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.