May 19, 2021

1275 books given out!


Let us introduce you to some of our library team working in the RIC Lesvos camp: meet Habib, Mega, Sajad, and Arnold (pictured above).

The smooth running of our library project within the camp would not be possible without the support of our team of resident volunteers. Managing the library station each weekday, they ensure that access to books and learning materials are available to those living in the camp, and are on hand to help people register onto the library system, process library cards, and hand out book orders. 

With their support we have been able to register nearly 400 people onto our library system so far and give out 1275 books in the camp. The items being checked out range from novels, language learning books, poetry collections, DIY based books and everything in between. 

As we mentioned in our last report, the demand for Farsi (Persian) - English books remains high. The latest figures from UNHCR note that 70% of the camp’s population are from Afghanistan, and therefore, Farsi is one of the most widely spoken languages within RIC Lesvos. Due to this, we placed an order for 150 additional Farsi books.

As always, we send a massive thank you for your ongoing support, and if you all could share this project with friends and family to spread awareness of our library project on Lesvos, we would be incredibly grateful.

We will be in touch again soon with more updates! 

The Starfish team

Mar 26, 2021

Our first update!

Dear friends,

It has been a few weeks since we launched a campaign to provide access to our multilingual library to all those living in Lesvos, Greece- and we thought we would send you all an update!

Firstly, on behalf of all of us here at Starfish Foundation, we want to say a massive thank you to you all for your generosity. Your contributions have helped us raise over €5,000 for the project, which means we are nearly at the halfway mark of our fundraising goal!

As many of you will know, we wanted to ensure that the books, learning materials, and games we have within our library would also be available to the roughly 6,700 people living in the main refugee camp on the island, whose freedom of movement is severely restricted. We were able to start the library service in the camp this week- with over 70 residents registering for library cards and ordering books, and we are in the process of ordering more Persian (Farsi) books as the demand is so high: this was all made possible thanks to the generous contributions you made to our GlobalGiving fundraiser.

To give you an idea of how the system works: our station in the camp is managed by volunteers who are on hand to explain the process and register people into the library system. Once the orders are placed, our Starfish team in Mytilene gets the books ready to bring into the camp the following day for pick up. The library station is open Monday-Friday, 10.30 am-2 pm.

We will continue to engage our networks and partners because the more money we raise means the more resources we can share with those living on Lesvos, and if you could also share the project with friends/family we would be incredibly grateful. Additionally, we will continue to update you as our library project develops on the ground here on Lesvos but if you have any questions about it please do reach out to us.

Sending heartfelt thanks to you all for your continued support and wishing you a lovely weekend.

The Starfish team 

Dec 4, 2020

Our final report- thank you for your support!

Thank you for your continued support for our self defense and yoga project, and your patience as we manage the ever-changing restrictions related to COVID-19. 

In our last update, we announced that we would be restarting our self-defense and yoga classes within Moria camp in September 2020. However, as many of you will be aware- on September 8th, a fire tore through Moria camp which left nearly 13,000 people without shelter. In the aftermath of this devastating incident, our classes could not go ahead as planned. 

In October/November 2020, we faced further delays to restarting our project when Greece entered another nation-wide lockdown. The lockdown has meant that freedom of movement for residents of the new RIC Lesvos camp has been restricted further. We wanted to assure you that despite everything that is going on in Lesvos, and around the world at the moment, we are working to safely restart our self-defense and yoga classes for refugee women. 

We have been blown away by your support, and having reached our fundraising goal, we feel it is time to close this campaign -- and send you all an update about what your generous donations have been used for and where the remaining money will go.  

In the two years since we started our self-defense and yoga classes, we have distributed over 2350 free bus tickets to women in the camp who came along to either our self-defense or yoga classes in Mytilene, we have organised classes inside Moria camp, and within our own OpenSpace building, and have overseen the training of 13 women to become qualified self-defense and empowerment teachers. Our first self-defense course, conducted in 2018 by ESD Global trainer Anat Errel, taught 70 women, coming from 16 different countries, in 7 different languages-- and one class was held specifically for a group of unaccompanied minors living in Moria’s “SafeZone”. The feedback Anat received conveyed the significance of the classes for the women who took part:

  • “I learned that in any situation I should be careful, but not afraid”
  • “I learned I can say NO without giving excuses”
  • “The course made me happy, and I learned to be strong and safe”

In February 2019, we organised a weekend of self-defense classes with another certified instructor. Over 60 participants took part in this course, developing vital skills and learning how empowered self-defense can act as the key violence prevention strategy for women and vulnerable populations. Weekly classes followed and were held at the“One Happy Family” hub on Lesvos; around 10 participants attended each week.   

In the time before the coronavirus reached our shores here on Lesvos, we were holding regular self-defense and yoga classes (both within Moria camp and at OpenSpace) ensuring that the classes remained accessible for all women who sought to understand the skills involved in self-defense, and the benefits of yoga for both body and mind. Four self-defense classes a week were being held in the camp, right up until Greece entered its first COVID-19 related lockdown. It has been a long eight months, but this time of restrictions and coronavirus related closures has allowed us to plan for the months ahead, and we cannot wait to restart our empowerment self-defense programme and yoga classes for those who wish to join us. 

We aim to use the remaining funding to restart the project after the lockdown ends here in Greece. The project will run on a 2 classes per week basis, with one class being held in our OpenSpace building, and one class being held within the new “RIC Lesvos” camp. These classes will follow the same structure as before, but the self-defense classes will place a greater focus on training refugee women to become certified trainers of the course- allowing them to build their confidence, increase their skill set, and teach this important service to others. 

We thank you so much for your help in allowing us to provide these critical services to women and other vulnerable populations on Lesvos, and if you want to stay updated with our self-defense and yoga classes, and our work in general, you can do so by following our social media accounts here: 

Sending our heartfelt thanks to you all. 

The Starfish Team on Lesvos 

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