VOA News | September 22, 2017
by Niki Papadogiannakis
WASHINGTON — Kayra Martinez took calligraphy paper and pens into refugee tents in Greece last year.
“That was the first time I had actually seen the children really calm,” Martinez said. “And I realized that this is something that they really love to do.”
As a flight attendant for United Airlines, Martinez is often in Greece, where she was drawn to the refugee camps and began volunteering there in 2015.
Focusing her efforts on Nea Kavala in northern Greece, she is now the first point of contact for many families in need.
“It’s very, very actually challenging to be able to leave Greece, because you have urgent needs every day,” she said. “Every day you have a family writing to you.”
The paper and pens presented a whole new opportunity. Martinez put one of the pieces of art on Facebook and instantly received offers to purchase it. Since then, Martinez has provided canvases, watercolors, pencils, markers, calligraphy paper and sketchpads to adults and children in the refugee camps.
She collects their art and takes it to cities around the U.S. and Europe, selling each piece for $25 to $150. She then uses the money to help the refugees in the camps through her new organization, Love Without Borders — for Refugees.
Many of the pieces sold are from children as young as 3.