10 european and international awards and distinctions for Wind of Renewal and Welcommon Hostel

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ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL has received 11 international and European-level distinctions for innovation and contribution to the social economy, social innovation, social and green impact.

– Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal has been awarded the European Citizen’s Prize 2018, by the European Parliament.  The European Citizen’s Prize recognizes initiatives that contribute to the promotion of EU values and fundamental rights, mutual understanding and closer integration between people in the EU, cross- border cooperation that builds a stronger European spirit.

– HOSTEL WORLD named in 2020 the WELCOMMON HOSTEL as one of the Hostel Heroes 2020, “a hostel that in the midst of the crisis is supporting the community coming together… building a better world!”.

– Welcommon Hostel was recognised as the most EXTRAORDINARY Hostel Hero 2021 by leading Online Travel Agent focused on the hostel market, Hostelworld. It was crowned most EXTRAORDINARY Hostel Hero by a panel of expert travel judges and more than 20,000 votes by hostel  travelers  all around the world.

– WELCOMMON HOSTEL was distinguished as the best social / intercultural action 2020-2021 in Greece during covid-19 – the competition was organized by the national network of “Anna Lindh Foundation“, the euro-med network for the intercultural dialogue.

– It was included in the short list of the finalists of the Central European Bank – CEB “social inclusion” award 2021,

– It was included in the short list (5 projects) of the HOSCARs “Extraordinary Sustainable Hostel” 2021

– It was selectd as one of the best 3 examples of projects for refugees contributing to the dialogue between the cultures in the Euro-med area (2017 Euro-Med Dialogue Award) by the Anna Lindh Foundation and the Fondazione Mediterraneo.

– We have also received A Special Mention” award of the REVES Excellence Award 2017 and a bronze prize 2019 in the competition @REVESNetwork #ExcellenceAwards2019 and.

– The French Federation of Social Inclusion Enterprises invited ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL to participate in it’s national Congress organized 16-17/11/2018, in Marseille, and presented  the WELCOMMON center for housing and social inclusion of refugees as a “good example of social inclusion in Euro-Med area”.

– Welcommon Hostel was selected as one of the Best Of civil society initiatives of the Euro-Med Region and was presented during the “Long Night of Ideas” on 7/6/2021: how civil society in the Euro-Med was contributing to overcome challenges of our times

Hannah Neumann, MEP: “My trip to Greece” – and her visit to Welcommon Hostel

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Hannah Neumann, MEP: “My trip to Greece” and …her visit to Welcommon Hostel

This article is published by Hannah Neumann, a Member of the European Parliament (Greens/EFA, Germany) after her visit to Athens, and, between others, to Welcommon Hostel. Thank you Hannah

Online event: EU Green Deal and the Greek Green Deal

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EU Green Deal and the Greek Green Deal
Online eventMonday 20th of December | 14:00-17:00 CET

In July 2021, the European Commission presented a series of proposals to implement the Green Deal, the goal of making the European Union “climate neutral” by 2050. Since then, the European Green Deal has been both specialised and criticised for its weaknesses in terms of its social objectives. At Member State level, the landscape is even more blurred and often conflicting, with inadequate climate policies, lack of political will and citizens’ ignorance of the impending changes in their lives, for example in terms of employment, energy, housing and quality of life in cities, agri-food, etc.

Heinrich Böll Foundation Greece and the social cooperative enterprise Wind of Renewal / Anemos Ananeosis have tried to answer the question “What would a Green Deal for Greece look like?” by asking researchers, representatives of institutions and experts to submit their views in the homonymous online dossier. This initiative aims to co-shape a Green Deal that leaves no one behind and achieves the transition to a new productive-consumptive model. In this context, the two organisations, are organising the online event EU Green Deal and the Greek Green Deal, on Monday 20 December, 14:00-17:00 CET.

The event takes place on the occasion of the publication of the Policy brief “A Green Deal for Greece”. The online discussion aims to contribute to the information of Greek citizens and to trigger a fruitful dialogue between a wide range of civil society actors and competent authorities on this strategy, the opportunities and challenges for its implementation in Europe, as well as in Greece.

