AUP Community Blog

Supporting Refugees in Paris and Beyond

Camille Passi

Student-led club Baytna à Vous gives AUP students the chance to assist, engage with and learn from vulnerable or displaced people in Paris and elsewhere. 

By Camille Passi

Imagine that you had to flee everything you have ever known: your country, your job, your friends. What things would you pack? What thoughts would be going through your head? If you are a parent; what worries would you have about the safety of your children? These are just some of the initial thoughts of refugees when they are forced to flee their homes. A refugee is any person forced to leave their country because of war, persecution or a natural disaster. The UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) estimates that at the end of 2020 there were 82.4 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, 26.4 million of whom are refugees.  Also, it is important to clarify that there is a difference between a migrant and a refugee. A refugee is someone forced to flee their home while a migrant is someone who chooses to leave their home for financial reasons or job opportunities in another country, for example. Words have meaning and those meanings matter, especially in this context.  

Baytna à Vous (or BV for short) is a student-led organization that provides opportunities for students to meet and engage with refugees, especially those who are resettling in France. These encounters allow students to speak with, understand and connect with refugees and their stories. We hold workshops that build awareness of ongoing refugee crises and host fundraising events to support refugees with their urgent needs. In addition, we foster meaningful partnerships between BV, the University, and different organizations helping refugees.  

Our most recent event this semester was holding a bake sale to benefit newly arrived Afghan refugees in Paris. We held the sale on October 21; its success helped us raise funds to purchase urgent needs for two refugee families in Paris. What made this experience particularly unique was that students then went to meet the refugee families they were raising funds for. This event showcases the direct and hands-on approach that BV strives to create through its events. In this way, students can create meaningful connections with refugees in their communities. 

BV also has some upcoming events that we encourage all AUP students to take part in. We are planning a winter clothing drive for refugees in Calais (northern France). The donations will be distributed by the NGO L’Auberge des Migrants, which is currently on the ground working with refugees in Calais who are either waiting for their French asylum request to be processed or are trying to cross to the United Kingdom. We are also excited to be working alongside Serve the City Paris, who distribute food to homeless people across the city – many of whom are refugees. We are in the process of creating a sustainable partnership with Serve the City to help them prepare sandwiches for homeless refugees in Paris. To find out more about any of these events, check our AUP Engage page. 

We hold board meetings once a week to give members an open space to talk about anything Baytna à Vous related. The day and time can vary, but email us at and we will add you on our WhatsApp group so you can have updates in real time!