First of all, we would like to wish you a happy, healthy, loving, and peaceful New Year!
We celebrated the holidays on Lesvos with the residents of Kara Tepe and the Olive Grove, as well as the local Greek people. It was wonderful to see the two communities come together like this, and it has given us lots of energy and motivation to continue our work in 2019!
In the final months of 2018, many refugees were transferred from the camps on Lesvos to the mainland of Greece, whilst at the same time many new people arrived by boat from Turkey. This is still the case now, which means that the makeup of the camps constantly changes. With our Syrian Women Empowerment Program then, we are trying to give the women of Kara Tepe, both those that have just arrived and the ones who have been a familiar face for a long time, a sense of continuance and security. Our community centre provides them with a safe space, to relax, to laugh, to spend time with each other, and to learn new skills.
At the moment, we organise several activities specifically for women. There are women’s computer classes and girls’ football trainings (with female residents of Kara Tepe as their trainers/coaches). But our favourite evening of the week is Wednesday, when we hold a ladies’ night. On ladies’ night, we invite all the women from the camp to the community centre and play songs from their home countries, in Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, and English. Some just watch and listen, others sing along, but most women end up dancing!
The ladies’ night is very special and important to us. It is a way to reach the women who are unlikely to join our other programs, because they feel uncomfortable being in a room together with men or do not speak English. It also breaks down the language barrier which often separates the women; for one song, we all understand each other. Last Wednesday evening for example, an Afghani grandmother danced together with her granddaughter to the Dutch song ‘Leef’ by André Hazes. This is the song we end every ladies’ night with, and by now, almost every woman in Kara Tepe knows it!
It is with your donations that we can keep these activities running, so on behalf of us and all the women taking part in the Syrian Women Empowerment Program, thank you!
Team Movement on the Ground