It has been over one year since the global pandemic was announced, one year since it became much harder to provide any kind of support much needed in emergency situations. This time last year, we were unsure of how the current pandemic would affect us. One year on, we have learnt a lot, and are now confident that we are able to continue providing our services as best we can. Closures and reopenings are becoming the new norm however this didn’t and won’t stop us.
During the first half of this quarter, the lockdown was still a reality in Greece, following strict measures such as early curfews and the closure of schools. But, we continued to adapt, react, and support as much as possible by offering alternative services despite the regulations and legal challenges we faced.
In Samos, we continued supporting educational activities for young children inside the camp. We also gave Banana House a brand new make-over! A new look that would later mark the next chapter as we finally were able to fully reopen our centre in the second half of this quarter.
In Chios, due to the increase in speed of processing asylum-seeking cases, we continued providing our free photography service for ID cards and the printing of documents. Adapting to Covid-19 restrictions and opening regulations, made us accustomed to the existing reality by modifying our services. We temporarily taught English in the camp to provide education access to those unable to leave it and Mastic Campus offered limited English classes but access to the most essentials such as hygiene, laundry, showers, and nutritious food thanks to our brand new kitchen.
In Athens, we saw the opening of The Nest project where we increased our outreach not only to young children but to also provide services, information, and non-formal education to parents and guardians.
Whilst we have come to grasps with working under Covid-19, this quarter has also continued to be plagued with unrest surrounding the emptying of the island camps. With a combination of moving asylum seekers and refugees off the islands and onto the mainland to continue their cases and the low number of arrivals due to the continued use of pushbacks, it is uncertain how the island camps will look later this year. Although new camps are becoming more prominent, the living conditions and standards have not improved. There is still a lack of suitable housing, scarcity of food and water, and human rights are still violated on a very regular basis.
For us, this quarter has seemed more promising in some ways. Although it hasn’t been easy, we will continue to provide support and comfort the best we can under such precarious circumstances.