“You can feel the peace in here” (Kumi Naidoo, General secretary of Amnesty International visiting)
Our work seems to be more important than ever. There is nearly no other space in the city center of Mytilini that includes all ages, all nationalities, locals and refugees, with a huge team of social support, teachers and organizers. We gained trust and became an independent meeting point for human rights organizations, local initiatives, artists, refugees and migrants. Beyond the immediate “refugee crisis” response – our aim is to build an inclusive community with locals and refugees on the island – to create a positive example of integration – we create a society of solidarity and peace – to show that another approach is possible.
Our current program contains regularly 13 different English classes, 11 Greek classes, 2 Arabic classes, 1 guitar class, 1 Ukulele class, 6 computer classes, 1 movie workshop, 1 up-cycling workshop, 1 children choir, 1 creativity workshop for children. We run a 10 weeks program and take in new registrations every three month. Usually after 2 days of registration, all our 600 spaces for classes are filled again. 90% of our regular students are refugees from the main camp Moria. With a couple of concerts, film screenings and events we organize monthly, we have gained a huge outreach in the community of Lesbos. We cooperate with legal aid organizations and local businesses.
This year we grew to a central point of connecting and informing people. Daily we support individuals and families for paper work and orientation in the city, we are approached by universities, by public services, international known artists, musicians, journalists etc. We connect actors, initiatives and individuals with each other.
We don’t want to talk about but with refugees, migrants and vulnerable people. We build bridges instead of walls.
With your support and with your help we try to keep up the work based on paid positions hiring both refugees and locals in order to give perspectives to people living on the island.and building long term networks of solidarity.
The Situation in Lesvos
In the third year since the EU-Turkey deal, the consequences of the agreement have become increasingly clear on Lesbos. As people kept arriving (statistics about arrivals), especially in late spring and early summer, they were piled up in Moria camp, since barely anyone was moved to the mainland, living in dire circumstances. The camp soon reached a record number of inhabitants: overcrowded at more than three times its official capacity, people were sharing living spaces (caravans, summer tents and structures made of pallets and plastic sheeting) cramped on every inch of free ground available, including a few thousand people in the adjacent strip of land called Olive Grove. All people in the camp and Olive Grove were lacking proper access to basic needs such as water and sanitation facilities, medical care, and sometimes even food. During the hottest summer months the situation reached a boiling point.
Several organizations reported about fights and riots, incidents of sexual violence, and an increasing prevalence of mental health issues including self-harm and attempted suicide, even among children (reports MSF, report RSA).