Paul Carr began following the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015 when images were flooding the internet and news channels of yet more bombings and atrocities in Syria, with ISIS killing thousands of innocent citizens and children every day. He was working in financial services at the time and was feeling wholly unsatisfied with his job.

Then the pictures hit the media of 5-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed up on shore; he died alongside 3,700 other souls trying to get to Europe that year. With tears in his eyes, Paul discussed options about what he could do with his girlfriend Gemma (now wife) and between them they decided to hold a fundraiser to gather funds for a trip to Lesvos so he could get ‘hands on’ with beach rescues and help with aid wherever needed. A calling stirred inside; Paul quit his job, and his journey into humanitarian aid began.

Paul and Gemma set up a You Caring page and raised 1,200 euros at a dinner auction, and began collecting clothing donations to go to Greece. The spare room quickly filled almost to the ceiling with clothes! Paul arrived on Lesvos on 29th January 2016 and immediately started helping in camps and with beach rescues. Refugees were queuing for handouts of food and clothing as they arrived with nothing. Their dignity was shattered, their lives changed forever. Over the next two months, he spoke with refugee families and listened to their heartbreaking stories, and he realised it was only luck that separated him from them. He managed to get a job working with Samaritans Purse and stayed in Greece for a further five months.

 

In those five months, he moved from Lesvos to Idomeni, where 15,000 refugees were stuck at the border of Macedonia. Support was growing locally for Paul through friends, social media, and the Costa del Sol West church, who supplied 10 tonnes of firewood and baby milk for 3,000 children while he was on the ground. Gemma joined him on his missions every two weeks and felt an overwhelming attachment to the crisis herself, so when Paul’s employment came to an end with Samaritans Purse, they both decided to use some of their savings to create Collective Calling as a Spanish registered NGO. They realised that there was little they could do as individuals, but that collectively a large group of people could really make a difference in the lives of those fleeing the horrors of war.

From that point on they started doing talks in more churches and also clubs and associations such as The Rotary Club, getting more and more support along the way. They gathered more funds and since then have supported refugees with further distributions of baby formula, hygiene packs, diapers, thousands of kilos of fruit and vegetables and tonnes of clothing in Greece, Turkey, Serbia & Africa – the priority being to get aid to the most vulnerable.

In March 2017, CC was chosen by the Bishop of Edinburgh for the 2017 Lent Appeal. More fundraisers were being held by other caring individuals to gather support for the ever-growing amount of refugees stranded and enduring horrendous conditions, and it was becoming clear that there was a collective of people out there who really wanted to help and were searching for a way to do it.

It was now 20 months since Paul first made his way to Lesvos and after identifying the needs in various locations throughout the crisis, CC are now focusing their efforts on helping refugees with disabilities living within refugee camps and local community support initiatives.  They are collaborating with other NGO´s to continue to help with other areas that need attention in Greece such as mental health issues using Yoga Trauma Therapy, but primarily they are empowering children with disabilities in the third largest refugee camp on the globe in Nyarugusu, Tanzania, which is home to 127,000 people, over 50% being children. 

Their plan for the next coming months is to deploy small teams on the ground in refugee camps throughout Greece that they have access to through partners, collaborators and like-minded NGOs. The aim is to identify children with disabilities there also, establish what services are lacking or simply aren´t available and to then meet those immediate needs in form of aid and program implementation. As and when crisis´ arise, teams may be deployed to other crisis zones to identify children with disabilities and meet immediate emergency needs.

Collective Calling is a collective of entrepreneurs, service organisations, churches, companies, and compassionate individuals – all striving to alleviate the suffering of our fellow human beings in desperate need. Their vision is to create a worldwide platform that bridges the way for those who have had a calling to help those in need, to go forth and empower the lives of those affected by war, persecution and poverty.

