A T-shirt campaign to help refugees

12 de julho de 2016

São Paulo – T-shirts with the Arabic word ‘Habibi’ written on them will be sold in a campaign to purchase bicycles for refugees living in Brazil. The initiative is from the Beirut, Lebanon-based Brazilian journalist Lú Braga, who runs the blog Na Segunda Lú Começa (Lú Will Begin on Monday). Her goal is to help improve the mobility of refugees in Brazilian cities.

‘Habibi’ means ‘my dear’ or ‘my love’ in Arabic, the language of Brazil’s biggest refugee community today – Syria’s. “But this is a cause that concerns the whole world, and not only Brazil, so this is a teaser action that hopefully will lead to other bigger ones to help these people,” says Braga, adding that the amount of refugees is increasing in Brazil and worldwide.

Braga came up with the idea during a trip to Brazil in February this year, during which she was approached by refugees asking for bus fare. The bicycles should help them move around as well as protect the environment. “It’s about social responsibility and sustainability,” Braga asserts.

Initially, the proceeds will be used to purchase bicycles for refugees who live in São Paulo, where there are lots of bike lanes. Distribution will be handled by NGO Instituto de Reintegração do Refugiado (Adus, the Institute for Refugee Reintegration). Eventually, partnership-based distribution will come about in other cities including Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Porto Velho (Rondonia), Foz do Iguaçu and Curitiba (Paraná).

The campaign will be launched with a bike ride on the streets of Beirut on July 31. Lú Braga will invite the Brazilian community living in the Arab country to join the ride, including Brazilian Armed Forces officers stationed in Lebanon as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission. The project was planned to happen during the Rio 2016 Olympics, which are set to begin on August 5.

One of the reasons Brazil was chosen is the fact that its economy is struggling right now, Braga explains, not to mention that she is a Brazilian who lives in Lebanon. For its part, Lebanon is now home to scores of Syrian refugees, since Syria – which touches borders with Lebanon – is in the midst of a civil war. Therefore, the blogger is well familiar with the conditions that refugees experience. Although the proceeds from the campaign will go to refugees living in Brazil, the plan is to sell T-shirts around the world and to eventually launch the campaign in Africa too. Angolans are the second biggest refugee community in Brazil, Braga remarks.

The T-shirts were designed by Ítalo Silva, a student at the São Paulo State University (Unesp) in Presidente Prudente, São Paulo. They are 100% cotton, made in Brazil, and will be selling for USD 30. Since there are no sponsors, part of the money will go to covering production costs, and USD 18 per T-shirt sold will be spent on the actual bike purchases. Braga is expecting to sell 5,000 units. The T-shirts will be available from the blog Na Segunda Lú Começa’s online shop from July 31. Braga will also sell them in Lebanon, and the NGO Adus, in Brazil.

The campaign also includes an app allowing buyers to temporarily write their own sayings about refugees and project them onto the T-shirt, so they can take photos and post it online as a way to spread the word.

Quick facts

‘Habibi’ T-shirt Campaign
Find out more and buy (from July 31):

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum