Our core activities focus on providing enrichment programs, training and dignified employment opportunities to forcibly displaced people in order to promote livelihood development and catalyze economic, social and spiritual transformation in their communities.
As we endeavor to break the isolation of our displaced friends, we spend time with them through regular visits to their homes, engagement in the community and advocating for them with local officials and national neighbors.
In executing our mission, we work with international NGO’s, churches and private individuals, and seek every opportunity to engage and serve alongside host nation communities.
Spain, has long stood as the gateway to Europe for travelers and migrants alike. In 2017, almost 30,000 forcibly displaced people traveled over land and sea into the country, a threefold increase over the previous two years. While the influx of people into some other European nations is decreasing, the numbers entering Spain continue to rise. Known today as the “Western Mediterranean Route” it is a key entry portal into Europe for forcibly displaced people seeking refuge and asylum from persecution in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
Most forcibly displaced people entering Spain are seeking to pass through into safe-haven countries such as Germany and Sweden. Unfortunately, the inundation of refugees into these countries over the past two years has resulted in challenging conditions, and people are finding that sufficient resources are not available to meet the demand. As a result, more and more refugees are choosing to remain in Spain.
Recognizing the increasing role of Spain in the refugee crisis, IAFR desires to position teams in the country to address the concerns of those seeking refuge. Large cities such as Madrid, provide more services and opportunities than other areas. We are working to establish Madrid as a "hub" of operations for our team as we encounter refugees and join them in their journey to regain a sense of “place" in the world, and rebuild lives of dignity, worth and purpose.
Click to learn more: UN Portal - Spain
Life for forcibly displaced people is tremendously difficult. People who once worked as farmers, teachers, mechanics and doctors, now struggle to meet their most basic needs of food, water, shelter and clothing.
We engage in activities that seek to help these people increase their capacity to acquire the necessities of life for themselves and their household on a sustainable basis with dignity. We call this Livelihood Development, and our work extends into the realms of education, training and providing opportunity for employment.
One of our most recent projects was the development of a community aquaponics farming facility aimed at providing entrepreneur training, employment and food for several refugee families. This non-traditional form of agriculture combines the separate disciplines of hydroponics and aquaculture to produce very high quality fish and produce. The project has been quite successful, and we hope that it can serve as a blueprint for new initiatives across Western Asia, Africa and anywhere else traditional agriculture methods fall short, and where forcibly displaced people need jobs and healthy food.
Looking ahead we seek to find other ways to facilitate livelihood development in refugee communities. We are developing programs that will provide entrepreneur training and start-up resources for refugees willing to start their own business. Education is a huge need to ensure the future of refugee communities, and so we are seeking opportunities to partner with community care centers to provide support in areas such as language acquisition and cultural orientation. Underscoring all of this is advocacy for refugees within Spanish communities and the government. We want to help address the cultural and legal challenges that hinder people along the pathway to education, employment and resettlement.
Women are often the unsung heroes of the refugee crisis. Their role in caring for their families and communities is a vital part of maintaining normalcy when the world is falling down around you. Sadly, forcibly displaced women often suffer greatly, living lives marked by physical abuse, loss of dignity and absence of a sense of self-worth.
We are working to change that, and help restore women to a place where they are loved, their voice is heard and they have a full understanding of how much their life matters.
Our most recent project is called My Ethnic Table, and is a project designed to engage women where they spend the majority of their day… the kitchen.
Regardless of the culture, the dinner table is a place for family, fellowship and most of all, great food. Everyone knows that food is the heartbeat of culture, and whenever we meet people along the Refugee Highway one of the first things we do together is eat.
The goal of the project is to provide an opportunity for the world and refugees to connect with each other through the medium of food. We spend time with women, hearing their stories and learning to prepare cuisine unique to their homeland. Those encounters are captured in writing and photos, which we produce into publications that elevate the status of refugee women by sharing their heart stories and cooking secrets with home chefs around the world.
In addition to this project, we are also seeking opportunities to serve women by partnering with community care centers to provide personal enrichment programs such as art classes, cooking programs and exposure to fun and fulfilling activities.
Refugee women have a voice, and it comes through loud and clear in the amazing cuisine they create. We can’t wait to share those messages with the world.
All photos on this website by IAFR.