of Mankind.”

I was also introduced to a group called The Goodall Foundation by Mark Jarman. Another amazing bunch of people looking to help fund those projects that are trying to fill the gaps in societal support. In their own words they “We support individuals on their journey to becoming independent in order to live a flourishing and fulfilled life”. They have helped schooling and tutoring programs in the UK, Tanzania and India. I was there to tell them about our new project at ReVi; Micro-financing businesses for our families. An idea that we have realised to be the next natural step in helping our families here in starting to take control of their own lives again. They loved what we were doing, and agreed to help fund our projects and help build that starting platform to help them get back on their feet. A project that I look forward to telling you about in my next post.

Last week we also said goodbye to the man who started it all, Felipe Coimbra. 10 months ago I arrived at my first meeting in Izmir in the living room of one of our volunteers and met him for the first time. I have seen ReVi grow so much since then, from a few people taking food up the hill into a flourishing community of people from all backgrounds coming together to do everything they can, to open schools, start knitting projects, language lessons, hospital translation, family aid and just plain being kind. He will return in April, but until then we will continue to grow, build and be the hand that is there for the other hand that is reaching out for help.

I hope that catches many of you up to speed. It’s been a busy few weeks, but now that we’re all comfortable in our new roles, there will be many more stories to come. It’s about to get even busier, yet exciting time.

It may be stormy and rainy in Izmir, but the future looks bright for us and the ReVi family.

One Response to “Success, After Success

  • nick theobald
    6 years ago

    Continually inspiring and selfless, Ben. Thank you.

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