At Hyperbiotics, we strive to surround ourselves with people who make a habit out of changing the world every day.
Enter hero and humanitarian Felipe Coimbra.
He went from traveling the world with his cat to helping refugee children and families living on the streets of Izmir, Turkey. Here’s what Felipe is doing to mobilize support and inspire hope (and how you can help him).
Deciding to Move a Mountain
Like many of us, Felipe Coimbra watched in utter astonishment as the former residents of war-torn Syria traversed land and sea, seeking refuge despite maddening hurdles that—even now—leave them essentially homeless, struggling to rebuild their lives.
In Izmir especially, the plight of the men, women, and children fleeing war is noticeably grim. Waves of families forced from their homes regularly wash into the Aegean city with nowhere to go—leaving parents without work, their children without school, and many without enough to eat or a safe place to sleep.
As this sweeping humanitarian crisis steadily unfolded before him, Felipe had one thought on his mind: someone should do something.
Leveraging his location independent lifestyle and talent for motivating others to take action on issues they care about, he decided that someone could be him.
One month later, Felipe set off to the port city of Izmir where he started a lean and mighty organization called the Refugee Volunteers of Izmir (ReVi) and began bringing hope to those who needed it most.
Changing the Lives of More Than 600 Children in Turkey
Beset with determination and armed with hope, the volunteers at ReVi offer a wide range of support services such as helping families obtain materials to start their own micro-businesses, renting spaces for schools (where needed), offering arts & crafts activities for children, and hosting family dinners.
“We visit families every week,” said Felipe when I asked him about the day-to-day in Izmir. “Every time we ask the families what they need, they almost always say the same things: they need jobs, they want to be able to send their children to school. All the other needs vary from family to family. Some need clothes, some need a refrigerator, shoes, to fix something in the house, etc.”
Over the past seven months, the 10-20 rolling volunteers at ReVi have visited over 350 families, supporting as many as 600 school-aged children, and more than 300 children under the age of 5.
In light of the growing need, ReVi currently runs multiple schools/centers for kids who don’t have access to a nearby school, and they are looking to broaden those efforts even further.
“It’s one reason donations are so important to us,” Felipe explained. “The donation money is used to pay the rent for our 3 schools/centers, the salaries for 5 teachers, school materials and snacks for 100+ children, to give a food/hygiene package for every new family that we meet. We also use it to buy knitting products and bracelet materials that 20+ families are currently working on. This way, they are working for it and they have money to make their own decisions about what's most important for them at the moment.”
Expanding the Reach
Just as ReVi focuses on supporting children, they also invest time and money into getting adults back into the workforce through various projects that are inexpensive to fund and can make a critical difference when it comes to quality of life.
“At the moment, I think I'm most excited about our bracelet project,” Felipe said. “It's very cheap to get started, easy to learn, and we can get women to work right away from their own homes. All of our work so far has been focused on the families living in the city of Izmir. And trying to figure out how we can help them based on their skills.
We’re looking into expanding to another neighborhood of Izmir with a large concentration of Syrians. We’re also looking into renting a new house to make another school on a different part of Basmane. And, after the bracelet program is going in Basmane, we’re looking into doing it in some of the camps around Izmir.”
Here’s How You Can Help
ReVi is proud to operate on limited resources and has seen the difference that a small amount of money can make in the lives of the families with whom they work so closely.
“We are employing 12 families through our knitting program, and 10 families through our bracelet programs. We want to expand it further but also want to make sure we can maintain what we’ve done.
All of that adds up for fairly large monthly expenses, and ReVi is running low on cash. We need help! If you’re able to help, please do so. Every small donation counts."
Felipe and the ReVi team are making an overwhelmingly positive impact, igniting a growing sense of hope and possibility and improving life for hundreds of families. There remains so much that the volunteers at ReVi can do (and plan to do) for their community in and surrounding Izmir, but they can’t do it without support.
If you feel inspired, please join us so Felipe and his team can continue doing this very important work: http://supportrevi.org. Be sure to follow their journey on Facebook for updates on the situation in Izmir.
Julie Hays is the Communications Director here at Hyperbiotics. Health writer and mama of three little girls, Julie's on a mission to empower others to live lives free of the microbial depletion many of us face today. For more ideas on how you can maximize wellness and benefit from the power of probiotics, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
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