One Happy Family

December 2019

“OHF is a place that gives hope
somehow in the future
things will change!”

Situation on Lesvos

Arrivals in November
In the month of November, during which the weather has already got harsher with wind and rain, 105 boats have arrived on Lesvos as of the 29th. This is more than the whole amount of boats that arrived during the month of October, with 88 boat arrivals.
4.019 people reached Lesvos in these 105 boats. There have again been days with numbers like 11 boats arriving within 24 hours.

Numbers of people on the island
There have never been as many people stuck on the Aegean Islands as there are now. Currently almost 39.300 people are on the Islands (data from the 28th of November 2019).
On Lesvos there are more than 19.000 people in their asylum procedure.
This results in 16.824 people who reside inside and outside of Moria. This is the highest amount of people ever stuck on Lesvos. It is also the first time that more people are living in the nearby Olive Groves than in the main camp of Moria. These Olive Groves are either not officially seen as the camp or are rented by NGOs like Movement on the Ground and Refugee 4 Refugees in collaboration with Better Days.

Announcements by the Greek government
On Wednesday the 20th of November the Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas announced that Greece will close the so-called hotspot camps on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros and will instead install five closed pre-departure centers. It was announced that they will be ready by July 2020. The pre-departure centers will host 5,000+ people on Lesvos, Chios and Samos, 2,000+ on Kos and 1,000+ on Leros. These kinds of camps are reported to be on par with prisons.
At the same time, it was announced that 20,000 people would be relocated from the islands to the mainland in the beginning of 2020. This was announced earlier this year and should have happened by the end of November.

The main pillars of the plan of New Democracy (the new Greek government) are: Speeding up asylum procedures, quick deportations, de-congestion of the islands and increased surveillance measures at the land and sea borders. For this they have announced that a new body will be established.

Closed pre-departure center on Lesvos
The one on Lesvos is supposed to be set up in the area of Mistegna. Apparently, the mayors of this area were not informed about the new plans, despite the Greek government spokesman having said that everyone had been informed prior. The president of the Mistegna area, Panagiotis Katzanos, added that the villagers disagree with the building of this new structure.

The Municipality council of Lesvos denied unanimously to accept a new closed Center. They urge the government to decongest the island and ensure border control.

Violations against the law
Violations of Greek, European and international law by the Lesvos Regional Asylum Bureau have been reported by eight organizations active in the legal support of refugees and migrants. Specifically, by decision of the Head of the Office, 28 asylum seekers from African countries were rejected due to lack of interpretation without even being interviewed.

Closure of Stage 2
It has been announced that The Skala Sykamineas transit camp (named Stage 2), administered by the UNHCR, is to be closed. After arriving in the north people who reached the Island of Lesvos during the night or on the weekend have been brought to Stage 2, where medical support as well as a first reception took place. This has been ensured by NGOs and organisations working in the North of Lesvos. The next morning or the following Monday the people were transferred to Moria RIC. With the newly announced closure of Stage 2 it remains uncertain if these people will be brought now directly to Moria.

Greece supposed to have pushed back migrants and refugees
In recent newspaper articles Greece has been denounced to have supposedly pushed back 60.000 people illegally to Turkey. It was stated that people have been denied food or water by the Greek security authorities for some days in order to force them to return to Turkey. The people who have been pushed back are supposed to be mainly Afghans, Somalians, Bangladeshis, Algerians and Syrians.
Meet the Family_Fatima_Anwar


Fatima, Anwar, Islam & Noordine

We recently were waving a "see you soon" and "good luck" to four dear friends, family members, mentors, role models and valuable helping hearts and minds of One Happy Family.

Fatima, lovely Fatima, your kind heart, your patience and your love for all the children at One Happy Family will be very missed. When we first met, you were helping in the boutique - this is now almost 2 years ago. We had to close the boutique and you then helped to set up and run our new kids space "The Nest". You took over the supervision of it and of the kids – all the kids at OHF, and oh boy, how they loved you! You are their role model, they called you "mama", you took care of them, you educated them, you were there for them, everyday, for 2 years. You instructed new helpers and new volunteers to always provide the best for the kids. When all the kids in "the Nest" spoke Farsi and Dari, you simply learned their language to be able to communicate with them. You translated, mediated, you taught, you brought up important issues and solved them, you always had an open heart and an eye on everyone here on the ground. Fatima, it will be hard to fill your footsteps here at OHF with the pride, the dignity, the gentleness and the understanding that you brought with you, everyday, for 2 years.

