By Hannah Starfish Foundation | Self defense weekend for refugee women.
We are pleased to announce that a self-defense weekend for refugee women is taking place in Mytilene town on the island of Lesvos, on the 16th and 17th of February 2019
Margarita Founariotaki from Athens, Greece who is an official International Krav Maga Federation instructor, will be our special guest and teacher.
Women living in refugee camps are enormously vulnerable, because they are a minority surrounded by men with insecure futures : this often causes stress and frustration that is expressed in agression. For this reason Starfish Foundation organises self-defense courses for women only.
During the course the women will learn how to say NO in a clear way, how to be aware of their surroundings and to prevent and respond to specific threats, including emotional, physical and sexual harassment.
Hannah Ulijn has lived in Lesbos for twenty-five years. She is married and the mother of two sons. Since 2008 when the first refugees began arrive on the island, she joined with a group of friends in the village of Molyvos to organise immediate basic help, handing out food, clothes, shoes and blankets. In 2015 at the height of the refugee crisis, she was one of the founding members of Starfish Foundation. Together with a group of enthusiastic volunteers, she organized the distribution of donated items from all over the world. Hannah is now are project manager for the Self-Defense project of Starfish. She states, “This project is needed because the Moria camp is a very frightening place for women, given that the majority of the residents are unaccompanied young men. Our program will teach women how to say ‘no’ to violence and threats of violence.”
My name is Dina, and I have been a member of Starfish Foundation since its creation in October 2015! I have been involved in humanitarian work since 2007, and I find it very rewarding, but at the same time, I have to face difficult issues.
I have felt discriminated against because of my involvement with the refugees. In the past, I was verbally attacked and threatened by someone who didn't like it when I stood up for myself and my work in a discussion about the refugee situation here on the island. It was frightening, and it took me a long time to move forward.
My recent participation in the women’s self-defense course, sponsored by Starfish, not only taught me the skills to defend myself but also made me feel more confident in knowing that is my right to say NO. It was encouraging to see that the women refugees who took part in the course felt the same need to learn how to protect themselves. Moria camp can be a very threatening environment for women, and I am happy that Starfish offered to help them.
The women in my group were mainly from Somalia, and after the initial shyness, everybody started sharing experiences. I couldn't help to think that it doesn't matter what colour, religion, background or status we have. At the end of the day, we are all the same...we all have our fears and hopes, and as women, we all want to feel safe and to be treated with respect and love.
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