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David Charles

UK

About this campaign

I'm cycling over 3,000km, across the Carpathian mountains, through Transylvania and the Balkans, from Bratislava to Athens, because our borders are trapping millions of people in intolerable conditions.

Today, there are over 42,000 people living in horrifying camps on the Aegean Islands - stuck there until such a time as we collectively choose compassion over nationalism. And, of course, that figure is dwarfed by the 3,000,000+ Syrian refugees trapped in Turkey.

It's easy to feel hopeless, but we can make a difference.

That's why I ride with Thighs of Steel and why, as part of the core team this year, I'm doing all I can to help the other 100+ cyclists raise tonnes of cash for Help Refugees.

The main beneficiary of the money you donate through this page will be Khora, a grassroots community centre in Athens that offers displaced people hot food, legal support and friendship. The centre is run entirely by volunteers on solidarity and donations.

I visited Khora last year and met a wonderful bunch of people who are already making a difference. The work they do is of immense practical and psychological support to actual human beings every day.

Alee is a long-term volunteer and refugee from Pakistan who found Khora after the factory where he worked was shut down in 2016.

'I didn't come here to volunteer,' Alee told me. 'When I came here, I was homeless, I was jobless, I was penniless – even hopeless, to some extent.

'I was at the verge of mental collapse,' he says. 'I mean, I could have been suicidal. I could jump from the fifth floor. The Khora volunteers kept me alive. Honestly, I'm telling you, they kept me alive.'

Fluent in multiple languages, including Greek, Alee started volunteering as a translator on the Khora info desk, during refugee hospital visits and with the legal team.

Now Alee spends most of his volunteer time at the Khora Free Shop, where refugees and others can pick up clothes, shoes, toiletries, books, toys and other things they might not be able to afford.

'Khora is about giving hope as well as help,' Alee says.

If you think that helping refugees is a generally good idea, then please donate whatever you can afford. Thank you in advance!