When We Band Together’s mission is to improve the lives of child refugees. We launched in 2016, selling bracelets made of the life vests worn by refugees to buy emergency aid. We are now focused on creating safe and nurturing places for child refugees. The name Zoë Bands was created by our Greek partners. "Zoë" means "Life" in Greek, and we are recycling life vests to improve the lives of children displaced by conflict. We're on a mission to restore purpose, happiness and normalcy within refugee camps - one camp at a time.
Current Goals of WWBT
Context is important when we talk about our goals.
The global refugee crisis is reaching levels not seen since World War II - there are currently 70 million+ people displaced globally, half of them children.
To oversimplify, refugees need three things:
- Safe passage as they flee to safety
- Humane and dignified conditions along their journey, and eventually
- Resettlement and asylum so they can begin their new lives.
Unfortunately, the world is falling short of that obligation.
After a wave of elections that saw nationalists rise to power, governments across the world have chosen to make border crossings dangerous and camp conditions awful, in an attempt to slow the flow of refugees. This has left the responsibility for the well-being and humane treatment of refugees in the hands of nonprofits, and individuals. It also means that there is advocacy work to be done to reverse the political tide.
Narrowing our focus to Lesvos, Greece, the Moria refugee camp has been called the world’s worst refugee camp by the BBC. As of December 2018, there are 18,000+ people stuck at Moria, which has a maximum capacity of 2,500. This has left many folks exposed to the elements. Many people in Moria are sleeping 10 to a tent.
So what are When We Band Together’s goals within that context?
We use our donations, and all profit generated through item sales and retreats, to fund programs that make daily life easier and more safe for refugees - especially the most vulnerable among them.
The focus of last year’s funding was on the creation and stabilization of the Hope and Peace Center - a safe space for women and children. It has a school, soccer field, giant sandbox, women’s center, theatre, bounce houses, jungle gyms and more.
It importantly doubles as a food and clothing distribution center as well an emergency shelter on cold and rainy nights. We were able to install heaters last month to make sure we can keep folks warm.
If we are able to fully fund the center, we will find other programs that improve daily life. We try to buy and manufacture locally when possible to support the host community, who is facing an incredible economic crisis themselves.
The refugee crisis is under reported. By making some of our products out of life vests worn by refugees, and all of our products with our signature orange color, we hope to catalyze conversations. We also hope to partner with orgs that have broader reach than our own, like Favored Nations, and provide them whatever they need to be strong advocates.
Refugees need more influential people fighting for them. Through our retreats, we hoped to bring groups of influential folks into close proximity with the refugee crisis so they can build friendships with impacted people, understand the issue, and take this on as their fight.
As of now, all profit and 100% of donations go to Team Humanity, our on-the-ground partner that operates the Hope and Peace Center. Team Humanity uses the funds for rent, electricity and, if there is extra, improvements to the Center. WWBT funds do not go towards administrative costs.
Refugees are war victims who had to make the unimaginable choice of leaving their home country and setting off towards a dangerous, unknown future.
It is not only mandated by international law to provide assistance to refugees, it is our obligation and responsibility as fellow human beings.
During these chaotic political times, it is paramount we band together to help the most vulnerable among us, lead with love, and remind each other that we have enough for everyone to be safe and flourish.