One Happy Family

August 2019

Situation on Lesvos

Weather conditions
Summer in Lesvos is always very hot, and the sanitary conditions in Moria camp are still below basic. Luckily there haven’t been any bushfires yet. We've tried to prepare ourselves at OHF: you can read more about it below, in the News from the Community centre section.

Many boats arriving
This month the number of arrivals increased significantly: 52 boats with 1,828 people until the 26th of July. The number of people arriving exceeded again the number of transfers to the mainland.
There has also been an increase of boats stopped by the Turkish Coast Guard. Until the 23rdof July “217 boats have been stopped by the Turkish Coast Guard and Police, and 6,878 people have been arrested. This is the highest number registered in one month since 2015” (Source: Aegean Boat Report).

Aftermath of the Greek Elections
The bureaucratic aspects on the island have become more difficult after the Greek national elections, in which Kyriakos Mitsotakis was elected Prime Minister.

At the moment getting a tax number has become more difficult because the process has changed and is a lot longer than before. And currently it isn’t possible to get a social security number for people who don't hold a European passport.
Both numbers are needed to be employed. Some highly skilled people have thus seen their job offers declined because they can’t get these needed documents.

There are reports that indicate the Greek Migration Ministry could be part of the Police Department in the future – so issues regarding migration would be considered security topics and no longer handled as social issues.

We have also observed a rise in police controls.

The situation has therefore become increasingly tense after these new developments.

Turkey suspends the EU readmission program
After more than three years of the EU-Turkey deal, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, announced on the 24thof July that the migrants readmission agreement with the European Union would be suspended.

Inside the projects: Coordination Team

“Being a coordinator is easy. It’s like riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire – you’re on fire – everything’s on fire.”
(unknown author)

What often looks like calmly working on a laptop in the office, or just comfortably talking to people is much more than this. A coordinator is available 24/7, wakes up with dozens of phone messages and the certainty that this day, like every day, will not be an easy one. OHF has seven coordinators who are responsible for different tasks and duties, ranging from security and construction to development and social-media, and including among others logistics and human resources. Everyone has his and her responsibilities, but the coordination team at One Happy Family still makes the important decisions as a group and in consensus, which requires time for discussions to develop common values and goals. But most importantly, the coordination team brings stability to the project and has the trust of suppliers, partners, helpers, visitors, volunteers, authorities, and other organisations.

In order to maintain the stability of the project and to reduce the stress for coordinators at OHF, we financially support their living costs and expenses. If you agree that riding a bike while everything is on fire is not the easiest thing to do, consider supporting our coordinators and take a sponsorship on https://ohf-lesvos.org/en/sponsorships/

#MeetTheFamily: Julia

#MeetTheFamily #HelpToHelp

Support our coordinators on the ground – with your help they are able to continue their important work.

Today you’ll get to know Julia a little bit better.

Julia is our social media queen, all while handling coordination tasks, supporting the shift and volunteer coordination, and doing case work for our helpers. It’s been over two years now that Julia shares her positive spirit with all of us.
This is what she says about her first stint in Lesvos, and the reasons she continues here:
“I met the One Happy/crazy/tired/funny/hard-working Family for the first time in June 2017, as a regular short-term volunteer. I realized quickly that if I really wanted to understand the place and be a constant support for the people I met, I had to stay long-term. Quick thoughts and fast actions ensued, and my family, friends and I filled a van with winter clothes, blankets and sleeping bags and drove down to Greece. And here I am: volunteering at OHF since October 2017. I am happy, exhausted, satisfied, angry about the situation, tired, learning new things, and facing new difficulties every day.

Before I came to OHF, I travelled and worked in countries where people fled from to reach Europe. That provoked the need in me and gave me the background to come and volunteer in Greece. I want to give people a hand when they reach Europe, the same way they all gave me a hand when I travelled to their countries and I was lost, a little scared, disoriented and without money in Iran, Kurdistan, Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt, Senegal and other countries. I want to give back what I warmly received in other people’s homes far away from here.

Being at OHF still feels a little bit like travelling. I get to know different cultures, learn different dances, taste different food, learn new languages, meet new people from different origins and make new friends.

What keeps me here is the team spirit, the smiles, the laughter, the solidarity, the acceptance of one another, and the fight for humanity and for better days.”

We can’t imagine OHF without Julia’s thoughtful decisions, her smart laughter, her beautiful soul. Julia has now started distance education, studying social work - all while continuing her work at OHF!

