Empower Refugees To Build A New Life In Athens

by We Need Books
Empower Refugees To Build A New Life In Athens
Empower Refugees To Build A New Life In Athens
Empower Refugees To Build A New Life In Athens
Empower Refugees To Build A New Life In Athens
Empower Refugees To Build A New Life In Athens
Empower Refugees To Build A New Life In Athens
Empower Refugees To Build A New Life In Athens
Empower Refugees To Build A New Life In Athens
Dear friends,

Since May, we have been very busy! But the most important thing is that the library is open and people are coming. We have up to 15 visits a day, which is pretty much the maximum number of visitors that are allowed in at the same time due to COVID-19 government restrictions.

After one particular visit we received the most heartwarming communication from two social workers, which we would like to share with you:

"We had the opportunity to visit and get to know better the We Need Books Library and Community Centre, the organization and its people, as part of our work in a shelter which supports and protects abused refugee women.

Our constant goal and preoccupation is to introduce and familiarize the women with important entities and organizations in the city in order to contribute as much as possible  in a holistic and meaningful integration and empowerment for themselves and their children.

In our search for such synergies, we learned about WNB, which operates in the center of Athens.

The people of WNB throughout our communication demonstrated admirable professionalism and were from our first contact open and willing to organize a visit that would be meaningful to the women of the shelter and their children.

When we visited the space we realized that it is a living and accessible point of reference in the city where refugees, migrants, visitors and local Athenians meet to participate in the various activities that it offers; reading different types of books in many languages, language lessons, relaxing in the backyard or the sofas, creative play in the specially designed corner of the library and a plethora of cultural activities. The women from our shelter immediately felt welcomed and promised that they would return.

After our collaboration with WNB, it’s our strongly held opinion that the Library/Community Centre constitutes an original and much needed project that is coordinated by caring, mobilized, and able people. Despite the short time it has been in the area, it has already become an inseparable and most valuable part of the community of Kypseli and the center of Athens in general. It's a project that not only deserves to continue, but which, if it’s gone, it would deprive professionals and activists of a dynamic tool in their arsenal and would strip the city of a space that is truly open and constructive for everyone without any barriers and discrimination."
It was with your support that the dream of Greece's first multilingual library materialised and we are forever grateful! We hope you will remain by the side of We Need Books so that together we can continue to offer valuable services to the refugee community in Athens. 
In solidarity,
Ioanna Nisyriou
Managing Director and Co-founder
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Posing with teacher and hard earned certificates!
Posing with teacher and hard earned certificates!

Dear friends, 

Thank you for your support. We are delighted to share with you news of our students' success!

All five of our students passed the official A2 language exam and have in their hands a certificate that testifies to their dedication and commitment to learn Greek and become active members of the community!

S. is Syrian, married, with five children and has been in Greece for 18 years. Family life and helping her husband with their shop took up all her time and energy. When she saw the announcement for our lessons, she decided it was about time she did something for herself. She enrolled in our class and never missed a lesson. She did her homework in the shop and in-between choirs. When her daughter’s school teacher noticed that that her Greek had improved, she felt so proud she immediately called her teacher, Georgia Fountoulaki, to share her enthusiasm and thank her.  

Georgia would ask the group to meet fifteen minutes early, have some tea and share all the day's joys and frustrations. During the lockdown we couldn't have any lessons in the library and this loss of physical, personal contact came at a great cost to our students. For the women the lessons were their time away from home, their opportunity to socialize. For the men it was a way out of the confined spaces they are living and a step forward in the process of integration.

The day of the exam all were very nervous but Georgia was there to offer her support. When the results came, everyone was thrilled beyond words and eager to know when the B1 class would begin! 

This, dear friends, depends on you, too. 

Although the demand for Greek lessons is very high among refugees and migrants, We Need Books insists on having small groups of students where personal relationships can be built. As the every day reality of our students' lives is a very harsh one, and often comes in the way of their education, it is only in a warm, supportive environment that they can really thrive. And thrive they did!

For We Need Books to be able to offer quality services, we need to compensate qualified teachers for their time, provide educational materials to all students for free and be able to cover their exam fees. For this group of five students, all costs were covered by GlobalGiving and by your individual donations. 

So on behalf of S., N., G., M., M., Georgia and the whole We Need Books team, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR ONGOING SUPPORT! Your contributions really transform the lives of refugees and migrants in Greece!

In solidarity,

Ioanna Nissiriou

Managing Director & Cofounder

We Need Books

Class visit to the Museum of Illusions!
Class visit to the Museum of Illusions!
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Children at the new library in Moria#2
Children at the new library in Moria#2

Dear friends,

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.

During these tumultuous times it is easy to feel stunned and helpless. But it is precisely now that we should be gaining strength from our beliefs and values and stand tall in their defense.

Education is the cornerstone of the world we imagine is possible. It is the gateway to democracy, peace, equality and prosperity. In our part of the world, access to education has taken a beating because of the pandemic but it is worst for the refugees in the camps who have been completely cut off from any access to education. The children cannot go to school and cannot participate in the online lessons as they do not have the equipment, privacy or access to electricity for great parts of the day. There is nothing for them or the adults to do, nothing that would help them rebuild their lives in the future or to even to dream about their lives in the future.

As you know, books that we had sent last summer to the library in Moria refugee camp were burnt in the fire that destroyed the entire camp. A couple of months ago we launched a microproject to buy books for the children and adults in the camps, in their native languages. Although we have not reached our goal yet, today we placed the first order for $1,000 worth of Arabic books. The next order will be for books in Farsi and the one after that for Urdu books. We are in touch with groups of refugees in the different camps and they are expecting them to start their own little libraries. We know the books will be well looked after, as we know how precious they are to those who have missed them so.

