pic of bike repair project in makerspace

One Happy Family

June 2019

Situation on Lesvos

This month, as of the 27th May, there have been 501 arrivals the Island on 17 boats. This brings the total number of arrivals to Lesvos this year at 3,225.

There have been 1,017 transfers to the mainland this month, with a total of 4,600 being transferred to the mainland from Lesvos this year. Although these transfers are a positive step, there are still 6,667 refugees residing on the Island. 120 boats, with 3,658 people on board, have been stopped by the Turkish Coast Guard/Police in May. These people were arrested in Turkey for illegal crossing of the border.

Acquittal of the Refugees in the Sappho Square Protest
110 Refugees were on trial for events occurring on the 22ndApril 2018 at Sappho Square in Mytilini. The charges ranged from resistance against authorities, rioting, to illegal occupation of public property. On 9thApril 2019, the Court of Mytilini found the 110 Refugees not-guilty of all charges against them. Find out more in the press release of the Legal Centre of Lesvos: https://legalcentrelesvos.org/2019/05/11/trial-of-sapfous-122-not-guilt-verdict-on-all-charges/

Local elections
Soon, the local elections in Greece are coming up. We are concerned about the outcome and how it will impact the lives of many people having to consider Greece their new home.

Some more insights
This month several newspapers wrote about the conditions on Lesvos and Samos again. We want to share two articles with you:

Inside the projects

Walking past the makerspace is always an interesting experience. It usually entails dodging sparks, jumping over bikes or being wowed by their latest low-tech inventions. The makerspace low-tech lab is one of the newest projects in One Happy Family, starting last December. The aim of the project is creating simple technologies to meet the basic needs of the refugees living here. To give you an example, last month the team made a rocket stove out of a metal barrel, an olive can (we’re in Greece after all) and other recycled materials. This offers a super-clean and hyper-efficient way to burn wood for cooking.
One of the space’s great successes over the past month has been their bike rental and repair project (see head-picture). French volunteer Pierre, who kick-started the project, shows refugees who come into the makerspace with broken bikes, how to repair them.
‘The idea is that I teach the people who are coming,’ he explains. ‘If the guy left his bike all day, he would come back in the evening and it would still be broken, I would not touch it at all because this is not the concept. It’s really about getting some skills on the way not just getting the bikes fixed.’

Thanks to the project it is now a common sight to see refugees cycling around Lesvos. ‘It’s really nice to see someone come in with a bike that’s really broken and then cycle back to Moria with it,’ Pierre says. ‘Or you see them in town, you know they live really far away and then you see them next to the airport, fishing.’

The Makerspace has two helpers, Mehdi and Mohammad who specialize in carpentry and metal work respectively. Visitors and volunteers regularly come into the space asking them to fix broken appliances or make them unique gifts. Next month, the makerspace will host bike mechanic classes to teach participants professional skills that could allow them to work in a bike shop. This is another important aim of the space - to teach refugees skills that they can use to better their futures and get jobs.

‘Like learning English or Greek, you could also learn welding and we think it’s important,’ Pierre adds. ‘It also it gives confidence to the people to be to do things for themselves and get back to work.’
a pic of Mehdi from the makerspace standing by a solar oven made for the rescue boat Mare Liberum


Hello, my name is Alem and I am from Afghanistan. I work at One Happy Family as head of the security team.

When I arrived in Greece, I used to stay in Moria all the time. One of my roommates used to be a teacher back home and asked me if I spoke English. I said no, so he encouraged me to get out of Moria and to start learning something. I used to go to One Happy Family to exercise at the gym, meet people and make some friends, so I took him there to show him the place and to hang out. Within a week he started working there as a teacher, and I started going to English classes every day.

I have some experience in security, and really liked the place, so I wanted to become a helper. After six months when my English was better I asked to be part of the team. I was given a one-week trial and I was very happy. That was last August and I have been working at One Happy Family ever since.

