In the spirit of being thankful this month at AYA, we are very thankful for all those who contributed and participated at the Train of Hope donation center in Vienna during our annual National Meeting in Austria. Train of Hope is an organization of independent volunteers who coordinate and volunteer emergency provision for refugees at the Vienna Central Station in Austria. Their goal is to supply travelers with food, donations and information. They want the traveler to feel welcome and a moment of peace when they arrive.
Lindsay a Local Coordinator from New York contacted the AYA office as she wanted to contribute to the volunteer refugee efforts while attending the National Meeting in Vienna. Without hesitation AYA started to organize donations from our Stamford office from all our program divisions at AIFS. We quickly ended up with piles of clothes, toiletries and hats and gloves in our office. In addition to these donations our LCs from across the U.S. also brought donations with them to the meeting. At our hotel in Vienna we had so much to bring to the station that we had to recruit others to carry it to the Vienna Central Station with us.
Julie, Student Support Specialist from our Stamford office shares with us her experience at the Train of Hope Center…
I’d like to share some background on the processing center where many refugees come as their first checkpoint in Austria. Upon registering they have access to food, hygiene products, and clothing that is all donated. There’s also another wonderful little group called “Sikh Help Austria” that comes every single day to cook hot meals for the refugees. The center also provides shuttles to nearby shelters where they can sleep and rest. The two things that stuck with me the most were the children’s room, and the missing persons center. The children’s room was sort of a daycare, and it was filled with drawings the children drew while they were there. It really put into perspective for me at that moment that most of those traveling are very young and not at all complicit in anything that’s been going on. The missing persons center, was also very moving. They have a station set up where, if you’ve lost someone along your travels, Train of Hope will help you broadcast their picture all over social media to help locate them for you. They have a 75% success rate of reuniting with their families.
AYA is very grateful for the Stamford office staff who donated along with LCs, exchange students and host families who participated in this heartfelt effort. At AYA our mission is to bring the world together and we do that not only through our cultural exchange programs but in efforts like this to better the world and bring peace.
AYA would like to say a very special thank you to LC Nikki P. from Illinois, Erin O. from Oregon, LC Lindsay B. from New York, LC Stephanie S. from Colorado, LC Regenia S. from Ohio, LC Crisianee B. from North Carolina, Patti Stack Operations and Enrollment Manager at AYA, Julie Albert, Student Support Specialist at AYA and all our staff at AIFS, Stamford, Connecticut and program participants across the U.S.
If you would like to learn how you can donate to Train of Hope, check out their website, here. At AYA we carry our mission through everything we do from our programs to its participants. Thank you everyone who contributed and gave back to those in need. Like us on Facebook to follow other stories of AYA giving back during the month of November.