Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece

by Echo for Refugees
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Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece
Get a mobile library to refugee camps in Greece

Project Report | Feb 1, 2024
a busy end of 2023 for ECHO mobile library

By Becka | Project Coordinator

learning the colours of the rainbow
learning the colours of the rainbow

Greetings dear friends and supporters. We hope that 2024 is treating you well.  At the library we have the winter chills somewhat and are counting the days until spring appears. 

Autumn passed so quickly for us. The library has been buzzing consistently in a way we have not seen for a while, with positive energy, plenty of books loans, reading, painting and music. The heatwave of the summer subsided to a comfortable temperature around the end of September which made our sessions a lot easier to run.

As many of you might appreciate the past few months have been difficult to comprehend. We have been witnessing the assault on Gaza from Greece with horror and condemn in the strongest terms the Israeli government's continued murder of men, women and children in Gaza, the targeted destruction of homes, hospitals, schools, religious sites and historical monuments, its strategic arrest and detention of thousands of people and its support of the extremist settler movement which has been emboldened to cause a huge escalation in violence and terror perpetrated against Palestinians in the West Bank. As a 'response' to the Hamas attacks on 7th October it is completely disproportionate.

As librarians, historians and people working in solidarity with people from the West Asian region we find it heartbreaking to see the uninterrupted structural and institutionalised racism, hypocrisy and double standards of our supposedly civilised governments as they continue to stand by the Israeli government as they perpetrate war crimes. Many of our librarians have taken to the streets many times in the past few months to condemn what is happening, alongside people of all faiths and nationalities. We stand united against the indiscriminate destruction of Palestinian homes, collective punishment, murder and terror.  

Whilst we may feel powerless to change some things going on in the world we continue to do the best we can in our context here with the library in Greece. With our annual report almost complete it seems this year we loaned a litte over 1000 books, most of them since September. In the last four months of the year alone we also distributed more than 1100 language learning resources, for people trying to get ahead in learning English, German, Greek and, the surprise of the year, Dutch. Two thirds of those who borrow books are under the age of 25, a slight majority are male. The languages of the books most loaned were Arabic (32%), Farsi (29%), English (24%) then smaller numbers of Turkish, French and Kurmanji/Sorani. Many users have kept us on our toes locating requests and resources. Whilst these take time and are sometimes fruitless searches, it is good to see the library being used so much. 

Our runaway success was the start of our sessions at Thiva, a camp we had been unable to visit before due to our timetable. We also started up library sessions at Oinofyta camp once again, where we could reconnect with friends who had been transferred there after being evicted from their own self-organised camp in Lavrio in July. Residents from there are, unsurprisingly, not happy about the living conditions, complaining about the lack of services, distance from Athens and lack of autonomy. These are the same complaints that everyone has about all the camps, the same things we have been hearing for six years now. When we announced our first session at Oinofyta with them in September it was hard to work out who was happier to see one another, us or them!

We finished off the year with a special event in coordination with several other solidarity groups based in Athens. On 26th December we all headed out to Oinofyta camp, to the space about 5 minutes from the camp which is large, empty and not near a busy road full of fast-moving lorries. This is where we normally run our sessions. On this day however we brought more: one group cooked fresh food and provided endless cups of tea, a friend fried pakoras on a gas stove for almost 3 hours solid, Kurdish Iraqi friends from Malakasa played beautiful music in the winter sun whilst other residents queued up to collect clothing, children played games on the library rugs and a couple of us painted the faces of countless children. Spiderman continues to be the favourite. 

It was a truly beautiful way to end the year and was a reminder of how much a small library team can achieve with the willpower and support of others. One women said, "I cannot believe you brought all of this just for us. Thankyou from the bottom of my heart." It served as a reminder for us as that ECHO is just a small part of a much larger network of humans who share the same values and who understand the importance of coming together to celebrate being human on a bright winter's day. 

As we go into 2024 with the goal of continuing our library work with open hearts and full energy.  To repeat the words of our friend in Oinofyta: thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support. We hope that you can continue to support ECHO's library journey into 2024 and beyond.

community day at Oinofyta
community day at Oinofyta
looking at the books
looking at the books
Tulsi on the rug
Tulsi on the rug
story time at Ritsona
story time at Ritsona
a note of approval from a library user
a note of approval from a library user

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Sep 27, 2023
ECHO's summer of 2023

By Becka | project coordinator

May 24, 2023
ECHO - for community

By Becka | Project Coordinator

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Organization Information

Echo for Refugees

Location: Athens - Greece
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @refugeelibrary
Project Leader:
Giulio D'errico
Athens , Greece

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