Refugee Company had a group of surprising volunteers on Thursday evening.  44 HR directors from the multinational AkzoNobel here for a global conference, took a break from their meeting room and came to give the Refugee Company space a bit of a facelift. Their leader Martin Booisman wanted his team to do something with refugees.  He explained the AkzoNobel Corporate Social Responsibility philosophy: “we don’t just make money donations – we prefer to give our own time to do something really personal for the community.”

Divided into several teams the immediately got to work.  While one team gave a group of refugees a one-to-one session on improving their CVs, the other teams rolled up their sleeves and took on some real manual labour.

One group built giant plant pots which will later be filled with soil and plants to bring some much needed greenery to our surroundings here at the former prison.  And the others took on the Herculean task of clearing up the ‘restaurant’ space next to our quarters which has been filled with discarded furniture from the former prison.  Within a couple of hours they had turned what looked like a 2ndhand furniture warehouse into a clean and inviting gathering place with tables and chairs arranged cafeteria style and RC posters decorating the wall.

Ziad as usual provided a Syrian feast and gave a short moving introduction.  Standing on a table addressing the audience of AN directors and Refugee Company members, he said “food has been an important part of my life, and this meal my wife and I prepared for you is a kind of a letter to you so you can learn a little bit about our beautiful country which we love and miss so much.”

It was an evening when managing directors and refugees, volunteers, young and old, people from different walks of life from all corners of the world, came together for one great evening to share food, fellowship and goodwill.