Feb 11, 2019

WE HAVE STARTED WORK!

On July 23rd, 2018, wildfire erupted in the Southern Penteli area, afflicting the Rafina, Neos Voutzas and Mati areas, leaving behind 100 casualties and burning through burning 5.000.000 square meters of residential and forest land. 

Since the first hours of the wildfires aftermath, we have been present in the area participating in NGO and residents’ networks, communicating closely with municipal and local authorities, and providing help ad hoc, while evaluating long-term impact projects that contribute to the area’s recovery.

For this project we are collaborating with Desmos Non-Profit Foundation, a Greek organization that guarantees: 

  • Commitment to transparency, accountability and professionalism
  • Ability to identify and deliver a project that provides long-term support to children, families and local communities healing from the tragic fires
  • Efficiency, in order to create maximum social value

Placing children and families at the core of our project’s scope, the playgrounds’ reconstruction in the burnt areas was identified as the best way to help the community heal. Therefore, we have designed a project that will completely reconstruct or renovate playgrounds that have been completely burnt down or have been rendered unsafe for use. 

The East Attica project, thanks to your valuable support, will produce at least 4 state-of-the-art playgrounds in the Marathon municipality, fully compliant with EU safety and quality standards, that feature playground equipment accessible by all children, including those with disabilities, safety tiles, energy-saving solar panel lighting, faucet, and benches, as well as a reforested landscape. 

Our project has begun with the reconstruction of the first playground in N. Voutzas and is expected to be completed by June 2019.  

 

Feb 6, 2019

ALL HANDS ON DECK!

Global Giving Report: The Echo-HUB: Preparing Refugees for Integration

 

All Hands on Deck!

The last months were extremely busy at the HUB. For the first time ever, we had to stop registering new students as the classrooms were overflowing, due to an overwhelming demand for our language classes and recreational activities from many young Palestinians who arrived from Gaza.

Since the beginning of this year, we witnessed an immense increase in new refugee arrivals on the Greek islands. 101 boats attempted the trip to the Greek islands, carrying a total of 3776 people. Fifty-one boats completed the trip which brought 1839 people onto the Greek islands. The rest in the remaining 50 boats (1937 people), were arrested by the Turkish Coast guard and Police.

On Leros the refugee population is currently at 1176 people, and all reception facilities have reached maximum capacity. The Camp management resorted to setting up tents to accommodate the additional people. The living conditions for the residents are precarious, and there is no indication that the situation will improve. When the weather is good, the boats keep arriving.

HUB news:
We had very busy weeks leading up to Christmas. Apart from our regular schedule, we completed work on the second edition of ‘ZINE’: our intercultural art and literature magazine created by residents and volunteers which we published recently. Our students and volunteers participated in the ‘Santa Charity Run’ to raise funds for the ‘Blood Donor Society’ of Leros, which was an opportunity to give back to the local community.

During the holidays we closed down the HUB for a radical facelift, executed and funded by our coordinators and supported by a strong team. We now have two classrooms equipped with projectors, whiteboards and sound systems, which facilitates teaching and makes learning so much more fun!

We welcomed Konrad from ‘Bunt kickt Gut’ – a German NGO specialised in integration through street football – who held a football workshop on Leros for the young men from camp. It was a huge success and a welcome distraction from the monotonous camp life.

We also adjusted our schedule to accommodate the maximum number of students and improved our English curriculum. We see fantastic progress in our students’ language skills, moving upwards from level to level. We have a local volunteer who runs French language classes, and we are about to reintroduce Greek language courses to our curriculum.

We purchased a second-hand industrial sewing machine for our tailoring-workshop, and we are creating backpacks from recycled sails. Our barber workshop is a huge success, run by professionals from the refugee community. IT, Football, Arts and Crafts, Film and other activities remain very popular. We also run weekly CV workshops to prepare our students for the job market.

We are incredibly grateful to all our wonderful volunteers, who are so passionate and hardworking and create a friendly and safe environment at the HUB that promotes learning and creativity. And, last but not least a huge THANK YOU to all our donors and to Global Giving, without whom none of this would be possible.

Jan 28, 2019

Zine: Celebrating Freedom of Expression

Zine Cover: Art by Basel Alsheakh Ali
Zine Cover: Art by Basel Alsheakh Ali

Our volunteer coordinator for the past six months Jess Fogarty, writes about her involvement with the ‘Zine’ project. Published by Echo100Plus and created at the Hub, Zine is a collection of personal essays, art, and poems by refugees, who are currently stuck on the Greek island of Leros. It is a platform celebrating freedom of expression aiming to defy stereotypes about refugees. 

 

When asked to design the second issue of ‘Zine’ I took the request very seriously, determined to create a platform respectful of the words which had been shared. I found this project hugely important, as it offered the residents of Leros a chance to express themselves and take control of their own narrative. These people are not numbers, or a dry statistic, but mothers, brothers, sons, tailors, architects, students, artists, activists, aspiring nurses, and teachers with hopes and dreams and goals. They are some of the most inspiring, kind, pure-hearted people I have ever met.

 

Some students wrote in English, and others who could not yet express themselves in English wrote in their native tongue, working closely with a translator and our editor to ensure correct meaning. One day a friend handed me pages and pages of Arabic script - the words seemed to jump off the page in his eagerness to share his story with the world. By the time I could read the translation he had been arrested, and sent to a pre-deportation camp on another island. The translated text told of his depression and desperation, the police brutality he had experienced and his numerous suicide attempts. He finished his story by writing "This is my story of being a refugee. And I want my voice to be heard by everyone. I feel the world has lost its humanity."

 

A college graduate with a biology degree wrote about climate change… some shared poetry, others expressed themselves through art. One contributor could be always be found in the Hub, drawing almost incessantly, tearing through sketchbooks, reducing pencils to a stub. He created the most beautiful pictures, several of which can be found in the Zine. When we spoke to him about his process and passion, he said "I did not go to school to study art, it just came to me. I went through a lot and I don’t want to talk about that, but now I’m able to express my feelings through art. I’m glad that I’m able to now." 

 

My background is in design, specialising in a technique called Risograph printing, a popular technique due to it's vibrant ink colours and unique aesthetic. The final design of Zine used 11 ink colours throughout, which overlaid to create even more hues. When Risograph printing, you must print each colour separately, building up an image by physically feeding the paper back through the printer. To create this edition of 500, 44 page zines, paper was fed through the printer 16,500 times. 

 

Thanks to Holly St Lifer for your passion and creating this project, each contributor for trusting us with your words, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Office in Greece for supporting the printing of this issue, Dizzy Ink for printing the Zine so perfectly and of course Echo100Plus for making it happen.

 

You can read the Zine here. I hope reading it inspires you to share these peoples stories, and help us raise awareness.

Art by Mohammad Ababdallah
Art by Mohammad Ababdallah
Art by Basel Alsheakh Ali
Art by Basel Alsheakh Ali
Teaching a collage art workshop at The Hub
Teaching a collage art workshop at The Hub

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