Thank you Julia for being who you are, for standing up for what is right and for sharing your smile with us!
“Being a coordinator is easy. It’s like riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire – you’re on fire – everything’s on fire.” (unknown author)

News from the Community Centre

As you could read in the previous newsletter, mainly people from Afghanistan are stuck on Lesvos at the moment. Nevertheless we can observe some demographical changes again, with more people from Congo arriving. OHF stands for every community, so we always try to include in our helpers team people from each region.

African Culture Day
What a day!
On the 18th of July, we celebrated at One Happy Family African diversity with a series of concerts, dance shows, plays, poetry readings and workshops. Artists from Somalia, Ghana, DR Congo, Cameroon, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Guinea teamed up with our volunteers to celebrate the beauty and diversity of African cultures, but also to share them with our visitors from other parts of the world. From Ndombolo-style dancing to traditional braiding, including contemporary art on our walls and West-African fufu in the kitchen, One Happy Family said it loud and proud: This time for Africa!
As many of the asylum seekers arriving recently on Lesvos come from different African countries, we wanted newcomers to feel welcome, and existing camp residents to learn more about these diverse cultures from Africa. The understanding of cultural differences is key for a peaceful and respectful coexistence. Also, there’s nothing like dancing to the beat of Cameroonian and Congolese music to relieve tensions among communities, make new friends and forget for a moment the stress of daily life in the camp!

Emergency training and risk reduction at OHF
As mentioned above there haven’t been any bushfires so far. Since experiencing a fire last summer, this year we have tried to establish a safety zone around the OHF premises: there is now a 10-meter tree-and-bush free zone surrounding our area.
We also had safety trainings once again: one focused on firefighting, and the other, a first aid training. These trainings don't only help us secure OHF, but also help each person working at the centre learn about these important issues, so they can also share this knowledge in their communities.
The third part of this day of workshops was a lecture on how to get an AFM, the Greek tax number. People need this number and the AMKA (the Social Security number) to be employed.

Summer time sports
Our sports partner, Yoga and Sports for Refugees, is offering classes all through the summer as well. Running, kickboxing, muay thai, yoga, football, afro dance, wrestling, bodybuilding, parkour, and also special classes for women: yoga, fitness and boxing, swimming... they have over 150 students coming to do sports everyday!
Teams from Yoga and Sports for Refugees have also often participated in races all around the island of Lesvos, winning already quite a lot of medals and cups – Bravo! And the runners keep running and racing once they get to the mainland!

Their team is also getting in the water again together with the Spanish lifeguards Proem-Aid for the very popular swimming classes for men and women!

Two professors of the University of the Aegean are coming once a week to OHF to run different webinars to support the integration of refugees. Topics include how to write a CV, find a job, general asylum rights, or environmental topics.
Their aim is to find highly qualified people to include in their University programs.

Picture of the month

Congratulations: One Happy Family has a new Baby Brother!
WhatsApp Image 2019-07-25 at 08.36.07
In October last year, just nine months ago, The Lava Project was only a twinkle in OHF's eye. It didn’t have a name or a location but it definitely had a purpose.
Just 4 kilometers from our bustling and cheerful community centre lies one of the ugliest scars on the conscience of Europe, the notorious Moria refugee camp. Conditions in Moria are widely known and publicized, and for many years this camp has held the dubious 'honor' of being the worst in Europe.
Hygiene and cleanliness standards are way below acceptable, and overcrowding and lack of basic facilities have lead to many physical and mental health issues. Depending on the population size, which varies from 4-7,000, there can be 70-120 people per toilet or shower. One of the major issues is the inability of having clothes and bedding washed (and as a result scabies is a big problem in Moria), and with this in mind the baby brother was conceived. The new independent NGO and OHF partner is run by one of our longterm volunteers, and is situated in Moria village, halfway between OHF and the camp.

The Lava Project is a high volume laundry service for the Moria camp residents. With the help of other NGOs, the project is first tackling the laundry needs of vulnerable people: single mothers, single women and unaccompanied teenagers.
The project took its first steps just four weeks ago and in that period of time it has washed 450 large bags of laundry. Once the new electricity supply is connected and all the machines installed, it should be able to handle the laundry of 3,000 persons a month.
We are not their only sister organization, as the Lava Project counts so far with the amazing support of Help Refugees, Together for Better Days, Help International and Movement on the Ground. There are more partners that will join as the project expands, soon fulfilling a real need that will improve the terrible living conditions in this nightmarish camp.
WhatsApp Image 2019-07-25 at 08.40.38
Content: Capucine Coninx, Ross Ireland, Fabian Bracher, Jael Tobler
Date: 26/7/2019
One Happy Family | https://ohf-lesvos-org | info@ohf-lesvos.org | @ohflesvos
CH23 0079 0016 9736 1524 7 (CHF) | CH36 0079 0016 9737 1172 2 (EUR)
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