During this holiday season, what is better than giving a gift to your friends, colleagues and loved ones that enable someone from our community to do sport and build community amongst others?!
This holiday season, in the lead up to celebrations such as Christmas and the New Year, YSR is collecting the much-needed everyday items that can allow community members to join classes, have fun, learn skills and foster a sense of community and connection amongst others.
Do you have friends who you struggle to buy for? Are there family members who have nothing that they need? Parents or siblings who buy themselves everything? Are you worried about showing up to a dinner empty handed? Or perhaps you’d like to find a gift idea that doesn’t get added to the back of the cupboard, but can really impact those who receive it? Would you consider buying a gift for a friend or family member that can help our community, such as a basketball, t-shirt, boxing gloves, shoes or even a mattress, that will be used more than you can imagine in our busy gyms?
While it’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness, it can be transformed into a thoughtful way to bring others the opportunity to incorporate the joy of a sports community into the tediousness of camp life.
Our unique gifts mean you can be part of the reason classes continue to run, and participants are dressed to enjoy these moments to the fullest. You will also receive a beautiful e-card for your donation (preview below), which you can personalise, print and pass on with the all-important Holiday cards.
Imagine you need to flee your home because you are in danger: you are packing your bag to cross deserts and mountain trails by foot, then a boat that takes you across the Mediterranean. Will you have the luxury or space to bring your extra set of sport clothes? Would you prioritise the important family photos or your running shoes? What about the large padded boxing gloves? These are the dilemmas people on the move are faced with when leaving their homes. Many come to countries with minimal personal belongings, not with the necessary items to sport, but with only the things they need to survive and keep moving.
When people on the move finally arrive at their destination to claim asylum, it doesn’t get easier.
Many are put in crowded camps, with few spaces to socialise, exercise, or merely rest. To add to that, the political situation is still changing. Attention has shifted to the many people in need in Ukraine (something we completely support!). Further, camps on various Greek islands have become more prison-like, controlled and restrictive, with refugees continually being treated like criminals, detained for not having papers, or even pushed back into open sea with unsafe vessels.
But why support Yoga and Sport with Refugees’ Give the Gift of Sport Campaign?
Yoga and Sport with Refugees was created five years ago in Lesvos, the home island of the infamous camp Moria, to provide a space where refugees could work on their physical and mental wellbeing, as well as build communities centred around sport. Our teachers directly support around 400 refugees per day, giving them the opportunity to work out, forget about their problems and share a good moment together. Our collaborative and bottom-up decision making structure, whereby teachers from refugee backgrounds themselves guide and direct YSR programs, attempts to ensure that YSR provides genuinely sustainable development for its community. This means that not only do we provide a space to feel included and away from a dehumanising camp environment, athletes and teachers are also able to grow, integrate, and build skills and networks to help them find their footing in a foreign society. We recently expanded from Lesvos to Athens, Ioannina and Paris and, as always, rely on private financial and material donations to keep projects running.
Given this panorama, contributions from individual donors are increasingly important!
(Special thank you to photographers, Giulio Piscitelli and Jon Garage Ondarre, for these photographs).