Idomeni 2016
Here is a video of Paul Carr at the border of Idomeni in 2016. At this point, 10,000 refugees were stranded at the border enduring horrendous conditions as barbed wire borders were erected all across Europe shortly after the EU / Turkey deal was implemented. Collective Calling was yet to be founded, Paul was working for Samaritans Purse NGO and also operating independently with the support of the Costa Del Sol West Church in Spain. When Paul reported back to the CDS West church about the lack of baby milk, they swiftly donated funds to provide 3000 children with baby milk. This video is moments just before the distribution took place.
Idomeni 2016
During Paul´s time spent at the border of Idomeni serving vulnerable refugee families, firewood was identified as a high priority item of aid. Refugees were left with no electricity or clean water, the only way to cook food and sterilise water was to burn wood to create fires. With 10,000 people stranded at the border the situation soon morphed into an environmental disaster alongside a humanitarian disaster. Once most of the trees had been cut down, the situation became desperate very quickly. Paul swiftly coordinated 10 tons of firewood to be delivered to the border, sponsored once again by the Costa del Sol West Church in Spain. Here is a video of the delivery and distribution.
Petra Camp 2016
In July of 2016 the border of Idomeni was forcibly cleared and thousands of refugees were transferred to official, military run camps. The situation in Greece went through a major shift with regards to humanitarian operations and ability to respond. Volunteers, organisations, NGOs etc had to get permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide humanitarian assistance. Channels were being blocked for independent volunteers to continue helping the refugees in Greece so, shortly before the border was cleared, Collective Calling started its process of becoming a registered NGO. Paul finished his deployment with Samaritans Purse and collaborated with CYCI, an NGO dedicated to saving the Yazidi population from total annihilation at the hands of ISIS. Approximately 2000 Yazidis made their way to Greece and when the border was cleared, they were taken to Petra camp for protection purposes, which was located at the foot of mount Olympus. Through CYCI - Collective Calling was given access to the camp to serve children and the most vulnerable of cases. During our time serving the Yazidi population 1000´s kgs of fruit, flour & dry food was distributed, 800 babies were given enough formula to last a month and so much more. Here is Paul coordinating one of the vegetable distributions provided by Collective Calling at the time.
Site Asessment - Petra Camp
Here is a video of our first days in Petra Camp conducting our needs assessment and feedback for our sponsors/donors. We pride ourselves on providing accurate information from the ground giving our supporters a clear view of the situation and how best it is for us collectively to react.
WINTER AID MISSION - 2016/17
The Yazidi population in Iraq suffered tremendously at the hands of ISIS. The women were forced to be sex slaves and the males, even young children, were slaughtered. On August 3rd, 2014 - ISIS attacked Mount Sinjar, population to 400,000 Yazidi, the majority who managed to escape fled for their lives to the peak of Mount Sinjar. They were then besieged by ISIS for days, enduring extremely high temperatures, until Iraq & the UN rescued the survivors, plucking them off of the mountain. We had the honour to serve 1,200 Yazidis during our winter project in Greece. Most of the people you see in this video have now been relocated. This is a video of us receiving a container full of winter aid.
YAZIDI SUPPORT PROJECT 2016/17
During our winter aid mission, we served various camps. Once the clearance of the border had taken place refugees were moved to "Offical Camps". This made logistics a challenge, coordinating various distributions, meeting various needs to people fleeing war and persecution. Thanks to our strong team of volunteers on the ground, distributions were performed swiftly. Here is a video of a distribution for 750kg flour, this goes a long way. Women would make bread which is then given out to the refugee community, this distribution promoted a sense of self-worth for the women, putting their skills back to good use. Dignified aid is of the utmost importance at Collective Calling.
Local Support Iniative - 2017
We provide hot and cold meals to the homeless community every month in the district of Fuengirola. We have a wonderful team of volunteers who donate their time, to give back, we couldn´t do it without them, this is a collective effort. A typical dish cooked up would be a nutritional, energy boosting meal, for 30 of our friends in Fuengirola. A pasta salad with a balsamic finish alongside yoghurts, muffins, bread & coffee. Before or after our beneficiaries have eaten, a boutique is open for them to choose clothing that has been also kindly donated. We couldn´t continue to provide our support In Europe, Turkey, Africa & Spain without the diverse input that each person brings to the organisation.
Athens support program - 2017
In collaboration with Seeds Of Humanity, Collective Calling is supporting vulnerable Syrian refugee families currently residing in Athens, Greece. These families are receiving zero official support, we support these families by providing food, baby items & hygiene kits. We are proud to be a part of this support project, we aim to fill gaps where governments and larger NGOs overlook and the appreciation and gratitude that is shown by our beneficiaries tells us that our support is very much needed.