We are a non-profit organization of volunteers, based in Spain. We provide support to refugees and displaced people, mainly in the area of Education and Social Reconstruction.
Recently we have been organizing workshops and educational activities for minors living in the refugee’s camp of Lagadikia in Northern Greece. Our work was aimed at making them able to follow again lessons when the formal school will restart.At the same time, we implemented activities of community development: we promote and support groups of refugees organizing and managing their own community activities. We promoted and are supporting a camp newspaper, a theatre group, a service of daily care for babies, a group of women,...
Currently we are preparing a new project: launching a community centre in Thessaloniki (Greece) for all refugees living in the city. We are trying to find and fund premises where we can organize activities for children and promote elder people having their own activities. We will use for this the summer of 2017 and then we will keep for as long as it is needed our financial and technical support but we will progressively retire in order to facilitate refugees taking the management.
The program has been prepared with support of pedagogues and psychologists. It is focused in reinforcing capacities for learning in children and the self-organization of adults. It is developed with support of trained volunteers with extended professional experience.
Since February 2016 thousands of refugees coming mainly from Syria and Afghanistan which were supposed to cross Greece in their way to central Europe stayed in the country.
The border with Macedonia was then closed but refugees kept coming through the Greek islands. The result is that now there are more than 62.000 persons trapped in Greece.
At the beginning they stayed in some provisional centres and mostly built up improvised camps in Idomeni border and Piraeus port.
However, since then the Greek government made an effort to build up new centres and camps where they were living for months. It is yet difficult to predict the length of their stay in Greece but apparently they will need to be there for a long period, so since the end of 2016 most of the camps are being closed and people is moving to live in apartments or facilities in the cities. .
The main effect of the refugee situation in the life of people is losing their capacity to take initiatives and self organize. People pass the day without anything to do and under the assistance of international agencies.
The international assistance usually leaves little space to the initiative of the own refugees. everything is planned from outside and most of agencies take a paternalistic approach, treating refugees as minors or non-capable people. This increases the loss of autonomy and worsens the frustration of people living in the camps.
In the other side, around one third of the refugees staying in Greece are minors. Mostly young kids which expend all the time hanging around in the camps.
According to international and European rules the minor refugees have the right to receive a proper education in adequate schools. The Greek government has made a big effort to facilitate the refugee children going to Greek schools, but so far they do not receive a full proper education as in their home country.
However the situation of being a refugee has a strong impact in the social abilities of kids. For months they haven´t been assisting to school. They were fleeing their hometowns; they had to follow their families through a rough and dangerous journey. Then they arrived to camps where they pass their time mostly playing and hanging around far from any authority or discipline. These conditions surely hamper their learning capacities. They suddenly have additional problems for fixing attention, working properly and often even for being sitting for hours in a closed room.
Often, the action of volunteers and aid workers without the adequate training and perspective may worse the educational problems of these children: by abusing of random donations of toys and items; by promoting in the wrong way activities without goals and organization such as drawing or making small handcrafts; by organizing games and recreational activities without clear rules and aims. All these activities may increase the dependence of minors, their individualism and their lack of self-discipline, hampering involuntarily their capacity to follow up adequately school.
In this situation, minors refugees need a supplementary help in order to be able to restart again their formal education. They have big risk of becoming aggressive; they lose their capacity for mutual support and working in group. These problems are increased when they live isolated from other kids, so that social activities are crucial for their future.