"I see single young men as one of the most vulnerable groups, not recognised as such by the system, the government, the large aid providers. So many young men, full of potential, energy, life force, strength, hope… but who have left everything, lost everything, and in lots of ways are floundering, ungrounded, without their family, community and elders to provide boundaries, support, and to help them take wise choices." - Jo McGain, Are You Syrious.
Project Mazí is a refugee housing project which will provide a home to five young men who are in Athens on their own and currently living on the streets. ‘Mazí’ meaning together in Greek speaks to the sense of community and support that we will create with this housing project. We will set up a cosy flat which will provide them with not just a roof over their head but also a safe space to call their own. This project, running for a minimum of one year, aims to be a stepping stone to long term accommodation, allowing them to become more independent and begin to build a brighter future. A dedicated live-in support worker from the refugee community will offer emotional and practical support alongside an external coordinator. With project Mazí we hope to not only improve the lives of the 5 young men who gain a home, but to also create a model which will be replicated so as to reach out to more people who need it.
Who are we?
We are a group of long term independent volunteers from various grassroots organisations working with displaced people living in Greece. We have all seen again and again how people suffer due to the huge lack of accommodation in Athens and we know we cannot wait for an inadequate system to change - we have to fill the gaps it leaves now! All of us have worked on different issues supporting refugees in Athens and every one of us has been struck by the ongoing problem of accommodation, which led us to join together on this project.
Who are we going to support?
Without housing in Greece you cannot access vital services including non-emergency health care, registered employment, financial support, a bank account, public education, or even a public transport card. Particular groups are far more likely to have no other option than to live on the street. Young men on their own and especially nationalities such as Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, have far less chance of being granted asylum, have way longer waiting times in the whole procedure and are disproportionately more likely to be homeless. They are left unsupported by the system and in turn are exposed to crime, violence, drug abuse and sexual exploitation whilst living on the streets. While minors are given a certain amount of support, the minute they turn 18 many find themselves in a highly vulnerable position with their housing and social services taken away. A safe and secure home provides protection not only from the above dangers but will allow these young men to go to school, get a job, receive financial support and build basic autonomy.
The bigger picture
This situation has now been at crisis point for more than 3 years. In a city full of empty buildings, people who are here seeking safety now face an unnecessary lack of accommodation in Athens and therefore continue suffering as even their most basic needs are not met. Despite the legal obligation to house asylum seekers, many are living on the streets or left with inadequate housing alternatives. Certain groups - families, single mothers, minors - are given priority, but even then such groups can be left homeless. UNHCR, who are supposed to provide accommodation for all asylum seekers and refugees, have said privately that they are not taking referrals for men over the age of 18. Existing accommodation options are past capacity, in poor condition, and usually far away from needed services such as doctors and lawyers. And even once accessed, asylum seekers who are granted legal refugee status are likely to be kicked out of state or NGO housing.
Governments and NGOs are proving themselves unable to address these challenges, leaving this huge responsibility to grassroots organisations and individuals.
So, how much will it cost?
Our operating budget will be €1720 per month including rent, utilities, building fees, wifi, some food, and volunteer financial support for a live-in support worker and external coordinator who will administer and provide support to the flat. There will be an additional set up cost of €1500 including deposit, furniture, household appliances, kitchen supplies, paint, linens etc.
How can you help?
You can make a one-off donation to help us set up the Mazí housing project. 100% of the money donated will go to the items listed in our budget (set up costs, rent, utilities, food and volunteer financial support for the live-in case worker and external coordinator).
The Mazí Housing Project xxx
MAZI HAS REACHED ITS £20,000 TARGET!!! We have received an overwhelming amount of support since starting the project - thank you! To everyone who has donated, put on an event, shared our page, bought a T-shirt or have been involved in any way, you guys rock! We still have a few days left to fundraise and the team has decided to pledge anything over £20,000 to emergency accommodation in Athens, so keep sharing! As summer approaches the number of people arriving in Greece increases every day, this means more people are living on the streets while UNHCR continues to ignore its legal obligation to house asylum seekers. Help us provide temporary emergency accommodation to vulnerable people in Athens!
We are using a UK account for donations but are based in Athens. SO here are the current conversion rates:
1 EURO = 0.87GDP
15 EURO = 13.11 GDP
50 EURO = 43.73 GDP
100 EURO = 87.45 GDP