Supporting Refugees in Greece

Wadi has been supporting refugees in Greece since 2017. Working with partner NGOs to provide shelter, psycho-social support, and food for the most vulnerable of refugees:  ‘single women’ fleeing. Some of these women are separated from their husbands and families, some have no family left, some have children, others do not, but they are all alone,  travelling hundreds of kilometres alone, only to find violence, sexual assault, fear, and desperation.

That project supported refugees on mainland Greece, however the situation for refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos continues to be extremely difficult. The camp, known as Moria, has been described as “a kind of hell on earth in Europe”, by Doctors without Borders. The daily reality for hundreds of women and children is violence, food shortages, lack of basic plumbing and hygiene, overcrowded camps, endless lines for food and medical attention, and that’s just a start.

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In 2018 Wadi continued its commitment to increase the capacity of NGOs working on similar issues with shared values. We have done this in the past supporting and increasing the technical capacity of  various NGOs and projects.  We choose to work with a local Lesvos NGO called  Stand by me Lesvos; a collection of local Lesvos teachers, professors and small business owners that decided to come together to create an opportunity where refugees can improve their education, and grow their skill sets. We were interested in their different approach, in their words “we are taking a bad situation and with very little funds, working to make a safe, positive space, where we can train and teach refugees, and advise them on how to reintegrate from the margins of camp life, back into mainstream society”.

Wadi is supporting the work of ‘Stand by me Lesvos’ and in 2019 we are looking forward to sharing knowledge and ideas based on our experiences working with refugees and IDPs in Iraqi Kurdistan, fostering south-south cooperation and exchange of lessons learned.

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Our goal is to have refugees directly exchanging knowledge on how to best run their classes, how to set up refugee for refugee radio station, and how to deal with difficult situations. We believe in local approaches to and working together to improve a tough situation.

More on Stand by me Lesvos Projects:

In 2018 Stand by me Lesvos set up and opened the “Academia”, which is a school for adult women refugees from Moria camp. The “Academia” currently offers English and Greek courses, English is useful wherever these women might end up in the future and Greek is important because Stand by me Lesvos encourages refugees to be able to communicate with their host community and not be so isolated from Greek society and life. The women who attend the classes have taken a big step to engage with the local community and use the time they are stuck in the camp to improve themselves.

(Video: Refugees learning English in the Stand by me Levos School)

The really wonderful part about the school is that most of the teachers are refugees themselves. The idea is simple: to train the refugees who already know English to teach other refugees. This is ideal for refugees, because while a peer-mentor might not know perfect English, he or she speaks the same language as their refugee students and have similar life experiences so they can understand their needs and feelings in a different way than a European volunteer might. You can follow their daily project updates here.

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