Over 5,000 refugees are starting to make their home in Athens. But a home is not just a roof over your head; a home is a caring community, a space where you feel safe and welcomed. Ultimately, it is a place where you can relax and read a book in peace and have a nice cup of tea with your neighbor.
There are over 50,000 refugees in Greece and over 5,000 are now living in central Athens. None of them wanted to claim asylum here, but EU legislation prevents refugees from continuing their journey towards countries that are in a better economic condition than Greece, which is entering its 9th year of economic recession. As a result they have to make a home for themselves in a country they became trapped in and which can offer the bare minimum to help them survive and integrate.
But what we can offer is our hospitality. What we can do is create an inclusive community. And we can do this around books, around a mobile library that is able to visit different schools in central Athens and provide books in Arabic and Farsi -which are not easily available in Greece- as well as in Greek, English and French. Literature, educational, historical, books for children, books about different cultures, books that will make this strange city start feel like home.
Creating these safe spaces in the city for refugees and locals to come together out of their common love for books and their need for free educational resources, free wifi and most of all, their need to connect, will benefit and strengthen the whole community. It is only through human connections that refugees can really be included in this society and we want to create the space that will foster just that; simple, genuine, warm human connections.