Greece currently hosts about 200,000 refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom have experienced severe trauma and/or count as "highly vulnerable." State support for this population eroded over the past several years. In Ritsona, half the population is no longer eligible to receive food, inducing some parents to keep their kids home from school to sleep longer and stave off hunger. Meanwhile, the recent construction of prison-like walls and security gates has taken a mental toll on residents.
Since 2016, Lighthouse Relief has run dedicated safe spaces for children aged 3-14, youth aged 15-25, and women within the camp. Within each space, we offer a wide range of sports, creative, educational, and recreational activities that serve to release stress, build confidence, learn tolerance for other cultures, and more. Our trauma-informed support is a vital form of relief in this highly stressful setting where access to school is intermittent and few are allowed to work.
Lighthouse Relief fosters a friendly, supportive environment where refugees can access a community and build resilience. Beyond offering opportunities for creative self-expression, learning new skills, and socialization, this project prepares people for eventual integration into their host societies. For example, some kids volunteer with our team upon turning 18, and when they can leave camp, they go work for NGOs supporting refugees because they want to give back while building their lives.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).