HOSTEL WORLD: Welcommon Hostel as a “Hostel Heroes”

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Thank you Hostelworld for shining a light on WELCOMMON HOSTEL as a “Hostel Heroes” in October 2020
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HOSTEL WORLD:
We are thrilled to continue shining a light on some of the amazing initiatives hostels are putting in place, whether it’s in community outreach or sustainability or something completely different. In the midst of a crisis, we are seeing hostels supporting the community coming together… building a better world!
In this week’s Hostel Hero story, we wanted to introduce Welcommon Hostel; located in Athens, Greece. The hostel has become a beacon for sustainable tourism in the heart of Athens as well as a community centre for social inclusion of refugees and local Greeks where they come together to learn essential life and language skills and empowerment. They are also an inspirer and educator for climate change action, energy transition and social economy.
This is their story:
“We ran the innovative Welcommon centre for refugees for housing and social integration of 600 vulnerable refugees for 18 months (9/2016-2/2018). The project was funded by UNHCR and through the Municipality of Athens. Although this was an innovative approach to the refugee issue for the whole EU, the funding stopped abruptly, and we did not have the time to find any other funding resources.
As a result, we decided to continue with our social activities for the refugees in another context: A social youth hostel, something that was missing from our city. Our aim was not to create another hostel in Athens but to host tourists and groups with social, ecological, and cultural interests, and to reinvest the generated income in the creation of jobs, climate projects and in social services offered to a number of refugees and other people in need. It is a social experiment based on social innovation and green vision.
Our guests also have the opportunity to participate directly and indirectly in humanitarian, social, inclusive-intercultural and green projects, get informed about the situation of refugees in our country, get connected with the creative side of the city, and participate in intercultural events and activities. We also contributed to the revitalization of the neighbourhood during the financial crisis period (2016-2020) and we continue to support the local economy with social and green procurement, reduction of single use plastics and with a zero-waste strategy.
The Post – COVID19 life
Until today we have offered non-formal education, empowerment and social inclusion activities to up to 1500 refugees, the majority teenagers, women, children, with the support of 320 volunteers from all over the world, who are hosted in our hostel for 2 to 9 months. After re-opening the WELCOMMON HOSTEL in June, we took some initiatives by ourselves:
-We are now hosting a number of vulnerable refugees in Welcommon Hostel. This has become possible with collaboration of some NGOs, women organisations, the Greek Council for Refugees, the Greek Refugees Forum and communities of refugees.
– We have restarted our volunteering program Days of WELCOMMON with the support of our volunteers and the participation of many refugees.
– We try to create a supportive framework and communities of solidarity, focusing on empowerment, connecting people and finding practical solutions like baby clothes, training new mothers on breastfeeding of newborn, offering second-hand baby strollers etc.
Would you like to know more about us or support our social and green activities? Please check out our website here!
Thank you, Welcommon Hostel, for helping to provide endless opportunities to refugees in Athens and ensuring a greener, brighter future for those that visit Greece.
Let’s continue Building a Better World. Please do get in touch to let us know what your hostel is getting up to. No deed too big or too small.
Stay Safe,
Hostelworld Group

Refugee faces (No2) from Welcommon Hostel: The story of Nasadore (freedom and democracy)

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Refugee faces (No2), from Welcommon Hostel. The real stories of refugees 

The story of Nasadore (freedom and democracy)

During COVID – 19, we – the social cooperative Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal – are hosting about 50-60 homeless vulnerable refugees in our innovative and inclusive WELCOMMON HOSTEL. Additional to accommodation and interecultural courses we already offer to them, we want to aware the citizens of the real problems and needs of the refugees, therefore we will present the real stories of them.

