First, meet Rosela!
I want to introduce you to Rosela. She is 8 years old, and she and her family left Syria to escape the violence of Daesh. She is probably our number one customer at Open Cultural Center, and it’s an unusual day when we don’t see her smiling face. On arriving in Greece, Rosela and her family were put in Moria, an overcrowded camp of tents and shacks. Conditions were very bad, and she didn't feel safe, or have many opportunities to play and learn. She's been coming to OCC for just a few months, and is already speaking English as well as some Spanish! She often comes with her Dad, and loves learning new words from our volunteers!
Children like Rosela, and their families, are stuck in a kind of transit limbo in Greece. Having made dangerous crossings, they often have to wait years while their asylum applications are processed. Children have limited opportunities to socialise, play, learn and take part in sport/arts/crafts. In Greece now 45% of 6-17 year old refugee children are not in education. This traumatized population have little in the way of employment or skills development opportunities. Young people, and children especially, are missing out on the chance to heal, learn and grow.
Here’s what we’re doing about it
In Polykastro we have established a community cafe, school and kindergarten, so that we can provide this vulnerable population with learning, skills development, the opportunity for play and creativity, and a community of support to help foster resilience.
There are childrens activities in the evenings which are run by a non-resident volunteer plus a resident volunteer (from the refugee community). The children have an English class, followed by an hour of art/craft or sport. We run these 6 days a week, and pick children and adults up from nearby Axioupoli, so they don't miss out either. We also run a daily kindergarten which provides structured activities and free play sessions for young children and mothers.
We also provide literacy classes, English lessons, and beginners Arabic. On Saturdays we run an adults football tournament, and womens space.
Until recently, we were lucky enough to have a van to help with the transportation of isolated people to our activities. Sadly, our trusty van expired a few weeks ago, and we're only just getting by with our two aging VW cars.
Help us to do this work
We are now really struggling to pay rent for the cafeteria and the school, which is a shop space beside the cafeteria, converted into 3 classrooms.
In addition, our aging VW Golf (a much-appreciated donation from Lada Rally!) is in need of a repairs to the clutch and timing belt which will cost more than the car is worth! We would love to buy a 7-seat vehicle so we can efficiently and comfortably bring members of our community to the school.
Please help us to secure provision of these education and community services for the next 12 months, by helping us raise 15,000 Euros to pay rent on the cafeteria and school, as well as purchasing a decent 7-seat vehicle for the transportation. We believe this is a worthwhile investment in the spirit of solidarity and equality, as well as an investment in a future pluralistic Europe which upholds human dignity. Thank you.