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Self-Defense and Yoga for Refugee Women on Lesvos

by Starfish Foundation
Self-Defense and Yoga for Refugee Women on Lesvos
Self-Defense and Yoga for Refugee Women on Lesvos
Self-Defense and Yoga for Refugee Women on Lesvos
Self-Defense and Yoga for Refugee Women on Lesvos
Self-Defense and Yoga for Refugee Women on Lesvos
Self-Defense and Yoga for Refugee Women on Lesvos
Self-Defense and Yoga for Refugee Women on Lesvos
Self-Defense and Yoga for Refugee Women on Lesvos

Thank you for your support of our project. We are immensely grateful for your donations, which have enabled us to empower women living on Lesvos through self-defense and yoga classes.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we temporarily suspended operations in order to protect our volunteers, staff, and participants. We used this time to plan how we could continue to provide our services in a safe way upon reopening. We want to assure our donors that the money raised so far for this project has been reserved for when operations resume.

We are now excited to announce that we will be restarting our program. We will be taking strict precautions to ensure that participants and facilitators are kept safe by implementing social distancing, providing masks and sanitizer, and utilizing outdoor space when possible. In addition, we will continue to vigilantly monitor the situation and adapt as needed.

Starting in September (COVID-19 permitting), our two teachers will be leading a 7-week course. These classes offer women more than instruction on physical self-defense; they build emotional self-confidence by exploring boundary-setting, communication strategies, and other coping mechanisms for the challenging situations they face inside and out of the camp.

With your support, we are hoping to make our program available on an ongoing basis and to expand our services to other vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied minors.

We thank you again for your help in allowing us to provide these critical services to women and other vulnerable populations on Lesvos.  

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Stay Safe and Wash Hands
Stay Safe and Wash Hands

Dear all,


First of all we want to thank all of you for the warm support we received and all the donations! With so many different causes and ways to spend your money, we are honoured that you selected to support our project. We are grateful to have you as a part of our team. Your support has enabled us to offer regular classes inside of Moria refugee camp, which every week allowed us to empower more and more women. 


Unfortunately, due to the current situation (COVID-19), we are forced to temporarily suspend our 'Self Defence & Empowerment Program'. We hope to continue as soon as possible, but for now, we have to take the necessary measures and focus on keeping our volunteers and staff, but also all the people inside the camp safe. This means our project page will be temporarily stopped.

The money collected for this project will be kept and reserved until we start up again. To all our donors who have a regular donation, we would like to reassure you that it will be held for this project until we restart. If want to suspend your payment you may do so


Again, thank you all for your support and donations and we hope to see you soon when we reopen our program! If you want to keep in touch please follow Starfish Foundation on Facebook, Instagram, or through our website:


With warm regards,


Team Starfish

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Yoga a big part of what we are doing this year at Starfish.

The classes are held both in OpenSpace, Mytilene and at our container inside the Moria Camp.

Our yoga classes give the participants a chance to relax and escape from the stresses of living in the overcrowded Moria camp.

In order for people to attend the classes in Mytilene Starfish provides bus tickets to all the participants and your help and support allows these popular classes to thrive and continue.

With more people arriving on the Island of Lesvos every week, the importance of activities increases – as is the need for your support.

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A taste of our yearly report on what we have been doing. For more details click on the link to read our whole newsletter. Don't forget to grab a cup of coffee as it is a long one


The self-defence training for refugee women in Moria was very successful. Women are one of the most vulnerable groups inside the camp and often the victim of sexual harassment and violence. Starfish’s goal was to provide them with the necessary strategies to protect themselves.  Building on the women’s shared experience, the programme taught them how to defend themselves not only physically but also emotionally, learning to set boundaries, increasing their self-confidence and explore different coping strategies. The women's response to the training has been overwhelmingly positive.


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Practicing their new skills
Practicing their new skills

We are very happy to announce that a new group of (young) women finished the ‘Self-Defense and Empowerment Program’ last week! For the past 5 weeks they came to the class with an amazing enthusiasm, curiosity, but most of all a lot of motivation. The motivation to learn about defending themselves (physical and emotionally), to learn about ways to deal with the challenging circumstances and finding ways to increase their self-confidence, setting boundaries and finding their inner power.

One of the first students that finished the course, is the 22 year old Afghan woman, Nazanin. From the start of the course she was one of the most enthusiastic students. She was never afraid to share her story, struggles and her insecurities. By opening up she was inspiring all the other (young) women in the group and motivating them to empower each other by sharing their experiences and helping each other.

Nazanin: "In the past I wasn't able to defend myself and I was scared for a lot of things. Always someone had to come with me. Sometimes people told me I cannot do something, or that I am ugly.. I couldn't defend my emotions, my beliefs, myself. It is very awful for a girl to not have self-confidence. But now I have a very good self-confidence, because I can defend myself physically and emotionally. I have a suggestion for all women and girls: please try it! Learn about defending your emotions, your body, your beliefs. Love yourself!"

I am very proud of all these young women that were willing to come every week, full of questions and eager to learn. Proud of all these young women that were opening up every week more and more and willing to share their stories, insecurities and anxieties, to learn from each other, help and empower each other! 

To continue our project, and support more women and girls, we can really use your help. By supporting us with a donation we can make sure we can continue our classes inside Moria Camp and even expend our classes to Mytilene centre, to reach more women and girls!

Thank you!

Nazanin and Yeganeh received their certificates!
Nazanin and Yeganeh received their certificates!
"Stay away!"
"Stay away!"


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Organization Information

Starfish Foundation

Location: Mythimna, Lesvos - Greece
Project Leader:
Melinda McRostie
Mythimna, Lesvos Greece
$24,917 raised of $24,500 goal
319 donations
$0 to go
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