If you want to support our work, go here: www.gogetfunding/welcommon

One day she came to prison to visit me in secret. Her father and her brother didn’t know and they would beat here if they were aware. She brought a ring, gave it to me through the fence and said: „I want you to be my husband.” It’s a very difficult idea in our country [for the woman to propose] and she challenged the ideology for me. She loved me as much as was needed to do it.
It was love from the first sight. I met her through a friend while she was studying in high school. On the first date we just walked on the street and she was very shy. She was afraid that someone could see us so we were hiding from people.
When I got to prison she waited for me. She came to court and waited for five hours just to see me for three minutes. Then she waited for me for six years. When I left we got married and now we are expecting a baby.
I remember the poem by Richard Lovelace which I read in the cell:
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage:
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.
Except for my wife and family I don’t have many good experiences from my country. They put me in prison there only because I wanted democracy and freedom. I’m looking for a new home for me and my family, I want to belong somewhere and start a new life in a place which respects human beings, which doesn’t look into my religion, my ideas. We are only humans and we can accept each other.
I stay in the WELCOMMON HOSTEL now and it’s a good place. We have English, German and sport classes and I found migrants like me. We met the teachers from France, Germany, Poland and we had a good experience with them. Last weekend one of the volunteers noticed that my leg was infected. She hurried to the pharmacy right away and bought medicine for me. And she didn’t want any money for that. Now the leg is better and it’s all because of her.”
Nasadore’s wife is still in his home country.
He lost the engagement ring from prison during his travel to Europe.
The bracelet (on the pictures) is another gift from her he managed to keep.
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WELCOMMON HOSTEL: we offer accommodation and education for refugees in Athens during COVID-19

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About the Welcommon project during COVID-19

For the past 2 weeks Greece has been in lockdown (again), which means that everyone is supposed to stay home. Unfortunately some people don’t have a home and if it wasn’t for the Welcommon Hostel’s decision to remain open, a number of refugees would be left living (again) in the streets. In WELCOMMON HOSTEL we host  50 people during this lockdown-2.

Today, we are looking for funding or donations. Go to https://gogetfunding.com/welcommon/ to support two social projects:

  1. Housing of vulnerable refugees in the Welcommon Hostel during COVID-19 and especially lockdown2
  2. Providing intercultural classes and activities (language skills, job preparation, art therapy, etc.)

Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal was founded as a social cooperative in Athens in 2014. Born out of a desire to promote social and green innovation and economy, climate protection, energy transition, environmental awareness, intercultural dialogue, welcome refugees – providing safe accommodation and social inclusion. The WELCOMMON HOSTEL is an innovative hostel with social and green impact created and run by our social cooperative since July 2018, initially intended to be self-financed by tourism, and with a vision to bring people from all over the world together, by providing educational and intercultural activities for refugee communities in Athens, local Greeks and travelers. As a cooperative we don’t share profits, if there is we invest it in new jobs, social, climate and green activities. For 1,5 year (September 2016 to Ferbruary 2018) Anemos Ananeosis provided accommodation in dignity, empowerment and non-formal education for more than 600 refugees in the WElCOMMON, a centre for refugees based on the “empowerment through building communities” model.

What’s the problem and how are we addressing it?

As of June 2020, even the sustainable tourism collapsed and at the same time thousands of recognized refugees and asylum seekers in Greece have been facing eviction from the greek government / EU funded accommodation, as a result of a new government plan, which has already left many refugees homeless in the midst of a global pandemic. This includes many vulnerable asylum seekers, such as survivors of sexual violence, torture and ill treatment, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases, pregnants and mothers with new borned babies.

The vision for the Welcommon Hostel, opened in 2018, was to be a sustainable solution to host all the travelers. If you’ve ever come into the Welcommon you probably felt that it is a special place, a place where you can meet people, learn from them… it is a community. Special place, people, values.

 

Five floors of the seven storey building can provide accommodation to up to 167 people.

Two floors of the Welcommon hostel are dedicated to our social activities, providing opportunities to guests, international volunteers and refugees to collaborate and learn together. Our hostel is also a place for social and cultural exchange. Here, Greek locals, refugees, volunteers and tourists come together to eat, to drink, to discuss or to play card games.

