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

Links:

Nov 12, 2018

We Keep On Going!

Dear GG -Team, Generous Donors and Supporters!

Since our last report from mid-August, the refugee population on the island of Leros has risen from 782 to 992. Newcomers are either referrals from other overcrowded island camps (the Hotspots) orchestrated by the authorities or direct arrivals from Turkey by boat.  Proof enough, that the refugee crisis is still ongoing, even if much of the world’s attention has shifted elsewhere. The infamous Hotspots - located on the Greek islands close to the Turkish border - remain, despite regular public outcries and promises of relief, outrageously overcrowded, tolerating inhumane living conditions for thousands of refugees and asylum seekers.

By running our HUB at full steam, we try our best to improve the lives of the people in our care and defuse a potentially critical situation on the island of Leros. The attendance of students at the HUB remains at full capacity. We have recently said goodbye to some of our long-term students who, after many months of waiting, received clearance to leave the island for the mainland and a new future. Unfortunately, we also witnessed several deportations of people whose asylum applications had been rejected. We register new students for our language, IT- and other educational and recreational classes every day. The ECHO-team remains committed to its mission to make the lives of refugees stranded on Leros as tolerable and meaningful as possible.

In addition to our educational and recreational services at the HUB, our organisation is the main provider of clothes for the residents of the camp. Every three to four months we distribute a mixture of second-hand and new clothes to the residents of the Hotspot. Our volunteers put in hundreds of hours in preparation for this: receiving, sorting, counting 10,000+ items of clothing, heavy lifting and transportation of boxes from the warehouse to the distribution point (our "boutique") to provide a choice of clothes to men, women and children. This also requires the HUB and all its programs to be shut down for two weeks, to make time and space for this major logistical operation, involving a lot of driving (over 450 km) to transport residents to and from the distribution, working with a tightly timed schedule and allocated slot-system.  Having just completed one of these distributions, we are already in the midst of organising the next distribution of warm jackets and shoes to prepare the residents for the cold winter months.

What else is new? We finally managed to formalize our IT- classes by offering their completion with an IT-certificate - ECDL and Equal Skills. We are putting the final touches to the second edition of 'ZINE', an intercultural art and literature magazine created by residents and volunteers. Three of our most talented HUB students have enrolled in a full University scholarship at Deree College in Athens. Some of our students have found employment with international organisations, working as translators. And the ECHO-team keeps growing! We are constantly surrounded and supported by the most dedicated and hardworking volunteers, without whom we would not be able to continue our work. And thanks to our stable professional staff we keep providing quality teaching and certificates to those who aspire to receive them. 

Thank you, team, and thank you, donors, for your ongoing support and solidarity! 


Attachments:
    Nov 12, 2018

    We keep on going!

    Dear GG -Team, Generous Donors and Supporters!

    Since our last report from mid-August, the refugee population on the island of Leros has risen from 782 to 992. Newcomers are either referrals from other overcrowded island camps (the Hotspots) orchestrated by the authorities or direct arrivals from Turkey by boat. Proof enough, that the refugee crisis is still ongoing, even if much of the world’s attention has shifted elsewhere. The infamous Hotspots - located on the Greek islands close to the Turkish border - remain, despite regular public outcries and promises of relief, outrageously overcrowded, tolerating inhumane living conditions for thousands of refugees and asylum seekers.

    By running our HUB at full steam, we try our best to improve the lives of the people in our care and defuse a potentially critical situation on the island of Leros. The attendance of students at the HUB remains at full capacity. We have recently said goodbye to some of our long-term students who, after many months of waiting, received clearance to leave the island for the mainland and a new future. Unfortunately, we also witnessed several deportations of people whose asylum applications had been rejected. We register new students for our language, IT- and other educational and recreational classes every day.

    The ECHO-team remains committed to its mission to make the lives of refugees stranded on Leros as tolerable and meaningful as possible. In addition to our educational and recreational services at the HUB, our organisation is the main provider of clothes for the residents of the camp. Every three to four months we distribute a mixture of second-hand and new clothes to the residents of the Hotspot. Our volunteers put in hundreds of hours in preparation for this: receiving, sorting, counting 10,000+ items of clothing, heavy lifting and transportation of boxes from the warehouse to the distribution point (our "boutique") to provide a choice of clothes to men, women and children.This also requires the HUB and all its programs to be shut down for two weeks, to make time and space for this major logistical operation, involving a lot of driving (over 450 km) to transport residents to and from the distribution, working with a tightly timed schedule and allocated slot-system. Having just completed one of these distributions, we are already in the midst of organising the next distribution of warm jackets and shoes to prepare the residents for the cold winter months.

    What else is new? We finally managed to formalize our IT- classes by offering their completion with an IT-certificate - ECDL and Equal Skills. We are putting the final touches to the second edition of 'ZINE', an intercultural art and literature magazine created by residents and volunteers. Three of our most talented HUB students have enrolled in a full University scholarship at Deree College in Athens. Some of our students have found employment with international organisations, working as translators. And the ECHO-team keeps growing! We are constantly surrounded and supported by the most dedicated and hardworking volunteers, without whom we would not be able to continue our work. And thanks to our stable professional staff we keep providing quality teaching and certificates to those who aspire to receive them.

    Thank you, team, and thank you, donors, for your ongoing support and solidarity!

     
    WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.