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Ελληνικά
A LETTER TO YOU WHO KEEPS THE FIGHT FOR DIGNITY
Since the eviction of PIKPA's residents at the end of October, workers and volunteers of Lesvos Solidarity also had to face many and difficult challenges. We had countless assemblies where we assessed the urgent needs of the people evicted but also of other refugees, asylum seekers, and locals in Lesvos and the best way the organization could respond based on our experience and collective skills. We started from the base, restructuring Lesvos Solidarity´s multiple active projects to adapt to the current situation in the most optimal way: Mosaik Support Center, Safe Passage Bags, Humade Crafts Workshop, and the new Asklipios MHPSS teams had been actively collaborating to build a strong proposal for this 2021 that continues with the struggle in Lesvos in the middle of a pandemic, illegal push backs and a camp with more than 7.000 people living exposed to extreme weather conditions.

Emptying PIKPA after the evacuation was hard. It was hard to dismantle the small wooden houses where thousands of people had found refuge and safety, it was also hard watching how that small forest that once was filled with children voices now is guarded by the police while the PIKPA team rushed to take everything out before meeting the deadline imposed by the Urban Planning office. Lesvos Solidarity donated the ISO boxes used in PIKPA as offices to the local hospital and to Mytilene's Health Center and rented a big warehouse to store the remaining equipment and donations. This is how a new system for NFIs and clothes distribution was set up to reach the people in the new camp.
The PIKPA construction team once again did an amazing job refurbishing Asklipios building to be ready to receive patients for the new MHPSS program. 

We are very happy to share with you the results of this collective effort in this newsletter. 

As the pandemic goes on and the people in the new camp (alternatively called Moria 2.0 or New Kara Tepe) are once again forbidden to move freely in and out, Mosaik Support Center is a space of respite for people and has had to adapt itself and its activities several times over the past year. We are still trying to provide people living in the camp with a way to spend their time meaningfully: while stuck in their tents, we reach and teach them via whatever way available to them – sometimes Skype, more often WhatsApp. Teaching via WhatsApp is not easy: it is often difficult to stick to a schedule because of circumstances in the camp, students don’t always have data for the internet, they have to copy the material sent to them over the phone into notebooks (if they have any), and that’s aside from the difficulties communicating over small screens and with a lot of background noise. But most of the students are very motivated, and the commitment to their homework shows an admirable determination to learn.

Aside from the people in the camp, recent developments have also led to a new group of students: people who have received a positive decision to their asylum request, often have found a place to live in town or have alternative accommodation, and need to find their way to build a life in Greece. Their practical circumstances make it easier to establish a routine for classes and homework, they may have access to a laptop (sometimes we can lend them one) so we can use more teaching-friendly technology, such as Zoom and/or the online platform Blackboard. We keep the classes small, sometimes several people from the same family or people who were friends before, and generally meet twice a week. The focus is mostly on languages (Greek and English), but we’re looking to take up computer classes again, as well as resume cv -writing and other useful skills.

Humade Crafts Workshop has also taken a step forward to online education in these times of COVID with its YouTube channel where one can be informed on how to create useful, beautiful items and artistic creations made completely out of discarded materials, following easy steps, visually explained, accesible to a universal audience. Meanwhile, several other initiatives have started, one of each is a mask-making workshop working with different materials. The workshop is offered to groups of 3 people at a time, to comply with COVID restrictions. The groups includes both adults and minors, foreigners and locals, and takes place at Humade's space, which is and has been a place to meet, interact and meet people with very different backgrounds, needs, and skills.

Also Humade is participating for the second time at the Fashion Revolution organization, this year taking part at the Raise Your Voice festival (in April 2021) with workshops and presentations.

In the context of the #IWD 2021, seven women and one doll gathered in Humade to create a unique stop motion short movie, exposing gender based violence and women repression. The doll was made exclusively out of discarded vintage bras.

Last but not least, a successful Humade initiative that has had a great and positive impact in the local community is the Το Θέλεις; (Do You Want It?) Facebook group, where members can offer for free things that they don't want or need anymore.
 

Safe Passage Bags has been busy creating a new collection with dinghy boats. For the first time, each team member created at least one original design, cooperating and supporting each other with different ideas for shapes and products. Currently, due to the lack of life jackets, the old models were redesigned in the new collection. The products have added fabric from second-hand clothes (from the donated clothes that are too large or damaged to be worn) and dinghies that have been collected from the sea shores, cleaned, cut, and shaped to create resistant waterproof backpacks, hip bags, and many other products that you can find in the eShop.

As the collaboration with Humade continues, this time with the creation of wallets made out of second-
hand clothes pieces, a new collaboration started with Lesvos Solidarity screen printing workshop: Π-ink, where face masks were printed with an original design that represents what safe passage means.

