Back to being a busy place

Daily business back at OHF
There is a great atmosphere here on the ground with the volunteers. Many of them have not seen the pre-covid days when we had more than 500 visitors a day.  It is lovely to see happy visitors return, even if in limited numbers. Like every summer, our opening hours are now from 10:00 to 16:00 so we can enjoy the long days and the sunshine. 

It is wonderful to walk around the site, and see the cafe being busy, children getting their faces painted, the art table in use and table tennis being played all day. Visitors are still able to check-out basketballs, volleyballs and games. Our barber shop is not open for visitors just yet due to covid restrictions. However, our barbers and their tools are still getting a workout- they are in high demand for haircuts for our volunteers. The repair shop is now back and running as normal, they’ve also been kept busy with many repairs and alterations. 

The Nest is now open for children 2-7 years of age and their parents, between 10:00-14:00. The room encourages both children and their parents to play together and bring out their creativity. Read more on the Nest a bit below. The visiting children to OHF have been lucky this week, as “Changing Faces”, a children’s theatre group, has been performing for them. They’ve set up their stage in the shaded area as you enter OHF on the left. It is lovely to hear both children and adults laughing at their great performances. 

Many may remember the outside info-point near the bank table- check it out, it recently got a makeover! Two of our lovely volunteers also updated our road signage, making it easier for people to find us on the hill. See the top picture of this newsletter for the new signs. 

Our online shop is still going strong, with regular orders still being processed. The male shoe distribution is continuing with the online shop, with more than 1,000 men receiving a new pair of shoes. We are also preparing another clothing distribution for the married and single adult men in the camp.

During the Eid-Al Adha celebrations this month, we were able to give all our community volunteers a food package with delicious goodies to cook a lovely dinner with their loved ones. 

The Nest

In partnership with PILAglobal, we’re happy to introduce you to a re-opened space for kids – The Nest! The Nest is a safe space for kids and parents to play, explore and discover.

Last week “The Nest” officially opened again after having been closed due to the fire and the lockdown. Our ‘Nesters’ Roya and Pascal are excited to welcome children and parents. 

“We’re trying to adapt to the situation on Lesvos and what our visitors want. In Athens, there is another Nest. It has many happy visitors. It was very inspiring to visit and see and now I am really motivated to try to make the same here”, Pascal says. 

The Nest is full of toys such as Magna tiles, train sets, and a mag wall (for balls to slide through different ramps built by the child). The Nest is founded on beliefs of the importance of play, and all the materials and toys in the room encourage children to bring out their creativity.

Pascal and Roya are also looking for other NGOs to partner with, for example, to provide referrals from their projects to The Nest or to organize groups of kids and parents to visit the Nest altogether. If you know an organization for a potential partnership on Lesvos, please let us know! We hope to welcome many kids every day and spark imagination in a safe space to play freely.

Second group graduates with an International Certificate of Digital Literacy! 

Nine volunteers at One Happy family have passed their exams and got their certificates on the 21st of July, Thanks to our teacher Hossein for never giving up! Over the past 6 months the classes have been face to face, then online, then cancelled, and then restarted- due to COVID-19 and changing restrictions. These challenges did not stop Hossein, our teacher, or any of the students. 

Rahmatullah, one of the students, is happy with his new knowledge “I learned about Microsoft Word, hardware and software of the computer. It was the first time for me. It was not as difficult as I expected it to be. Now I want to learn more and more. My future needs it”. 

For some of the other students it was not all new. Abdullah from Syria said “I knew many of the things from home already, but it was very useful as a reminder. I would absolutely love to learn more. It was so interesting. It is very good to keep learning – learning gives new ideas”.  Abbas is happy to become more independent. “It is important to me to be able to solve my own problems and now I don’t need other people to do many things for me. I know exactly how to do it”.

Again, congratulations to our second graduating class and to Hossein for his excellent teaching! 

Team Building Day with our Partner, Intersos

This month, our volunteers had a three day capacity- building workshop, run by one of our partner organisations, Intersos. Throughout the workshop there were rich discussions and great team building exercises held. One of the last activities for the workshop involved roleplaying actors and groups on Lesvos. That helped us understand different opinions and positions around us better.

“It was very interesting to debate these topics all together as a team. I liked the roleplay. It was funny suddenly acting like I was from the municipality. I also loved hearing stories and examples of the cultural differences in the team. When we understand each other’s’ backgrounds better, we can become even better at working together as one big family” one of the volunteers said after the training.

We all agree – family and teams work best when we are curious about each other, and all try to learn from each other. Thank you so much to Intersos for the training, and for facilitating all those good conversations.

Collaboration with our partner organisation Lighthouse Relief

Reposting from their social media: 

When community volunteers from One Happy Family leave Lesvos to Athens, some of them continue to help and be a part of a strong community of volunteers in Lighthouse Relief.

Thank you for this post Lighthouse Relief. We are happy to support each other. Together we’re stronger..

“The team of volunteers is awesome! They are experienced and enthusiastic people committed to supporting their community. They are always willing to help the Streetwork team with escorting people to the hospital, during outreach shifts and in the general distribution of non food items.”

Our Emergency Response Coordinator, Lourdes, shared her appreciation for One Happy Family – Community Center, Lesvos volunteers who have been supporting our team in Athens. “It’s a pleasure to work with such a great organisation,” she said.

One Happy Family is a trusted and respected partner we first met on Lesvos, where their community center remains a model of dignified and collaborative support. When we heard that they had expanded their programming to Athens, we were delighted for the opportunity to collaborate in this new setting!

In Athens, OHF volunteers, who were previously at their Community Centre in Lesvos, are supporting our Streetwork team thanks to their network of former community volunteers. The volunteers regularly join our outreach shifts, strengthening our team and providing inter-cultural mediation. In addition, volunteers make themselves available to accompany people to their medical appointments, where they provide vital interpretation services. Without these interpretation services, many cannot access the healthcare they are entitled to.

We are so grateful for OHF and their amazing team of volunteers for their support, and we look forward to strengthening our collaboration even further in the future!”