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German, Wenn Du weitere Informationen auf Deutsch brauchst, wende Dich bitte an Dorothea,

Danish, For mere information paa Dansk kan De kontakte Heidi.



Czech, Pro více informací v ceském jazyce kontaktujte prosím


French, Pour plus d'informations en français, vous pouvez contacter Claire Caron sur

Polish, Po dodatkowe informacje w jezyku polskim kontakt or

Spanish, Si quieres más información en castellano, no dudes en ponerte en contacto conmigo, Laura

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Diana Jekina,


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Well I'm certainly feeling Christmassy - what with the ice rink and the Christmas market it's all rather jolly in town!

HIL has, however, been pretty much fully absorbed with working with the 250 mostly Syrian refugees living in the old TNO building on the Wassenaarseweg. I am so very, very proud of what we have achieved so far in such a short time and how amazing the response has been from all of you - thank you so, so much for all your offers and donations of time, money and necessary articles. Obviously, there's still a long way to go, but the most important stage has been reached - there is now really good, effective contact between the residents and our community. Many initiatives are starting to appear - an art and craft project with children and adults, a running club, a yoga class, advanced Dutch lessons, to name a few. Our aim is to empower the residents to start up and run these clubs with the support of members of our community, to boost confidence and bring people together. We'll also be working in partnership with the VKC, the women's centre in town.

I have spent a lot of time in the centre over the last weeks. There are 145 men, 60 women (two of whom are pregnant) 19 boys, 16 girls and 2 babies. The older children are at secondary school, the younger ones in theory will be placed in school after Christmas.

There are many other organizations working with the centre now. If you'd like to invite a group of refugees to your house for a meal, you can join - a great initiative! Hello Leiden brings together different initiatives and meets on Friday afternoons at the Old School café, Pieterskerkhof 4a. Yara shared her story of her journey here last week - it is truly humbling to know how much people have gone through to be here. coordinates official activities. Food donations are also gratefully received at the voedselbank, ( who are making up parcels for the residents of the centre.

I think the strength of our approach is in its focus friendship, and on what the residents themselves want, and on filling in the gaps between what is already in place. As Yara and Manar work through making an 'census' of all the residents and what they need and what skills they can offer, we are getting a clear picture of what we can indeed do. Going forward, some concrete things are still needed, and your continued support in offering skills, time and money is hugely appreciated!

What is needed now?

  • Bicycles . Urgently! Also bike locks and bike repair kits. If you have a bike to offer or would like to buy one I can put you in touch with Hamada who is coordinating this in the centre and he'll arrange for a pick up/drop off.
  • Haircutting equipment - One of the residents is a barber and has offered to cut the hair of residents if he can have proper barbers equipment.
  • Sports clothes, especially shoes , for men and women for the running club. Does anyone know of a sports club/shop that might be interested in sponsoring/donating shoes?
  • Kettles - I've seen how one kettle is shared between many rooms, and with in many cases 4 men per room this makes is awfully hard to have a cup of tea!
  • Art and craft material . Also, would you like to be involved in a Yara's art projects with the residents and/or setting up a gift exchange programme? She's planning on setting up a facebook page etc so help with this would be great too, as well as ideas and networking.
  • Wool, knitting needles , patterns etc for a knitting club. Would you like to be involved in a knitting club and/or in helping the residents raise money for the centre through knitting?
  • Money, of course, to buy necessities not suitable for donation. If you would like to make a donation please email me and I will send you bank details.
  • Sports, skills, hobbies etc - do you have sport or a skill you'd be willing to share with a group of like-minded people from the centre?

If you'd like to contribute to any of the above categories, or know someone who you think would like to be involved, please get in touch with me at

Happy Christmas everyone!



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Recent additions:
Take a look at our new section Bread and Baking

See Q`s Cakes on the right of this site by Social. Take a look at this new website: Delicious handmade cupcakes delivered to your door.