The debate, which is the first of a series of others that will follow, is with the support of the European Parliament Office in Greece.

The event will be held in Greek and English, with simultaneous interpretation, and will be broadcasted live here and here

Registration here

For more information, please contact:
– Nikos Chrysogelos, Wind of Renewal, nikos.chrysogelos@gmail.com
– Kyriaki Metaxa, Heinrich Boell Foundation Greece kyriaki.metaxa@gr.boell.org

PROGRAM |14:00-17:00 CET

14:00 – 14:15 Welcome, Greetings:

  • Constantinos Tsoutsoplides, European Parliament in Athens
  • Michalis Goudis, director Heinrich Boell Foundation Greece

14:15 – 15:15 A European Green Deal for all

  • Emmanuella Doussis, Professor at the University of Athens, UNESCO Chairholder on Climate Diplomacy “Geopolitics of the European Green Deal”
  • Alexandra Geese, MEP Greens/EFA, “Green Deal and gender budgeting
  • Elsa Durieux, Senior Officer, Sustainable Finance, Smart Cities and Business – ICLEI (tbc)

Questions

15:15 – 16:25 A Green Deal for Greece

  • Athena Dimou, Assistant to the Director and President of the BoD – Programs’ monitoring at National Observatory of Athens – CLIMPACT project “The need to link research with decision-making centers to address the Climate crisis. Examples of collaborations at national and regional level
  • Vlassis Oikonomou, Managing Director – Institute for European Energy and Climate Policy Foundation “Heating decarbonization in Greece and the role of energy efficiency”
  • Nikos Chrysogelos, former MEP, chair of Wind of Renewl: “Green recovery of neighborhoods and cities and the role of social economy
  • Maria Mourtzaki, Policy Manager – ActionAid Hellas: “The social dimension of the European Green Deal: elements for inclusive policies

Questions
16:25 – 17:00 Wrap up
Moderation: Michalis Goudis, Director Heinrich Boell Foundation Office Thessaloniki, Greece

Social Economy Europe welcomes the European Social Economy Action Plan

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A positive project for Europe, a new chapter for the social economy

On 8th of December, the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis and Commissioner Nicolas Schmit presented the Social Economy Action Plan at a press conference in Brussels.

The Commission’s communication entitled “Building an economy that works for people: an action plan for the social economy” has a horizon of nine years for its implementation 2021-2030, and will be assed in 2025. Social Economy Europe believes that the Social Economy Action Plan is an impressive EU public policy, co-created with social economy stakeholders, that offers a positive project for Europe. An initiative that has the potential to scale up the social economy in Europe, going beyond the traditional 6.3% of total employment in the EU that it currently represents.

“We warmly welcome and endorse the Social Economy Action Plan for which we have been working and advocating since 2014. The Social Economy Action Plan will provide concrete instruments for social economy actors to scale-up all over Europe and beyond our borders.”  Juan Antonio Pedreño, President of Social Economy Europe

The Social Economy Action Plan provides a clear and inclusive definition of the social economy in Europe:

“In the context of this action plan and related EU initiatives, the social economy covers entities sharing the following main common principles and features: the primacy of people as well as social and/or environmental purpose over profit, the reinvestment of most of the profits and surpluses to carry out activities in the interest of members/users (“collective interest”) or society at large (“general interest”) and democratic and/ or participatory governance.

“The Action Plan is a federative initiative, it includes some of our main policy recommendations. The proposal of a Council Recommendation on developing social economy framework conditions, that the Council should adopt in 2023; the new Single EU Social Economy Gateway to be launched in 2030; or the importance of supporting social economy representative networks in every EU MS, as well as the emergence of local social economy contact points in all Member States, are fully alligned with the letter and spirit of our proposals.”
Juan Antonio Pedreño, President of Social Economy Europe

The  policy includes 38 concrete actions to be implemented in the coming nine years, in key areas as: state aid (exploring new possibilities for work integration social enterprises and other social economy enterprises of social utility), legal and policy frameworkssocially responsible public procurement and access to marketspromoting social economy at local, regional and international levelsbusiness supportskillsyouth entrepreneurshipaccess to funding and finance (InvestEU and othe relavant programmes)social economy contribution to the green and digital transitionssocial innovationrecognition and more.

