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Sevilla Helps Syria - It started with a Whatsapp

Por: | 10 de diciembre de 2015

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Living in a foreign country, it´s easy to go through life as a passenger. Dipping in and out, buzzing around like a nectar drinking, humming bird, before flitting off into the sunset when the going gets tough. After all, for most Brits living in Spain, it´s the lifestyle we´re after - a more relaxed pace of life, long lunch breaks, nothing too heavy.

But sometimes that lightness of being can turn into a remoteness, a separation from whatever real life seems to consist of in that moment.

As someone who came to Seville to escape the heaviness of London life, at first living apart in a fancy free, Guiri world enchanted me. I was free to do as I pleased, with no one to answer to. But five years down the line, it just wasn´t enough. I wanted to contribute in some way to the city that had welcomed me with open arms, I just wasn´t sure how.

In May I tentatively dipped my toe in the ‘ giving back’ waters, when following the earthquake in Nepal, I was involved in a small way in a fund raising event that raised 11,000 euros in one night. On a high from the feel good vibes and camaraderie, I sent a whatsapp message to our group suggesting a follow up, secondhand clothes market. To which the response was ´Great idea, so you´ll organise it right?´ Begrudgingly, I agreed.

Refugee event
Some of the volunteers in action

 Summer came and went and the attention of the news reading public inevitably moved on to the next human catastrophe, which this year happened to be the mass displacement of Syrians from their homes, with hardened hearts softening at the sight of a small child´s body washed up on the shores of Greece.

It seemed we had no alternative but to redirect our event towards the Syrian refugees and while we were at it, why stop at a clothes market? ´Let´s go for the maximum fund raising potential and organise a day-long event with live music, bar, food, kids activities, alternative therapies.. Oh and you´re ok coordinating that Mary, right?´

Gulp. The words ´claro que si´ might have slid out of my mouth, but inside every inch of my being was screaming ´Nooooo´.

Luckily, it’s not just been me putting what at times has felt like an Andaluz ‘Live Aid’ together. We’re an international groups of Spanish, British (including fellow Trans Iberian Blogger Fiona Watson), Americans, Syrians and Nepalese, all united by the desire to make some small difference to an impossible situation.

Refugee event 2

But here we are 2 months later and this Saturday 12th December is the big day. With the name ´Mi Corazón sin Fronteras´ (My heart without borders), our group of ordinary Joes have put together an event that promises to at least double the amount we raised for Nepal, with proceedings going to the UN agency for refugees, ACNUR.

Taking place in the Cortijo building in the Alamillo Park, it starts at 10am with most of the chilled activities like Yoga, Tai Chi, Shiatsu etc happening before the live music starts at 1pm with local acts such as Bosco the FAKE, Emmett, My Yellowstone, Contradanza, Rigo Ochoa, Yomuri, Maria La Serrana, Cule & Cheyennes and Londoner Esther Weekes with her Flamenco/jazz outfit, Lucky Eye, playing until 8pm.

Plus there’s loads of stuff for kids like face painting, arts and craft workshops, bouncy castle and puppet show and for the adults a bar (obviously) and a middle-eastern tea area.

Tickets cost 3 euros, with a drink included. Plus an entry in the lucky dip, with the possibility of winning one of over 1000 prizes such as an experience for two in the Arab Baths, a night in a boutique hotel, dinners in some of Seville’s finest restaurants, cooking courses, hampers of organic products, to name but a few.

If you’re in the vicinity, come. If you’re not, why not organize your own?

For further information check out Sevilla Ayuda A Siria Facebook event page or our Facebook community page

If you can’t make it but would like to make a donation to ACNUR: LA CAJA RURAL DEL SUR, ES82 3187 0812 8110 9511 7824






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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

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