During our trip to Athens in December 2019 we took the chance to communicate with local long term volunteers and refugees on the ground to understand the new refugee situation in Greece, as squats within the centre of Athens had been continually evicted.
Being welcomed into a new squat in Athens, we hosted our first workshop creating printing paintings with young children. We asked the community living there to write a list of items they wanted/needed and worked with our social media community to raise more money to buy most of the items before our trip ended.
Big thank you to everyone who supported this initiative.
Working with long-term volunteers we visited a camp an hour outside of Athens. Some families from 5th school had been moved there alongside other refugees. The camp houses them in large tents with cardboard divisions. There was no communal space, portaloo toilets, no kitchen or cooking facilities, so people are fully reliant on government aid. The camp is completely isolated, with no shops, schools, etc for them to access. Their network with NGOs and local groups are incredibly strained due to their location.
Alongside some other volunteers, who try to visit frequently, we did some painting, played pass the parcel, skipping and set up a photoshoot for some Christmas themed portraits!
On day 4 we hosted a lovely painting workshop today with the first squat we visited. Setting up tables and chairs the young people created such careful work! After painting, we had some music and snacks!
On day 5, we were able to host a Christmas party within Athens, and it was really nice to see some of the children from 5th school. Organised with the amazing long term volunteers there, we had Christmas tree decorations, jewellery, cake, pass the parcel, musical chairs and PRESENTS. Christmas is not a religious celebration for some of the refugees we meet, but we’ve heard a lot of the children feel left out in school or even just walking around Athens there are lights and presents everywhere! We think it’s nice to make everyone feel included and explore new cultural celebrations.
I remember vividly how all the young people were so excited to join in with festive fun and games.
Polaroid photos are always really popular and we loved setting up our mini portrait studio!