In line with the EU Industrial Strategy , the Commission also launched a Transition Pathway for the Proximity and Social Economy Industrial Ecosystem, that enacts a participatory process that will will result in

“a finalised transition pathway during 2022, summarising the joint work and targeted engagement with stakeholders and mobilising stakeholders to present commitments and joint actions to boost resilience and accelerate the green and digital transition of this industrial ecosystem. The Commission will mobilise different mechanisms to enable this process and facilitate stakeholder cooperation on the roll-out of the transition pathway”.

“This is a very good EU public policy, a policy that inspires and supports a positive project for Europe, a policy that will kick start an entrepreneurial revolution. What excites us the most at Social Economy Europe, is the way forward. All hands are needed now to implement the plan: social economy stakeholders, Member States, EU Institutions, local and regional authorities, researches, financial institutions, the philantropy and investors, the GECES, etc. An adventure in which we look forward to cooperating with our amazing network.”
Víctor Meseguer, Director of SEE. 

Lilian B. volunteer: my time at the Welcommon Hostel was very intense and unique

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My experiences at the Welcommon Hostel

I’m Lilian a 19 years old german girl and I stayed with a friend at the Welcommon Hostel in Athens for over one month participating in the European Solidarity Corps project “Green Social Innovation for young people”. The name Welcommon, fits perfectly to the philosophy of this amazing place. Welcommon means welcome in common. Related to the name the original idea of the Hostel is, that refugees, tourists, and volunteers are all welcome and live together at this wonderful place. During these five intense weeks I have met so many interesting and wonderful people, with different stories and unique backgrounds, from all over the world!

In the following I would love to share my expectations before Athens and my experiences with you.

First, I would like to start with my expectations before coming to Athens.

My Expectations

My friend and I found this beautiful project on a website called: workaway. Workaway is a great website, for travelers, where you can find different projects all over the world. We felt in love with the idea of the Hostel immediately and thought that this project fits perfect to our original dream to do something social and meaningful while traveling. To be completely honest I did not really had any expectations before coming to Greece, because it was my first volunteering project. I expected that the work would be more like typical Hostel work, for example staying at the reception or cleaning the rooms.

I just felt verry exited of the time at the hostel, the new people I will meet, the places I will visit and the new experience I will make. In the following I`m going on with my experience at the Welcommon Hostel

My Experience

Our main tasks at the Hostel were, to give classes to the refugees who live in the Hostel and to everybody who wants to attend. My task was it to give a german and english beginner class and together with the other volunteers an art class. The focus in our classes was on sustainability and environmental education. Specially in our art class we tried to connect painting with sustainability. I also tried to connect my beginner german and English class with topics like climate change, but the classes were more about the basics of the language.

In my german beginner class I teached the Alphabet, the sound of the language and the most useful german words and phrases. In my English class I teached kind of the same, but we also have done some small conversations and a lot more of vocabulary’s, because the most of the students already know the most basic words. It was so beautiful to see how motivated every student was.

The time with our students was also verry intense and emotional, especially because of our talks about their individual background story’s. For example, many of the students are from Afghanistan and during our time at the Welcommon Hostel, the Taliban took over the country. During one class, our students invited us to a demonstration in Athens against the Taliban, which was so heartbreaking to see.

Moreover, we spent much time with the children who live in the hostel. For example, we went to a nice park in the near of the hostel a couple of times. It was so great to see how the children had a great time, grew up and learn new things every day.