After some months at OHF, you introduced us to your husband.
Once upon a time, on one of the beautification days, we needed a cupboard for our art table stuff. Thats when Anwar and One Happy Family became friends 😊! Always calm, always smiling, always friendly, extremely smart and talented - he became one of our very hard working carpenters and allrounders. Together with his team Anwar created beautiful constructions, furniture and seating spaces for all our visitors. Anwar is a leader, an uncle for his colleagues, a role model, a representative of his culture and a person everyone would look up too. He talked about serious topics, he talked about the difficult situation but he also made a lot of jokes and has a good sense of humour.
Anwar always found solutions for any problem, was it a mouse in the kids space, a broken window, bench, table, building a Christmas tree out of old wood, making kitchen windows out of metal, supporting the kitchen during Ramadan - he found solutions and helped for and in every situation. Anwar, you will stay in our mind and hearts, always with a meter in one hand and one of your kids in the other, smiling or making others smile.

Together with Anwar and Fatima we got to meet their beautiful daughter:
Islam Habibti, not one day passed in OHF without you making everybody's hearts melt. We met you, when you were only a few months old. One Happy Family quickly became your home, your second family. You knew everyone, everyone knew you. You grew so much, you changed so much, you learned how to speak Arabic, then English here, you started making friends with other kids, you taught us how to be positive everyday. Every morning when you entered the bus, everyone's mood lit up, you are so loved by all of us and deep in our hearts forever.

A few months ago, you became a big sister, a loving sibling of:
Noordine, we eagerly awaited your arrival last February and were all so happy to meet you. You are born into a wonderful, strong and loving family and environment. You made your first sounds here, you got your first haircut at OHF, you sat up for the first time here. From the first days your smile touched us all and oh, just as your father, you smiled everyday!

Fatima, Anwar, Islam and Noordine, we wish you all the best of luck for the future!

With a laughing and a crying eye we let you go last Monday and let you start a new chapter.
You will always be part of us and One Happy Family!
Words don't describe how grateful we are to meet you all!

News from the Community Centre

A surprise from us to you
OHF for us is “a place that gives hope – that, somehow, in the future things will change!” We will again have a special Advent Calendar for you on our Social Media, starting with a surprise on Sunday, 1st of December. :)

More women and kids at OHF
One Happy Family has always been the place on the island where men can come and spend their day – and we want to be this place. Many other projects focus on specific groups like children, families or women but most of the people stuck on the Islands are young men.
Nevertheless, we are happy to observe that more and more women and children are joining our activities as well. We notice it especially at the food line where the women’s’ food line reaches all the way to the school entrance almost every day now (for those who have been here, you can picture it) and we give out almost 200 children’s dishes. It’s a new challenge but with lots of songs, more female security, games (head – shoulders – knees and toes) and sooo many smiles from everyone we are managing.

It’s busy! :)
As stated above: OHF’s visitor numbers increased. By giving out drachma at our bank we always have a rough overview of how many people are visiting us. But, not everyone always goes and gets his or her drachma at the bank, and all the partners, helpers, volunteers and external visitors like volunteers from other organisations, media representatives etc. don’t pass by the bank. Nevertheless, on the 21st of November we gave out 1.660 adult drachma. Divided by 2, since every adult gets 2 drachma, this means 830 visitors passed by the bank. A very high number.

Spicy sauce
We are currently starting to distribute a new sauce two times a week – thank you Sam, our newest amazing kitchen supporter. There is chili, garlic and salt in the sauce. After being prepared it is fermented for one week. This sauce is not only yummy but brings many health benefits with pro- and prebiotics for all of our visitors.
Recycling at OHF
Sustainability is an ongoing topic, so our newest achievements are:
Recycling bins & education on how and what to recycle. The sustainability working group of OHF and its partners joined with the cleaning working group of OHF volunteers to not only install new recycling bins (see picture) but also to inform people about them in educational and artistic activities. So, from “Reduce, reuse, recycle” as the topic of English classes, a new plastic bottle green house in the garden, to ashtrays out of old cans, to talking to a lot to people about what to do with their plastic bottles – various ways, all together, because together for the better!
Media coverage about Lesvos
There recently has been an influx of journalists and other media representatives on Lesvos. In general this is an important aspect because the world needs to know what is happening here (and on the other islands as well). Nevertheless, we have a strict media and picture policy to protect the people who visit our safe space. We therefore always ask the people to write us beforehand regarding what exactly they want to cover in their reports and what they want to use the content for. A written consent from our adult visitors is needed to use the pictures as well. This consent form has to be brought by the media representatives. Pictures of children are in general are not allowed.
We’re always happy to see when someone really takes the time to be on the Island – to understand a bit more about everything before starting to take pictures and videos.

Preparations for winter
It’s getting colder and more rain is expected for the next weeks. At One Happy Family we are currently installing more outside roofs – to cover people from rain. At the same time we make sure to have heating inside the main hall and the other closed buildings. Nevertheless, with the average amount of visitors at the moment, we are worried about how we can handle this amount of people on rainy days. The main hall is already very crowded now. But here we need your support as well. With a cost of around 3000 Euros this isn’t a thing we can easily finance. But with all of you we could!

Picture of the month: Safe passage-socks

The Community Centre is clearly needed – what is needed as well is your support!
We are currently running low on donations and are worried how next year will go since the visitor numbers are rising and thus our expenses (especially those of the kitchen) have risen as well. Winter and Christmas time has – in the last year – always been that time where most of the donations towards OHF were made. And this is why we need all of you!

Our special Fundraising activity this year are safe passage socks in new colours and Olive Oil directly from Lesvos (the Olive Oil is unfortunately only available in Switzerland). Available now!
But, in general, every action you do counts!
We have updated fundraising material ready under this link: https://drive.ohf-lesvos.org/s/pfdT4tB29c3RefC If you have any question concerning fundraising we’re happy to answer your mail under fundraising@ohf-lesvos.org.
One Happy Family is only possible with the support of each one of you. Having to shut down services is not something we want to do. Having to worry about the financial aspects is difficult when knowing how many people need this place.
Thank you for your support!

Inside the projects: Toilets

Is access to a toilet a human right or a privilege?
Adequate sanitation is a human right, recognised by the UN. Here in Moria however, human rights and human reality don't go hand in hand.
With over double the maximum number of people per toilet (54 people per toilet) that humanitarian standards recommend (20 people per toilet), Moria is falling far behind in providing basic sanitation.
I remember my first day at One Happy Family, standing in a long queue of women, waiting patiently to use one of two humid (but clean) toilets. The experience was far from pleasant, yet no one complained. I soon learnt that queuing is simply a part of life for many people here. Queuing for 15 minutes to use a toilet, wasn't so bad for someone who lives in Moria camp, which was over capacity more than 13,000 inhabitants ago.
Here in OHF, both our women's and men's toilets are kept as clean as possible, with constant attention and preening from our helpers. The only downside is their capacity.
We are therefore currently improving our toilet facilities and have plans in place to increase the number of toilets available to both women and men.
Only this week we were donated a women's toilet container by Médecins Sans Frontières. Thank you, MSF!
However, there is still a long way to go to get this installed.
(Written by India, volunteer at One Happy Family)
Toilets at OHF: Update
Recently new urinals for the men have been installed, thus there are now 5 toilets and 7 urinals available. This improves the toilet situation for our dear men massively.
The women’s toilet situation is in improvement modus as well: We recently got a women’s toilet container donated from Médecins Sans Frontières – thank you so much! So we’re using funding we got from various sides now for the installation of this container: We’re building a base to put the container in between the Medical Clinic and the Women house – where it is very needed. We will, as soon as we’re able to open the new toilet container, have 6 toilets available for the women and a very good baby changing station. Thanks again to MSF and everyone who is supporting us with funds for this toilet.
Content: Julia Bürge, India Ashworth, Jael Tobler
Date: 30/11/2019
One Happy Family | https://ohf-lesvos-org | info@ohf-lesvos.org | @ohflesvos
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