“Every human being has the right to education, acceptance and a sense of well-being.”
1. Birthday Celebrations
This is our founding project: We visit refugee camps, squats, and private houses of refugees to organize birthday celebrations similar to how they did them back home in order to give them a little bit of a sense of normality in their new life here in Greece.
We plan to do this as well for elderly people in care homes or at their homes – but due to the Covid-19 restrictions, we are not allowed to enter these homes yet.
This is a project that we started during the lock-down period in March 2020, as we weren’t able to carry on with our birthday celebrations, and wanted to reach out to Farsi-speaking people safely who weren’t able to follow the Greek or English news. We informed them about the new regulations concerning the Covid-19 restrictions as well as other Greek news updates. This podcast has now become a part of our organization. It is not only a news update but also an opportunity for listeners to offer their contributions.
There is e.g. an Iranian DJ offering his music program, as well as authors reading from their books, or singers performing through video. Radio Younan helps in this way to motivate listeners, to start as well as a new life in Greece, to integrate them into Greece through the updates about news, laws and customs and last but not least to blend the different refugee cultures.
3. Educational Projects
This section was also created during the 2nd Corona Virus lockdown, as we were no longer able to organize birthday parties. And so, through our podcast Radio Younan, many Farsi-speaking refugees got in touch with us and shared their ideas and needs, and suggestions.
One of them was Samin Razzaghi who wanted to contribute her work as a professional make-up artist. She is giving regularly make-up classes which also include the theory of colors and skincare for refugee women at our location in Kifissia. Also, we will have jewelry-making workshops, where mothers and children will learn how to make fashionable jewelry and art classes for mothers and children as support to overcome their traumas. And more importantly, we learned that there is a great need for language classes, therefore we organized Greek and English classes using volunteers from all over the world – as we had done online.
We have 13 volunteers (and professional teachers) and up to 150 students. As we are a registered NGO, the students get “certificates of attendance”, which could be helpful on their CVs. We are working constantly together with vulnerable people. We include them in all our projects and motivate them in this way to build a new life here in Greece. Other projects will follow. Also, we are open to all kinds of ideas either from locals or from refugees, in order to make their life more joyful, to give them a sense of normality, and learn about Greek society and culture.
Here are some of our teachers (2 of them are professionals), Olga (Greece), Arianna (Italy), and Nicholas (Mexico):
4. Projects for Elderly People
This project will include as well birthday celebrations in care homes or private houses, all kinds of projects to help deal with loneliness, like reading out books, teaching them how to use social media or how to write a simple e-mail, or go to the supermarket or other “outdoor activities” which are challenging for them.
But unfortunately – these projects are still restricted by the government regulations concerning the Covid -19 epidemic.
The four main activities
The initial one, the birthday parties for refugee children and elderly people in Greece, the podcast (Radio Younan), which was founded during the first lockdown period to reach out safely the refugees and get them informed about the news updates and about asylum procedure but also offering an entertainment program with music, films, and interviews with people of interest.
The third part, the workshops, was founded through the podcast as listeners came up to us and ask how they could support us. So, we have been giving them space and our support to teach their skills to their fellows. The workshops are of all kinds, like make-up classes, language- and cultural awareness classes, yoga classes, tailoring, jewelry making, soap production, cooking- and baking classes, but also there will be a big part for the elderly people to educate in media use.
These workshops are primarily for their well-being and their self-confidence because only when one feels at ease, he or she can be open to new horizons, which should be the integration in our society in Greece. But apart from the well-being, a lot of workshops will enable them to run their own little business and become independent. And again, the participants of the workshops come up with new ideas on how to contribute to our organization and how to help their fellows.
As we have already mentioned we are not only an international team but also having one among us, who himself faced the emotional and economic difficulties of being a refugee. So, we learn firsthand where our help is needed and not wasting time and money on projects which are not efficient.
Moreover, all of us held a degree of different academic education, like Psychology, Microbiology, and German Literature. In this way, we have a wide range to interact and help.
As we are a small NGO, the money we raise will go immediately to the people in need and not being “waste” in bureaucracy or in the salary of the employees.
Our volunteers are mainly refugees themselves, who want to get involved, who want to be a part of the society here, in Greece, and who want to help their fellowes with their skills. In this way the vulnerable people love to come to our place, as they can communicate in their language and moreover, they feel understood and safe.
We integrate the vulnerable people into our NGO, to give them a sort of home, stability which makes them feel at ease and which empowers them to open to the Greek society, by having learned some skills to run an own little business and by having learned a foreign language and be aware of the European way of life.