As a volunteer participating in the projects organised by Anemos Ananeosis in the Welcommon Hostel you are very free. You can spend your time with every project you would like to do. For example, another volunteer was doing a Boxing-Class in the Morning, or we painted the walls of backyard once. The schedule was from Monday till Thursday, and we had the possibility to design the lessons however we wanted. On the weekend you have free time. So, we had the great possibility to explore the historical center of Athens or the beautiful Greek Islands.

To sum it up my time at the Welcommon Hostel was very intense and unique, because of all the beautiful people I met and all the talks I had with them. Because of the Welcommon Community I have learned so many things about different cultures, perspectives and especially for my future live. I`m feeling so grateful for this time

Lilian Bartsch

Bente W., Volunteer: I learned so much about different lifestyles, cultures and experiences

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My name is Bente

I stayed at the Welcommon Hostel in Athens from August 4th until September 4th with my friend, participating in the European Solidarity Corps project of Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal. To explain the Welcommon Hostel a little bit, the name “welcommon” means welcome in common, which actually fits to this hostel perfectly: during my stay I’ve met tourists, refugees, other volunteers, the workers there and youth groups that all together filled the hostel with life. We all lived there together in a community and all of them became an important part of this amazing experience.

To start this report, I’d like to talk about my expectations before coming to the welcommon hostel.

My expectations

To be completely honest, I did not really have any expectations before coming to this hostel. My friend and me found this project on a website called workaway, which is a website, where people can share projects all over the world. People that would like to volunteer at those projects can get in contact with the hosts by simply texting them and then hope for an answer.

The communication with the organisation Anemos Ananaeosis and the Welcommon Hostel was super fast and easy. We got an answer right away and were informed about the European Solidarity Corps project, that the organisation and the Welcommon Hostel are taking part in. We were told, that we were supposed to give classes about environmental education, because that was one of the two the main topics of the European Solidarity Corps project, which is why I expected to teach a little about environmental issues and how to reduce them. Other than that, I expected some typical hostel work like cleaning or working at the reception etc because in the end, the welcommon hostel is not only a community project but also a hostel for travellers.

My experiences

My very few expectations did vary from reality. There was not really a lot of ”hostel work“ for us to do, though we did stay at the reception in my last week, because there was a lot to do for the receptionists. Our main task was to give classes to everybody that would like to attend. I gave intermediate English, advanced beginner German and art classes and connected them with the task of environmental education asked for by the European Solidarity Corps project: some art classes consisted out of experiences of the students with climate change or pollution and how they felt about it. In the end we talked about what the causes are and how to reduce
them (shown in the picture to the left).

In my intermediate English class we also talked about environmental issues, for example the leak of the oil pipeline in the beginning of august in Trinidad, and how oil is harmful for the environment and the animals in the marine ecosystem. (some of the vocabulary is shown in the picture on the right on the next page) In my advanced beginner german class, I mostly did grammar and vocabulary, because there was no way we could have talked about environmental issues, because it still was a beginners class, so there was obviously a lack of vocabulary and grammar for this topic.

The most important and also the talks I remember most were the talks about Afghanistan in all my classes (mostly in my english intermediate class). To explain this a little further, during my stay at the hostel, the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, and with the backround of a majority of my students fleeing from Afghanistan, these were very emotional and touching talks we had in class. During my class, one of my students invited us to a demonstration in athens against the taliban, wich was also a super intense experience (picture to the left).

We also played with the children at the hostel from time to time. One time, for example, we did yoga with some of the kids (picture to the right). We also went to a park with them a couple of times. It was amazing to see how motivated everybody was to learn things or how advanced some of the children already were in a language that was not even their mother language. Though there obviously was a language barrier, it was super easy to communicate with everybody.

To be honest, the talks that I had at the hostel in general were the thing that made my experience so unique: I learned so much about different lifestyles, different cultures and experiences, that I have never experienced in my whole live, which also made me change my perspectives on everything. Also, the community we have had there was a huge part of me feeling super comfortable there: Not only my students or the loving and generous families at the hostel, but also the team of volunteers and workers at the hostel made my time super enjoyable. I have made super close friendships in such a short period of time, which made leaving super hard.

