| Mar 28, 2023
Finding new ways of supporting the people of Ritsona
Basketball training with Greek and Ritsona kids
This report period began as usual with more women frequenting our female friendly space, teens training on the volleyball team, and toddlers clamouring to play together in the Little Lighthouse. However, in mid-January, we received notice that we would lose access to the camp at the end of the week. After seven years of continuously providing trauma-informed support people there, it came as a shock.
The decision by the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum applied to many NGOs providing much-needed services to people living in camps across the country. It intends to make it harder for civil society to support people seeking refuge in Greece, reflecting the growing hostility towards refugees. We are doing everything we can to get permission to resume our activities to support the psychosocial well-being of residents during a period of heightened stress.
In the meantime, we support the population as best as we can from outside the camp. Every week we bring kids aged 5-15 from Ritsona to play basketball with Greek peers in the nearby town of Chalkida with a local basketball club. These sessions have been running for one month and receive positive feedback from the kids and their parents. 17 kids attended the first session and 26 the second. After every session more and more families are signing up.
It’s an opportunity for participants to release stress, interact with Greek peers, build confidence, and learn key life skills such as teamwork. Additionally, twice per week, we run activities such as arts and crafts just outside the camp gates. While limited space, proximity to a road, and lack of materials make the setup less ideal than working inside the camp, at least it is a means for us to continue serving residents. We want them to know that we have not abandoned them and will continue to support their well-being however we can.
We are grateful for your support, especially during this difficult transition and period of uncertainty. Because you care about them, the children of Ritsona can still rely on us for support in coping with incredibly challenging circumstances.
Alana Chloe Esposito