SOS Refugees (by Patient Innovation)

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The "Patient Innovation SOS Refugees" intends to raise € 3,000 for the purchase of essential goods to support the refugees who come by train to Tabanovce on the border between Macedonia and Serbia, from the border with Greece.

At the end of September, Pedro Oliveira, Professor of Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics and founder of the Patient Innovation was in Tabanovce as a volunteer to help refugees. On that occasion Pedro described his experience as follows:

There are no words to describe the last 24 hours, not even if illustrated with pictures from a phone. I do not know how to describe the arrival of successive trains transporting thousands of people  (including hundreds of babies and children) on a cold night at the border between Serbia and Macedonia... 

I don’t know because it is too bad for words... but yesterday I learned how to tell a father with a baby in his arms asking for "milk, milk" that there was no more milk! And that despite the cold, there were no more blankets either. And I learned to give directions to Serbia from Tabanovce in Macedonia, as if I really fully understood what I was saying... "Serbia... That way. (Pointing at the dark). In 4 kms you will find buses that will take you to the camp." I learned to say to the ladies who passed by me staggering with babies on their laps: "Go go... that way. Good luck." And I learned that offering the winter coat I was wearing to a woman, who needed it more than me, could give me infinite satisfaction… And I saw volunteers burst into tears of joy because they had found a blanket to keep a 9-month-old baby warm.

Then, I also went with them, walking arm in arm with Syrians and Afghans (yes! They wanted to walk holding each other arms), while they were talking about Ronaldo, Deco, Pepe… They told me they were students and had been on the road for about 2 months. But the most impressive thing, was the hope, determination, courage, and "lightness as they walked into the dark fields full of invisible traps in the middle of the night… And I felt their undeserved gratitude: “You are an angel, you are a good man. We really need you. Thank you.” – On the contrary, thank you! for all the learning.

(Pedro Oliveira’s testimony in Tabanovce, October 1, 2015)    

Now, Pedro and Leid Zejnilovic, lecturer and researcher at the Católica-Lisbon from the former Yugoslavia, will return to the site, with more resources to locally acquire some essential items such as blankets, clothing warm, waterproof, food and other goods. The entire Patient Innovation team is associated with this initiative, despite the fact that the primary mission of the Patient Innovation is different. Patient Innovation is a non-profit platform where patients, caregivers and employees of any disease can share the solutions they developed with the aim of improving their quality of life.

About the author

The Patient Innovation is an online platform and social network (, multilingual, non-profit and open access, where patients, caregivers and employees of any disease can share in community, the solutions developed to cope with their life condition and to improve the quality of life. It consists in a space of encounter for patients and caregivers from different countries, promoting mutual aid and problem solving among individuals with the same problems. The platform is the result of a multidisciplinary research by the Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics in partnership with the MIT Sloan School of Management and Carnegie Mellon University. It has the participation of the Institute of Molecular Medicine.

The project was initiated and is led by Prof. Pedro Oliveira from Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics, and Prof. Helena Canhão, a rheumatologist at the Hospital Santa Maria in Lisbon and professor of rheumatology at the Lisbon School of Medicine. Leid Zejnilovic is responsible for research and operations at Patient Innovation and also a researcher and instructor in the area of innovation at Católica-Lisbon. Ana Duarte, Carlos Henriques, Diana Nunes and Salome Azevedo are also part of the team developing communication functions with patients and caregivers, marketing, platform management, and the establishment of partnerships with patient groups, respectively.

The Advisory Board consists of the Prof. Aaron Ciechanover, Nobel Prize 2004 Chemistry, Prof. Eric von Hippel, a leading academic at MIT, Prof. Katherine Strandburg, New York University, Prof. Lee Fleming, of the University of California, Berkeley, Sir Richard Roberts, Nobel Prize in Medicine 1993 and Prof. Robert Langer, a renowned academic from MIT, with more than 1080 patents worldwide.

The Patient Innovation also collaborates, through partnership protocols, with more than 20 patient organizations in various countries such as US, UK, Australia, France, Malaysia, Portugal, Serbia, Croatia, Brazil, Bosnia, among others.

Budget and due dates

Budget: the aim is to raise a minimum of 3,000 euros value by 25 October, date of travel to Serbia and Macedonia. This amount will serve to ensure purchase of goods for the refugees including blankets, warm and waterproof clothing, food and other goods.

The amount raised by crowdfunding will revert entirely to the refugees. The logistical expenses (travel, accommodation, crowdfunding campaign) will be ensured by the promoters.

If the raised value exceeds the minimum amount, the entire surplus will be used for the same purpose, ie the purchase of goods considered essential for supporting the refugees.