All in all, this experience at the welcommon hostel was super intense, because of all the new things I have learned, but so very worth the while, exactly because of these changes concerning my perspective etc. I gained so much, because of this amazing community, for myself and also for my way of thinking for the future and seeing things in a different light.

Bente Wilkens, 16.09.21, Techau, Germany

Andrea A., volunteer: These activities help people to know better not only about other cultures but also about themselves

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Hi! My name is Andrea Alberizzi.  I am a 29-year-old Italian teacher an PhD student. During summer I love travel around the word with humanity project in order to discovers new cultures and helping the integrations of people around the world.

This summer I spent a month in Athens at welcommon hostel participating in the European Solidarity Corps project “green social innovation for young persons”, implemented by the social cooperative Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal and the experience was amazing.

I met many people coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and even from Africa. We knew each other every day involving in different activities. I had the opportunity to learn their culture and to understand what conditions push them to let their country following the European dream. In exchanged I helped them to learn English every day and I also started a boxe course in which refugees could practice sports together.

I had a great time even with the other volunteers, wonderful people with a huge energy and very impressive mood involving all the time to help refugees to feel better as at their own home.

I can’t wait to come back in Athens and to get the opportunity to replicate that adventure even in another contest. These activities help people to know better not only about other cultures but also about themselves,

I grew up a lot and I felt less useless towards people coming from all around the world and looking for a better future.

I will never forget this experience.

Andra S., volunteer: It made me step out of my comfort box a lot of times, and made me personally grow

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Hello, I am Andra, I’m from Estonia and currently taking a gap-year before I start my university.

I participated as a volunteer of Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal in the Welcommon Hostel with the support of the “European Solidarity Corps”, from the 14th of August 2021 until the 19th of September 2021. My main tasks were teaching the refugees English and art.

I was teaching refugees both from the hostel and from outside. I had an English beginner, English Intermediate/Advanced class and an Art class.

In my beginner class, we mostly learned new vocabulary and tried to form sentences. It’s really interesting to try to teach a language without having another language to explain things or translate to. But that’s when creativity and google come really handy. I used pictures from my computer, drew on the board or tried to explain it in body language as best as I could. It made me step out of my comfort box a lot of times, and made me personally grow.

In Advanced class, we had conversations, learned grammar, watched a series and did listening exercises. I tried to have as many different exercises as possible to improve their English as much as I could. We also had conversations about their travels to Greece. It was really shocking to hear about what they have been through and about all the struggles they have had, and are still having with trying to get passports and documents. I really enjoyed talking to them. It really gave me a new perspective of how to look at things.

Art class was really fun to do, there were a lot of talented people there. We did exercises to improve our imagination and creativity, talked about basic “rules” and techniques of drawing and discovered some color psychology. The amount of students depended on a day, on some days I had only 3 but on the other days the class was full. I have never taught art before, but I really loved it.

Staying at the Welcommon Hostel also gave me the opportunity to participate in classes of other volunteers. I learned “how to learn” with an amazing French volunteer Thomas and also got to learn some Greek with a German girl named Julia.

Of course everyday I learned more about different cultures – Afghanistan, German, Italian, French, USA, you name it, people were from all parts of the world. I made connections with so many different people and at some point, the hostel really started to feel like home. For my personal experience I learned how to be more organized, how to lead a group, how to deal with different situations and how to be a better teacher. On some evenings we also took kids, who live at the hostel, to the park. That teached me a lot about responsibility.

The experience really changed my mindset, gave me a whole new perspective and turned me into a better human. I feel a lot more motivated to help other people as much as I can, and now I understand their stories and lives a lot better.

I’m super thankful for this experience and can’t wait to see what the future holds for everyone.

See you soon!

Magali and Salomé, two of our Volunteers: It was an amazing experience. We learnt many things: new cultures, languages.

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Hi we are Magali and Salome, we have spent some weeks volunteering with Anemos Ananeosis in Athens, in July and August 2021

Magali

A rich and memorable experience, that’s how I would describe the 7 weeks I spent volunteering with Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal in the Welcommon Hostel.  

