2017 brought a new direction to I AM YOU. In December 0f 2016 it had been decided that I AM YOU would focus on two areas and develop them into core competencies. These two areas are: Education and Lifelines.
Internally we have also planned to use 2017 to implement more rigors into our programme planning and further develop and codify the I AM YOU way way within the humanitarian context so that we can increase the positive impact we have on people’s lives.
Ritsona Refugee Camp
We received a fully qualified English teacher in the first quarter that has been able to organize all the class levels from curriculum to teaching materials to guidance on how to teach within a camp setting. The work she delivered was invaluable and a prime example of how the volunteers help shape I AM YOU into a better organization. We now have ABC classes, two more women only classes, numeracy classes, an IELTS class and conversational English classes.
Within the school however, we are also providing Greek and German lessons, as these are the key languages that people wish to learn. Both teachers are qualified language teachers and have developed strong relationships with their class groups.
A resident teacher got funding to teach basic computer literacy to the camp community. The teacher has 8 laptops that allow his students (who follow an intensive programme that has an exam at the end) to learn the basics so that once they move country they have a skill, which they can build on. The class is taught in a blend of Arabic and English and has both male and female students.
We have paired up with Lighthouse Relief to deliver a teenage programme to the youth (15 – 24 year olds) who live within the camp. This demographic unfortunately does not go to any formal education activity off site and therefore can end up both bored and neglected. Therefore with Lighthouse Relief we have created a programme that allows the teens to express them either through art projects (graffiti on selected containers, art exhibition, building the tree of hope, story telling through photography) and also the written word as the programme is now developing a magazine for the community written and produced by the teens. The programme also aims to integrate the young adult population with the camp community as the older population can find their exuberance challenging. Therefore a lot of the exhibitions and art projects are also for the wider benefit of the living conditions within the camp.
We have been supporting the development of a theatre production. The play has been written by a member of the community, is being directed by another and is starting 6 of the teenagers in the camp. We are hoping to actually put it on in a theatre in Chalkida!
The pre-school at Ritsona is doing very well and goes from strength to strength. The main success of this programme is that we have a constant volunteer who is a pre-school teacher and is supplied by the municipality. Therefore, this has allowed us to build trust and consistency with the children and there parents. From June onwards we are looking to develop a second pre-school class at a later date.
The primary school children are still attending the formal education programme developed by the Greek state. However, we are currently sourcing more educational ISO boxes so that we can run Arabic and Kurdish lessons. The issue is that we have no space at present for these lessons.
The primary school children also receive a lunch pack as they attend afternoon classes and this lunch pack is funded by and provided by: Café Rits. Therefore a big thank you to them as they have committed to this project until the end of the year.
The volleyball team is ever growing and we now have teams across several age groups. One of the current volunteers plans to improve the court area, as the gravel is less then ideal. Furthermore Cafe Rites is planning in the summer months to bring in a local volleyball team for some more in depth training.
Oinofyta Refugee Camp
We have launched our computer lab initiative in Oinofyta in conjunction with Do Your Part. The idea of the computer lab is that it enables the community to access online courses from universities across the world. This means that they can study what interests them and also can increase their accredited qualifications in their time here. Overall – this is an opportunity to provide more individualization and hope in completing a course the will proved them with better prospects in the future. At present there is only a single lab and therefore the genders are segregated. We hope that is this is a success that we will increase the number of containers and desktops so that we can allow more people and also allow them more time in their educational development.
The Youth Activity programme within Oinofyta has a much tougher time. The camp itself has a lot of social issues and there is a larger group of male minors that cause tension amongst the older population. But the team here has rallied under a returning volunteer who has found ways to engage with a diverse group of teens and that has been achieved through cricket and guitar lessons. The Oinofyta team also need larger outside spaces to do more impactful work, as this is what catches the attention and interest of the young adult population. Within the programme here there are a lot of fluctuations and the volunteers are constantly adapting and thinking on their feet. But they never give up on the teens and have over time certainly built relationships with the young boys and also respect amongst the community.
The Oinofyta pre-school is now too small for the capacity of children that come. We are therefore working with the other education providers in camp to be able to expand the space. We have also managed to have a lower age limit of 3 as there is no day care facility within this camp and therefore mothers are not able to have a break. However, having children that are under 3 is disruptive to the learning of the other children. We have two past volunteers who are planning on fundraising for a pre-school teacher for Oinofyta, as they are aware the children would benefit from the consistency.
The Lifelines programme has increased capacity to reaching over 85 runs in a month for medical transports alone. Cases have ranged from ovarian cancer, miscarriages, broken arms and 2nd degree burns.
Furthermore the Lifelines programme has increased the number of legal runs that is it providing the community. Simply put there is not enough public transportation to ensure people arriving in time for either their asylum or embassy appointments in Athens. We have therefore supplemented to official transportation to families who would have otherwise missed their appointment due to disorganization of the timetable.
We have also made a proposal to expand the Lifelines Programme into Oinofyta as the camp manager feels it is a unique proposition and would make a positive impact to the community.
CHILD FRIENDLY SPACE
We have hired a Child Safety Project Manager to scope out the potential of creating a Child Friendly Space in Oinofyta and adding to our programming. The other actors at Oinofyta approached I AM YOU and asked us to take on and manage a child friendly space. This space would not be for educational purposes but instead for psychosocial support. It would also allow for further community cohesion as the children would have somewhere to go that would provide both a safe space but also a nurturing environment in regards to their psychological development. However, it would also aid the parents in being able to either do their household chores or get care themselves.
April 2017 onwards:
1. Collaboration with Thistle Farm Project:
- Introduction of a social enterprise for the female population.
- Weaving mats and selling them in the USA
- Proceeds to pay women and go back into community
2. Reintroduce Arabic and Kurdish classes to the primary school age population
3. Create a vocational training programme for the 18+ population
4. Introduce a computer lab into Ritsona
5. Raise funds for a mini van for the hospital run team
The "I AM YOU" FILM
Looking for Progress & Development Report: January 2017? Click here