Thank you for your continued support for our self defense and yoga project, and your patience as we manage the ever-changing restrictions related to COVID-19.
In our last update, we announced that we would be restarting our self-defense and yoga classes within Moria camp in September 2020. However, as many of you will be aware- on September 8th, a fire tore through Moria camp which left nearly 13,000 people without shelter. In the aftermath of this devastating incident, our classes could not go ahead as planned.
In October/November 2020, we faced further delays to restarting our project when Greece entered another nation-wide lockdown. The lockdown has meant that freedom of movement for residents of the new RIC Lesvos camp has been restricted further. We wanted to assure you that despite everything that is going on in Lesvos, and around the world at the moment, we are working to safely restart our self-defense and yoga classes for refugee women.
We have been blown away by your support, and having reached our fundraising goal, we feel it is time to close this campaign -- and send you all an update about what your generous donations have been used for and where the remaining money will go.
In the two years since we started our self-defense and yoga classes, we have distributed over 2350 free bus tickets to women in the camp who came along to either our self-defense or yoga classes in Mytilene, we have organised classes inside Moria camp, and within our own OpenSpace building, and have overseen the training of 13 women to become qualified self-defense and empowerment teachers. Our first self-defense course, conducted in 2018 by ESD Global trainer Anat Errel, taught 70 women, coming from 16 different countries, in 7 different languages-- and one class was held specifically for a group of unaccompanied minors living in Moria’s “SafeZone”. The feedback Anat received conveyed the significance of the classes for the women who took part:
- “I learned that in any situation I should be careful, but not afraid”
- “I learned I can say NO without giving excuses”
- “The course made me happy, and I learned to be strong and safe”
In February 2019, we organised a weekend of self-defense classes with another certified instructor. Over 60 participants took part in this course, developing vital skills and learning how empowered self-defense can act as the key violence prevention strategy for women and vulnerable populations. Weekly classes followed and were held at the“One Happy Family” hub on Lesvos; around 10 participants attended each week.
In the time before the coronavirus reached our shores here on Lesvos, we were holding regular self-defense and yoga classes (both within Moria camp and at OpenSpace) ensuring that the classes remained accessible for all women who sought to understand the skills involved in self-defense, and the benefits of yoga for both body and mind. Four self-defense classes a week were being held in the camp, right up until Greece entered its first COVID-19 related lockdown. It has been a long eight months, but this time of restrictions and coronavirus related closures has allowed us to plan for the months ahead, and we cannot wait to restart our empowerment self-defense programme and yoga classes for those who wish to join us.
We aim to use the remaining funding to restart the project after the lockdown ends here in Greece. The project will run on a 2 classes per week basis, with one class being held in our OpenSpace building, and one class being held within the new “RIC Lesvos” camp. These classes will follow the same structure as before, but the self-defense classes will place a greater focus on training refugee women to become certified trainers of the course- allowing them to build their confidence, increase their skill set, and teach this important service to others.
We thank you so much for your help in allowing us to provide these critical services to women and other vulnerable populations on Lesvos, and if you want to stay updated with our self-defense and yoga classes, and our work in general, you can do so by following our social media accounts here:
Sending our heartfelt thanks to you all.
The Starfish Team on Lesvos