Nadir with a group of international volunteers
We are happy to share with you what we've been up to these past few months.
Earlier in the year, it came to our attention that a group of refugee girls who were coming to the library were not attending school. We found out that the reason was their parents' hope that they would soon be relocated to another country and saw learning Greek as a waste of time. In order to ease the girls back into education -they have been out of school for three years!- we organized English classes for them. They never miss a class and they are all smiles the moment they come into the library! Plus they are slowly starting to participate in our other cultural activities for children. I was eavesdropping on their class the other day, hearing how they want to become teachers and doctors and dentists when they grow up and I couldn't believe my ears! Were these the same girls who couldn't speak a word in English a few months back? Their verbal and reading skills have skyrocketed! They are making so much progress!
We have also started a bi-weekly parents' group, and we are organizing therapeutic writing workshops for adults, both coordinated by mental health professionals. We are hosting a weekly Language Cafe for English and Greek practice and we are getting ready to participate in Refugee Week, which is taking place in Greece for the first time this June. We also hosted a group of volunteers from customer.io who, among other things, got our back yard all ready for summer, freshly painted, weeded and planted! And we are delighted to say that over 3,700 books have been added to our lending section and are available to our 127 library members!
But we would be lying if we said the obstacles we have to overcome and the challenges we to have face every day don't get to us from time to time. Usually they have to do with paying the rent and other operational costs. These, however, have been overshadowed by co-founder Nadir's second arrest since the beginning of the year. Nadir has been living in Greece for 20 years as an asylum seeker and he still hasn't been given permanent resident status. His permit needs to be renewed every two years, a procedure which often takes a year, leaving him and thousands of other refugees and migrants with no papers, no right to work, to access to their bank accounts and unprotected against police arrests. It is difficult to talk about social integration of refugees in a meaningful way, when the ground they are building their future on is so shaky.
Thank you for your kindness all this time,