We also launched our Adopt a Book program on our website and social media, which is another way to gather support for Athens' first and only multilingual library and to spread awareness about the plight of refugees in Greece. 

There is so much to do and we often feel overwhelmed. I assure you, we never lose sight of our goal and we will never give up fighting for the right of free access to education for refugees and migrants. 

There are so many open wounds in the world right now, we know you feel them too. That is why we cannot stress enough how appreciative we are of your continuous support for our cause.

We wish you health and happiness for 2021 or you and your loved ones. 

 

With solidarity,

Ioanna Nisyriou

We Need Books

Managing Director & Co-founder

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Cataloguing in the time of the pandemic
Cataloguing in the time of the pandemic

Dear friends,

 

We hope you and your loved ones are well. 

These are difficult times for all of us. The pandemic keeps spreading but life needs to be lived, and libraries need to serve their communities. We Need Books Multilingual Library and Community Center is open to the public again. Having said that, we are taking every precaution to keep our beneficiaries, volunteers and staff safe. The space is open to the public only three days a week, for four hours. Lessons take place outside those hours and class participation has been limited to four students only. Everyone is requested to wear a mask at all times and antiseptics are available on every surface. 

As of July, a new member has joined our team, thanks to a grant we received from the Ioannis S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. Eleni, our librarian, is cataloguing our collection and developing a lending system, which is needed now more than ever. The goal is to have a lending library of 1,000 books in at least five languages by March 2021. Our student, Abdala, is helping us with the cataloguing of the Arabic books. When our catalogue goes online it will be much easier for our Arabic speaking friends from the camps to find books they are interested in.

In October we will be launching an Adopt A Book fundraising initiative, to which, of course, we will be inviting you to participate! 

In the beginning of the summer we sent several boxes of books to the library and school refugees built inside Moria in Lesvos. Everything that was there has now turned to ashes after three days of fires that destroyed Europe's largest refugee camp. Today is the 8th day that over 12,000 asylum seekers are living on the street, with children and babies, very little food and water and no protection against COVID 19. The situation is chaotic and it is not clear how one can help from afar. If, however, you want to contribute to the efforts made by local organizations to feed, clothe and protect the refugees, we are more than happy to put you in touch with our partner organizations on the island. As I said, these are difficult times for all of us, but for some they have become unbearable. 

 

Until we reach out to you to Adopt A Book, stay safe and stay positive.

With solidarity,

Ioanna Nisyriou

We Need Books

Managing Director & Co-founder

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Keeping distances in our meeting.
Keeping distances in our meeting.

Dear friends,

This has been a difficult time for all of us, and we hope you and your family are managing to stay safe and healthy despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the beginning of March, We Need Books' Multilingual Library / Community Centre was full of people and our calendar full of events; three to four language classes a day, our weekly cafe for language practice, school homework support for local children, music workshops, storytelling and people who came just to read books in their own language or have a friendly chat. We had interviews planned for the post of librarian (we received a small grant so we can actually hire one!). We had planned projects aiming to reach more refugees in the community and a list of good ideas that would further improve the Library services.

Then the pandemic made its way into everyone's lives. We stopped everything and went into lockdown. A large number of people who visit the library come from crowded camps or have health issues and almost all are vulnerable. It was our responsibility to keep everyone safe, beneficiaries, staff and volunteers, so we shut immediately, even before the official date. 

During the lockdown we tried to stand by our community by sharing reliable information about protection against COVID 19 through our social media, in several languages. We regularly uploaded links to books in Arabic or Farsi that could keep company to our friends in the refugee shelters. We tried our best to keep communication alive between our beneficieries and volunteers, using ways that we were not familiar with. We are all for personal contact, it was very challenging for us to switch to video calls.

It was even more challenging to move the lessons to an online platform. In the end that didn't work at all. Our students are refugees and migrants and not all of them have laptops or reliable internet access or even a quiet place where they live to participate in an online class. Georgia, who is in charge of our educational programmes and also teaches Greek, would email homework to her students and then call them one by one on their mobile phones to go through questions, give feedback and most of all, check that they were ok and make sure they understood the measures imposed by the government.

Effective May 4th the government is gradually lifting the lockdown. Although Greece has fared quite effectively in containing the pandemic crisis the danger is still present.

So where are we now? We got a donation from a private school of masks and antiseptics for the library. We are regularly meeting with other organizations in the area to see how we can support each other and support the communities we serve. We opened the library, staff and volunteers only, to have our meetings and discuss the best ways to move forward. And when we are there, someone will always knock on our door and ask if we are open. We invite them in to read for the duration of our meeting. You cannot say "no" to someone who needs a book and a place to be!

We don't know exactly how we will navigate through these times, but we are cautiously optimistic and doing the best we can to be where we are needed and to keep everyone safe.

Lastly, on behalf of the entire We Need Books team I would like to thank the GlobalGiving team and our donors. We are grateful for the support you have provided us during this challenging times. 

We hope you and your loved stay healthy and safe!

Ioanna Nisyriou & Nadir Noori

Founders of We Need Books

Georgia correcting homework during lockdown.
Georgia correcting homework during lockdown.
The prototype of the masks that were donated to us
The prototype of the masks that were donated to us
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

We Need Books

Location: Athens, Attica - Greece
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Ioanna Nisyriou
Athens, Attica Greece
$26,017 raised of $60,000 goal
 
322 donations
$33,983 to go
Donate Now
lock
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

We Need Books has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

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.