Being a volunteer in the ESC project “Green Social Innovation for Young Persons” has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Volunteering with Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal here, in this inclusive hostel – Welcommon Hostel, implies doing so many different activities, discovering and learning a wide range of things. I did not expect to learn so much.  

Therefore, it is a tough task for me to summarize these 7 weeks that have been so rich and fulfilling. 

First, I would say that I have learnt so much from spending time with the refugees leaving within the hostel. I spent most of my time with them. Nearby the reception, there are artistic works made by Fatima and her class, they use this beautiful phrase to refer about refugees “brave travellers”. This phrase summarize perfectly my thoughts. I spent most of my time with the families, and I had never seen in my life so brave and generous people. They considered me as a member of their family, offered me food, and spent so many time talking, sharing and laughing in spite of the language barrier.  

They trusted me, enough to take care of their children, to bring me with them during their family activities (birthdays, Sundays at the beach, afternoon at the park, restaurants, circumcision party…) but also to share with me their deeply moving stories. 

I also spent a lot of time with the kids. First during the kid activities we organised; salt dough, masks, pizza, cake activities, but also going to the park every day or even spending time in the kids’ room. Of course, taking care of kids who used to live under the bombing or/and in a camp is pretty challenging. Each of them requires a special attention and dedication. But they are, on top of everything, full of love to give and receive.  

Then, I also spent a lot of time with my students giving and preparing the languages lessons. Once again, this ‘task’ was pretty challenging as I had to teach to a great variety of people. They were all very different: due to their age, stories, levels in languages…. and therefore needed special attention and caring as well. Indeed, some of them could read but not speak, speak but not read, sometimes even in their own language. On top of that, due to their situation, they could not attend to class everyday: some would come one day, and then come back two weeks later for example. But step by step, weeks after weeks, I got more and more comfortable and I hope that I have pass on a bit of my knowledge to them.

But the sharing was not a one way sharing. They taught me a lot, certainly more than I did. They taught me a few words in Farsi or Arabic, they shared with me their stories, they also did oral presentations where they could talk about subjects that mattered to them and that they wanted to share. During these presentations, they talked about environment, feminisms, the situation in Afghanistan…. I am very grateful for this.

Moreover, I learnt a lot from the 3 receptionists: Mehran, Sajad and Thomas. They are dedicated to their tasks and would always give a hand when it is necessary. I was also impressed by their kindness and generosity. We also discussed about the situation in their countries (especially during the last days of my trip the Tabilans were to take Kabul) they taught me a lot about the history of this decades-long conflict.  

At first, when I arrived we were only two volunteers: Salomé and I. The 3 receptionists helped us so much. Being alone and not knowing what to do was extremely challenging. But they helped us and so did Idriss, one of the refugees here.  

With Salomé, we have known each other for 3 years now, but I have got to know her in a different way and learnt so much from her. She is so generous and open to others. She showed me how to bond with people.  

During the last weeks, I have also had the chance to meet other volunteers. Some of the previous ones like Thomas, and some new ones like Bente, Lilian, Andrea and Andra. The experience was totally different from what I had experience before. Sharing this experience with other volunteers made the experience completely. I actually enjoyed the few weeks I spent with them and wish I had spent more time with them.  

Finally, this experience reinforced my desire to work as a humanitarian worker. It also showed me that I have still a lot to learn if I want to help people, and especially refugees.  

Lastly, I would say that the only negative point about this experience in the Welcommon Hostel would be the logistic. This place has such a great potential and the idea is great. But, on the other hand, the lack of funds and organisation make it even harder for the volunteers. As far as I am concerned I think we could find a way to organise the continuation between volunteers. It is so challenging to enter a place without knowing what you have to do. For example, creating different poles to explain precisely what is the project: kids, teaching, socialising…  

THANK YOU FOR THIS GREAT JOURNEY !

