Over the past few years, war and terrorism has forced millions of people to flee from Syria and Afghanistan. Many of them are now stranded in Greek camps managed by the UNHCR or Greek army. But tens of thousands are living or squatting in empty school buildings, former factories and other derelict places in and around Athens, often in appalling conditions. These people need help with the basic essentials we take for granted in our everyday life. Clothes, food, clean drinking water, detergent and medicine – the list goes on. Many of the refugees in these unofficial camps are the most vulnerable members of society: children, old people, and people with disabilities.
We have been to Greece several times over the last year to provide direct help. We had been doing this with our own money but to do more we needed greater funding and assistance. And so we set up Giving for a Better Future to collect funds to enable our team to provide direct relief to those who need it most. We started by distributing essentials to the unofficial refugee camps that are underserved by other volunteers and charities. At this point we soon realised that the only long term solution to resolving the ongoing need of providing provisions and relief for refugees is to teach them how to communicate and aid integration. So we decided to set up an education centre in partnership with Khora in the heart of Athens teaching English, German and Greek.
The pilot education centre has been a huge success and as a result we are turning away dozens of refugees every day who are trying to learn. Our next steps are to build and manage a much bigger education centre in the heart of Athens that can accommodate up to 420 refugees everyday. The focus will be on teaching English, German, Greek, literacy and contextual learning by qualified teachers and volunteers.
We also plan to continue our work supplying direct relief to those most in need across Greece and are setting up regular deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables to ensure that people receive a healthy diet.