Housing of vulnerable refugees during COVID-19

With the current situation in the camps and the streets of Athens and during COVID-19, it became vital to offer emergency and long-term accommodation for refugees, not only lessons. This is why we are open for collaboration and looking for resources, common projects and/or donations to finance this initiative. Therefore, during this new lockdown we are hosting 50 people from Afghanistan, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, Palestine, Congo etc. Our objective is to find resources to host 60 to 80 people currently living in the street or in camps and support their return to society, focusing on vulnerable. Recenlty, we hosted the 51st newborn baby (and her family), and soon we will host the 52d one, since September 2016.

 

Accommodation to volunteers

We offer accommodation to volunteers coming from all over Europe and the world – some of them #EuropeanSolidarityCorps participants – to participate in our activities and provide the space for the intercultural lessons and activities. Since 2016, more than 330 volunteers participated in organising non formal education language classes, art therapy courses and socializing events with over 1500 refugees. The aim is to promote social inclusion and support refugees in restarting their lives and help them to become more independent but also to promote collaboration, respect and learning each other.

Intercultural classes and activities during COVID-19 and lockdown

Our plan, is to provide accommodation for refugee communities, but also to  help them with education, empoewerment and integration by providing educational and intercultural activities and job preparation even during COVID-19 and lockdown-2.

Our activities during COVID-19: The activities came to a complete stop during the Covid-19 lockdown-1 (March – May 2020) and restarted in limited capacity in June 2020 because of the small number of volunteers and lack of financial resources. Throughout the summer extra volunteers brought their enthusiasm and motivation to the project. From June to November 2020 (before the lockdown2) we offered the posibility to 110 refugees to participate in non-formal education, intercultural lessons. Most of the participants in the courses are teenagers and women.

Our activities during the lockdown-2: Since the 7th of November 2020, we had to cancel the courses for refugees from outside the hostel (camps and appartments) participating in the classes, because of the restrictions in mobility and of the health protocols. Our volunteers are re-organising the life in the hostel with activities, classes, daily chores, cleaning, etc… In the end, this lockdown is a good opportunity to get to know each other and to share our stories, our skills. We created a new schedule for the about 50-60 residents (refugees) of the Welcommon Hostel with different kinds of language classes (english, french, german, art) and projects for teenagers, children and adults! The children living in the hostel during COVID-19 and lockdown learn  language, painting, maths with the help of our volunteers in the kids rooms! To make the best out of this lockdown and make it a productive time,  the volunteers also organised all the resources that we have at the hostel to be able to be more efficient for the classes.

Why we need your help?

Since reopening the hostel in June, we have hosted in our hostel a few tourists by moslty refugees and asylum seekers, including many vulnerable cases, thanks to the collaboration with organizations such as Greek Council of Refugees, Greek Refugees Forum, women organisation DIOTIMA.

Unfortunately both us and other NGO’s active in Athens have limited resources, and can only manage to help a certain amount of people, while many more people, including many vulnerable refugees are still homeless, and living in streets of Athens.

But lockdown means no tourism, which means no income, which means it is difficult to pay the total cost (rent, bills, taxes and fees, cleaning material and personnel, laundry, staff, consumables. colors, papers etc). We need an amount – additional to what we can finance – of at least 450 Euro for 2 persons for a month, which means that we need your help!

We need your help to keep the project going!

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  • To financially support us go to: https://gogetfunding.com/welcommon/

 

or direct to our bank accounts:

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ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL

  • Cooperative Bank of Karditsa

ΙΒΑΝ GR 7608900100003010003540200

Swift Code STKAGRA1

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ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL

  • Piraeus Bank

IBAN: GR83 0172 0180 0050 1807 7868 253

Piraeus’s BIC code is PIRBGRAA

Don’t forget to send us (windofrenewal@gmail.com) your details. We need name, address, country, VAT No in order to be able to issue the receipt for your donation

And if you can’t donate, remember that sharing is caring! Thank you

#lockdowndiary #windofrenewal #welcommonhostel #socialwork #volunteering