Salomé

I am Salomé

I spent six weeks in Athens participating in the volunteering project “Green Social Innovation”, an ESC’s project implemented by Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal in the Welcommon Hostel. My everyday life is mainly organised depending on the classes I gave. From Monday to Thursday, I did 3 classes with refugees: one French class for beginners and two English classes (beginner and intermediate).

At the beginning, it was difficult for me to teach because some of my students (refugees from different countries) could neither read nor write. Also, new students joined the class everyday: especially in the beginner English class. But over time it was easier for me to teach, I felt more comfortable. Indeed, I knew my students better and I knew their rhythm. I loved my French class. My students were really thirst for learning. I taught them everyday words, words and verbs that they can use if they manage to go to a French-speaking country.

Moreover, from Monday to Friday at 6:00 pm, I used to go to the park with the kids. When we were only two volunteers, it was quite difficult to go to the park with the children because there were many of them (24 maximum). Fortunately, parents and single men were helping us. When we had time, we organized kid activities: painting, twister, Venetian masks, modelling clay; or even cooking activities with the older ones (Soeid, Amir, Elia, Anoar). We baked pizzas and cakes.

Taking care of children has brought us closer to them, but also to their parents. Indeed, many of them invited us to dinner after the park. Usually, it was kind of an excuse to hang out with us and tell us their stories. We also took part in Ahmad’s 10th birthday and Ahmad’s circumcision. I was able to create real bonds with the children but also with the parents. So, regularly, I would go to the beach or to the theme park with one of the families.

For my departure I received a wave of love from all the refugees.

It was an amazing experience. I learnt many things: new cultures, languages

Idir Q, volunteer: I recommend to everyone to have such an experience

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Having the desire to understand more the refugee situation in europe and all the issues it involves, I applied for a European Solidarity Corps program with Anemos Ananeosis (Wind of Renewal) in Athens within the Welcommon Hostel.

Greece, by way of its proximity with Turkey, is a passage country for millions of refugees coming from Asia and Africa and crossing the European border looking for a safe place to live. Women, men, children, families who ran away from war, oppression, hard life, find themselves piled up in camps, or sometimes in the urban jungle of Athens. In the middle of this, the Welcommon Hostel is a necessary transition place for refugees who are looking for a place to stay. It is a beautiful lab of multiculturalism and social exchange where meet volunteers, tourists, and refugees. The ecological conscience and the will of making the Welcommon Hostel an eco-responsible place through the work of the volunteers and the residents is also a part of the DNA of the hostel and the reason I decided to commit for 3 months and have this amazing experience.

In the hostel volunteers were able to benefit of a great freedom of action, and create different activities to make the refugees busy, particularly during the lockdown due to the pandemic. For my mission, entitled “Social and Green innovation for young people”, and with the help of the volunteers team, we imagined many workshops, classes and kids activities. When I arrived there were already different classes proposed to the residents who were completely free to attend, such as German and English class, sport class or history class. I then imagined and created a new one called “Society and Environmental class”, a sort of introduction to some social and ecological principles and issues. I organised this lesson as an open discussion with the students about things that “matters” to them. Through lessons about classical subject such as science or geography.

I always tried to keep an environmental approach in order to raise them awareness about ecological issues. For instance, I made a classical geography lesson about all the different climates we can find on the earth surface and turned it into an opening to the climate change questions and the effects of the greenhouse gas on the climate. The students of all ages, eager to learn, were very involved in the classes. I also learned a lot on my ability to teach something and realised that it could be a real vocation.

In addition to the classes, we organised many different workshops that could bring into light the skills owned by the residents and in our turn learn from them, in particular, with the cleaning and reorganisation of the backyard of the hostel. Indeed, knowing that summer and hot temperatures were coming back, we needed an outdoor place within the Welcommon Hostel to organise events, classes or simply to hang out.

The experience in the Welcommon hostel was culturally and socially enriching. The share environment of the volunteers and the residents allowed me to understand more the issues the refugees are faced to. I recommend to everyone who have time and motivation to have such an experience to be more aware of this reality and create or involve the collective conscience.