Vietnamese Boat People refugee donation Facebook Cafe Soya

An older generation of refugees are rallying support for those fleeing the Syrian conflict.

Vietnamese boat people — refugees who fled that country as it fell to communists after the Vietnam War — are launching donation drives in the far-flung countries where they landed and settled.

Mountains of donated socks, coats, and other cold weather gear – 5,000 items for refugees in all – piled up at Cafe Soya, a restaurant run by a Vietnamese-Chinese refugee family in Birmingham, England.

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“Overwhelmed by all the kind support,” wrote the cafe proprietors on their business Facebook page, where they posted pictures of donations received, including 80 coats from one individual alone.


Posted by Cafe' Soya on Friday, December 4, 2015

The cafe teamed up with nonprofit Project Tom and The Birmingham Chinese Evangelical Church to collect donations. Their gifts for a new generation of refugees were shipped to Greece Friday by the Convoy of Hope for Humanity.

Across the Atlantic, Mathew Koyanagi has been helping with his parents’ annual Christmas charity drive. The 35-year-old was a baby born to Vietnamese refugees when his Canadian parents adopted him.

The family’s living room is stacked high with all kinds of donations, and his mother is assembling “baby kits” — packed with nightshirts, diapers, safety pins, blankets, and cold weather clothes — for the hundreds of Syrian refugee families expected to arrive in their province of British Columbia this winter.

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Dozens of one-time boat people turned out for a fundraiser December 3, at an Alberta, Calgary Vietnamese restaurant. They raised $10,000 to help settle and relocate the 2,500 Syrian refugees expected in their province soon.

Many talked about how their experiences 30 to 40 years ago must mirror those of refugees today.

“We never forget it and even we come here and live in Canada for 20 years and after that we still have the dreams about how we escaped,” Peter Phan told CBC News. “Very grateful when we come to the freedom country.”

Photo by Cafe Soya, Facebook

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