We aim to provide refugees in Greek camps, shelters, and housing communities with a source of emotional expression and economic self-empowerment while giving them a platform to spread awareness of the conditions in which they live and their varied and largely unmet needs. We provide donation-funded art supplies to the refugees–men, women, and children alike–then exhibit and sell the resulting works of art around the world with the help of communities that help to host art shows. We return one hundred percent of the earnings from the sale of refugees’ artwork to the artist who created each piece.
We additionally raise funds for, purchase, and distribute material aid to fill the immediate and unmet needs of these and other refugees. This aid includes but is not limited to tents and sleeping bags for refugees sleeping outside, temporary housing for particularly vulnerable individuals and their families, hygiene products for women and children, and food for refugees with no financial aid that are living in camps and housing communities.
How we got started
In 2015, our founder Kayra Martinez, a flight attendant for United Airlines based in Frankfurt, Germany, heard about the horrible conditions in which asylum seekers were made to live in. She was inspired to leverage her privileged lifestyle to make a difference. She started by organizing collections of needed items like coats and warm clothing in her Frankfurt community, and later decided to volunteer in the refugee camps and housing communities in the north of Greece. It was at the Nea Kavala camp that Kayra had the idea to give the children art supplies so that they could draw and paint.
From the first session Kayra noticed how the creative process seemed to calm the kids, so she began regular art workshops for the children in the tents in the camp. She shared what she was doing with her friends through social media when someone suggested to her that she sell the paintings. Over time, parents joined their children, and Kayra expanded the program to include adults who were interested. She began selling the pieces on behalf of the artists, returning all of the earnings to the individuals that created each piece sold.
In October of 2016, Kayra registered her operation as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the United States, and with the help of volunteers she met in Greece, began hosting exhibitions of refugee art across the United States, and later, across the world.
What we do
Our main operation consists of facilitating art workshops and the sale of refugee-created art. With the donations of generous individuals around the world we purchase art supplies from local, Greek vendors that our volunteers on the ground take to our artists in the camps around Greece. Our volunteers host workshops in their homes and the tents of the artists in the camps. In a process of self-empowerment these soulful individuals heal the trauma of recent years through the self-reflection, self-expression, and storytelling power of the creative process. Their creations are then transported by volunteers to cities around the world where they organize exhibitions and sell the art. One hundred percent of the profits from the sale of each piece of art is returned to the artist.
In addition to our art program, our volunteers coordinate other aid programs including the distribution of material and financial aid to meet the immediate and unmet needs of these and other displaced individuals. These include providing sleeping bags, tents, and temporary quarters for those refugees with housing insecurity; providing unspoiled food for those without, and locating missing persons.
Additionally, Love Without Borders works to aid and protect the homeless animal populations in Greece, many of whom were harmed by the recent wildfires in Greece. To support these efforts, donate to our GoFundMe drive here.
While our primary purpose is to fill the immediate needs of these vulnerable populations through refugee-powered programs supplemented by donations, we also aim to educate, to spread awareness of the conditions faced by refugees and the continued state of the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. Each art show includes a presentation by volunteers who share their first-hand experience with aid work and the stories of the individuals who they serve. Our volunteers also partner with American schools to educate young people and expand their awareness of the conditions that many young Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian, Pakistani, Eritrean, and North African people live in, as well as to inspire them to seek out the human connection that can be found in the experience of sharing creativity.