Winter came in the Aegean and despite all the pressure by many actors - including Lesvos Solidarity - to evacuate Moria 2.0 and speed up relocation across Europe, the Greek authorities and European Union continue their cruel and violent policies. Over 6500 men, women, and children remain trapped in tents in the mud in Moria 2.0 amid freezing temperatures, heavy rainstorms, and ice-cold winds. To add insult to injury, the GR government and the European Commission continue to deny the seriousness of the situation on the ground and misrepresent the reality, also in the European Parliament. They continue to claim that “many improvements” have been made and they are close to meeting the “humanitarian standards”. While in reality, they continue to put thousands of women, men, and children at great risk. 


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Overview MHPSS project

The target of this project is to provide mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for cases of either refugees or locals with increased mental health needs in Lesvos island. Social inclusion and access to social rights are among the scopes of this project. 

In Lesvos Solidarity we consider an alternative approach to mental health, through workshops, training, and active participation for the people receiving services. We recognize that all people carry weaknesses but we focus on the strengths and through our work, we aim to empower and support people who are facing challenges in Lesvos island. 

The team consists of different professionals that collaborate closely. Every intervention is designed with feedback from different fields, making the approach interdisciplinary. Our goal is to create a network of broader collaborations to better understand how we need to adapt our services according to the needs, i.e., public hospitals, public schools, and other actors providing MHPSS services on the island. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the interventions will be adapted to the conditions and regulations, i.e., online workshops. The pandemic affected the mental health of the majority of the population, both locals and refugees. In Asklipios the aim will be to assess the needs and offer interventions adapted to the population.  

In psychosocial support, the focus is on self-expression & empowerment moving towards life skills seminars connected to life and career opportunities. Crisis management and resolution are also of the main themes covering the agenda of the seminars and workshops.

We could consider the services provided to be under the following categories

  • medical
  • psychological
  • social
  • life skills

Overview Housing project

As Lesvos Solidarity, we have always been advocating in favor of dignified accommodation for all refugees and asylum seekers. Witnessing the situation in Lesvos island, in regards to housing, we challenge ourselves to show that alternative accommodation is always feasible. Overcrowded camps, and especially detention centers, are not proper for people with increased needs of safety and protection. 

Our aim through the “housing” project is dual      

  • support recognised asylum seekers in finding self-accommodation on the island (especially the ones who are accepted in the HELIOS programme, ran by IOM)

  • provide safe accommodation to either asylum seekers or refugees 

In both cases, realising that the environment in Lesvos island is intense and sometimes hostile towards refugees, we aim to create a network of landlords that are positive about renting a house/apartment to refugees. As Lesvos Solidarity, we will mediate the whole procedure with the landlord and if necessary with the neighborhood. 

Self-autonomy of the refugees accommodated in the houses is the ultimate goal but we understand that to reach autonomy needs support. Support in many levels starting with providing safe shelter and following with providing access to services. 

Therefore, the “housing” project is in immediate and close collaboration with the “MHPSS” project for any instance that might require case management services. A caseworker will be appointed for supporting these socially and responding to their needs.

 

Target Population

We are trying not to limit our services to particular groups. We are designing our services considering various groups, i.e., students, youth, single women, patients, locals, refugees. 

The “housing” project will initially aim in providing support for single women, single mothers, and people with medical needs. 

Following the eviction of PIKPA, our team continues to support some ex-residents of PIKPA mainly in two services: medical and social. 
 

Workshops by MHPSS program in Asklipios

The series of workshops introduced by MHPSS in Asklipios center will focus on the mental health of the participants throughout psychosocial activities and meetings.

The participants will engage in practices of self-expression, acceptance, approaching alternative ways of active living while developing personal life skills and exploring different aspects of personal and professional orientation. The workshops will introduce self-and social- empowerment tools aiming at building self-awareness and critical thinking. Resilience and togetherness are the core values cultivated in the meetings while at the same time strengthening the social net of the island's residents (refugee and local population). With experiential learning techniques and theatre/drama activities, we will draw the focus to community bonding by story exchange and by creating a trustful environment of common experiences.

The target group based on pandemic restrictions will initially be the ex-residents and mainly women of PIKPA while we aim to also reach a broader spectrum of participants soon, mixing locals and refugees, adolescents and young people 19-25.

If you are interested in supporting our mission, you can find the link to our WEBSITE and our banking details:

 

Account name: LESVOS SOLIDARITY

Address: Sapfous 9, 81100, Mytilene, Lesvos, Greece

Bank: National Bank of Greece

Bank’s address: Kountouriotou 77, Mytilini, 81100 Lesvos

GreeceAccount Number: 762/001341-20

ΙΒΑΝ: GR06 0110 7620 0000 7620 0134 120

SWIFT (BIC) ETHNGRAA

 

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