Refugees Week of Welcome: united around a table

Opening the doors to your home and your community is the best way to integrate refugees. That’s why, during the week of June 19th, more than 2,000 people around the world came together around their dinner table to welcome refugees to their new home.

One of those tables was Rosario’s, in the neighbourhood of Gracia, Barcelona. Rosario is a Colombian refugee that came to Spain almost ten years ago, fleeing conflict. Rosario, who worked as a doctor in Colombia, warmly welcomed Rami, who left Syria two years ago and dreams of studying Medicine in Barcelona.

Teenage refugees are deeply forgotten about. They left their homes as kids. In their host country, they suddenly have to be adults. There’s a phase in their lives that they haven’t been able to live

Johana, a lawyer friend of Rosario’s, also joined the supper; along with Zamiaa, who emigrated from Syria to Barcelona 20 years ago; and Zamiaa’s daughter, Dina, who fled Syria after the outbreak of the conflict.

Johana cooperates with Red Cross Spain in their refugees’ program. “I go to the airport to welcome them, and I help them during their first days with the paperwork and the language“, she explains. This experience has transformed her: “In Colombia, I was stuck in my own world. Working with refugees is hard, but it has given me a new view of the world“.

Rosario and Johana know there’s still much to do. “All refugees are treated the same way, without considering their needs, their age…“, says Johana. Rosario believes it’s urgent “to educate volunteers and coordinate them. There’s a lot of people working but in a disorganised way. My project is to create a network to help refugees with their integration into their new city“.

Dina, 18, especially empathises with Rami’s case: “Teenage refugees are deeply forgotten about. They left their homes as kids. In their host country, they suddenly have to be adults. There’s a phase in their lives that they haven’t been able to live“.

In February, Airbnb set a goal to provide short-term housing to 100,000 displaced people over the next five years. That’s why we have created the platform Airbnb.es/welcome, where people from all over the world can list their home to voluntarily welcome refugees that need temporary housing.