I like the place and I like the people, all of them… the volunteers, the visitors… and all the projects. My favorite projects are the English classes, I think they are so useful.
I also like the gym and the clinic. You can also learn about other cultures here.
Alem_OHF Security
“We shared our sadness and happiness and our secrets - as a family.”
Majid, coordinator
about the team building trip

News from the Community Centre

Celebrating Ramadan
Our Centre has been unusually quiet this past month, as many visitors have preferred to stay in the camps to conserve their energy. However, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, this all changes as 500 visitors are bussed from Moria to have a special Iftar dinner prepared by the kitchen team. On these nights, volunteers put out rows of pallets covered in colorful blankets and dish out hundreds of plates of salad, chicken, rice, dates, nuts, water and oranges. As the call to prayer signals the setting sun, everyone tucks in together - it’s a beautiful and special sight for us all.
Music connects us
Ali’s guitar class performed to an audience thousands of miles away in the US early last month. Through a live link system called the portal, the class shared their experiences and music for a radio host from WCVE Richmond Public Radio in Virginia. Around 15 students strummed classic Afghan songs and threw in a modern rock classic - Hotel California. The recording will be aired on The World Music Show on WCVE.

Turning poems into film
Refocus’ video and photography students are fast approaching the end of their three-month production course. Their progress has been truly remarkable with participants, many of whom had never handled a professional camera before, are now shooting and editing short films independently! One of their assignments was to visually present a poem using the skills they had acquired from the previous weeks. An all-woman group did this by creating a hauntingly beautiful 2-minute film based on a poem of resilience by influential Afghan poet Rumi.

Children see fruits of their labour!
Students from the School of Peace returned to the garden after a two-week break to see the seedlings they planted start to grow and bear fruit! Around 100 children have been getting mucky in the garden over the past few months for daily life sciences classes with our partner Better Days. Their harvest was proudly offered to the kitchen to cook delicious meals for our visitors.

Coordinators go on Team-Building trip
A strong team is crucial for any workplace to function properly and this couldn’t be more important for OHF. The Coordination Team had a two-and-a-half-day retreat/seminar/workshop in Molyvos, alongside the wonderful, much loved and appreciated Maya Rimer. Maya has supported and accompanied our team and the whole project numerous times over the past two years. The Team- Akis, Fifie, Nicolas, Yahia, Gerasimus, Majd and Julia shared their ideas, thoughts and memories with one another.
In the words of our newest and youngest coordinator Majid: “We shared our sadness and happiness and our secrets - as a family.”

Picture of the month

How sustainable is One Happy Family? In Mid-March, visitors, helpers, volunteers, the coordination team, and our partners on the ground, gathered for a three-hour workshop in the Open Space in Mytilini. The main goal of the evening was to make the OHF impact on sustainability visible for everybody. The question was whether the impact is positive or negative.
The participants were guided by the questionnaire (Project-Check) which was kindly provided by the International Bodensee Konferenz.
The graph below shows the results of the impact assessment and the estimated impact One Happy Family has on the four different areas of sustainability. The results are based on the perception of the participants and therefore, do not replace structured field research and quantitative measurements.
Bildschirmfoto 2019-06-03 um 18.41.01
The participants were asked what they noticed about this graph. The consensus was that there is room for improvement in all four areas. The most urgent area is ‘Environment and Resources”. The participants came up with many great ideas to help make OHF more sustainable.
Independent of the workshop, many of our helpers and visitors have already been implementing their own sustainable ideas in these past two months. These include bus shuttle service and rentable bicycles.
As a result of the workshop, a working group led by the Eco Hub (“Together for Better Days”) has emerged. As a first step, they implemented a reusable cup system for people volunteering in OHF. At the moment, we only have reusable cups for Ramadan. After Ramadan, the plan is to use them for helpers/volunteers, and then for visitors (provided we get enough cups re-supplied).

If the workshop was to be repeated today, the field of Environment and Resources in the graph would most probably be more positive.
What can you do to make OHF more sustainable? Please share your ideas with us!
Content: Bethany Rielly, Capucine Coninx, Valentin Denzler, Jael Tobler
Date: 28.05.2019
One Happy Family | https://ohf-lesvos-org | info@ohf-lesvos.org | @ohflesvos
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