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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

From the 9th to the 15th of May 2019 Starfish Foundation in co-operation with ESD Global organized a self-defense training week for level 1 instructors.

The teachers Anat and Esti did a great job and succeeded in creating an incredible empowering atmosphere. Many new skills were gained and from now on 6 of the 13 participants will teach refugee women of Moria refugee camp on the island.

ESD Global made a short film, showing a glimpse of the training week and we would like to share this with our donors on Global Giving.

Starfish Foundation hereby wants to express her gratitude for this amazing opportunity. 


The training week for self-defense instructors on the island of Lesvos has come to an end.

It was an amazingly empowering week with two incredible instructors. We will not easily forget this experience and are looking forward to practicing all learned skills with refugee women in Moria camp.

One of the teachers, Anat Errel wrote a beautiful message to all students. and we would like to put it in our report, because it says exactly what we all felt :

When I want to tell you how was it, at the Empowerment Self Defense Camp in Lesvos, Greece, I find there are no words to describe how really in awe we all were, how stunned we felt from all that went there, and how life-changing it was and so full of joy.

Thirteen women, some in their twenties, and already activists, opinionated and full of beliefs and a strong will to change and influence the world. With a strong yearning for more knowledge. Some older, in their fifties, that had already done stuff, and are still open to taking what we have to give them and with it, change the communities they live in.

From different languages and cultures, we created a meaningful, fascinating and fruitful discourse. The energy was high, even at the end of a long week, they still got up and happily reviewed the techniques again and again. The curiosity was endless, the questions were many, and the will to understand and be accurate amazing. There were stories that were never told before, and tears, and plenty of compassion, support and hugging arms. We became friends. No, we became a family. And there was so much joy and so much laughter.

And thirteen women that received the ESD message went, to give our tools to many other women and will make our world a better place.

Starfish Foundation in co-operation with ESD Global is organizing a training week to teach women to become self-defence instructors - to be held on the island of Lesvos during the 9th - 15th of May 2019. 

After arranging self-defence classes with refugee women for three months now, we realised that we need to train more professional instructors so we can meet the demand for more classes. The women who have learned basic skills are very eager to follow a more advanced training in self-defence. We will be able to offer this after the 15th of May when we will have five well trained local female instructors.

One of the instructors coming to train us is Anat Errel, who was with us in November of 2018 for a weekend training for female refugees. She is very happy to return to the island and help us to become more experienced in teaching new skills.

Starfish Foundation in co-operation with Yoga and Sports for Refugees is organizing self-defense classes for refugee women on a weekly basis. Last Wednesday the 20th of March Estelle from France, Nour from Belgium and Marieke from the Netherlands were the instructors at our morning class, and they did a great job.

Most participants had participated in our weekend course one month ago and because of the basic knowledge they had gained during that weekend they already showed a more powerful attitude  This proves the value of the lessons and we are very happy with the positive result.

A weekly afternoon class will soon start at another location close to the refugee camp, so we will be able to reach more women.

empowering women through yoga
empowering women through yoga

Last Thursday, the 7th of March, celebrating International Women’s Day, Starfish Foundation had a very special guest in OpenSpace in Mytilene. Angela Farmer, the very well-known Yoga teacher gave a three hour class to fifteen refugee women. The main theme of the day was how to feel safe in your own personal space by connecting to the earth and becoming grounded. 

Angela said that what you feel, is what you express in your body. People around you will understand when you are standing strong: they won’t easily act in an aggressive way towards a woman who has internal strength and believes in her own power. She encouraged the women to stay firm and peaceful with eyes wide open and to show no fear.

It was a wonderful experience for all of us being part of this empowering class with women from a completely different background. They showed eagerness to learn skills they can use in their daily life in the refugee camp and were truly grateful for the basic Technics that Angela showed them. Most of the women were young widows living in an unprotected area in the camp, where self-defence skills are highly needed.

angela farmer
angela farmer

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Organization Information

Starfish Foundation

Location: Mythimna, Lesvos - Greece
Project Leader:
Melinda McRostie
Mythimna, Lesvos Greece
$13,211 raised of $24,500 goal
178 donations
$11,289 to go
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