The One Happy Family (OHF) community center, on the Greek island of Lesvos, was jointly built by refugees and volunteers and is run by them.
OHF was launched in the spring of 2017, and today it is open between 8 to 10 hours per day, Monday to Saturday. It has over 6,700 registered visitors, serves up to 900 warm meals per day, provides schooling to over 120 pupils, and hosts about 20 service-provision projects, initiated and operated by refugees themselves. OHF is a place of peaceful coexistence and creative collaboration among people of different cultures, in the midst of some of the toughest realities of the Greek migration crisis.
OHF empowers the refugees on the island and allows them to escape inhumane conditions in camps and squats where services, activities, infrastructure, medical treatment, clean water, and quality food are clearly limited or directly inexistent.
Fundraising – an ongoing challenge
As a result of a successful winterization fundraising, and thanks to the amazing work carried out by countless volunteers, OHF is now fully equipped to continue welcoming people during the winter. Our new clothing boutique is the most outstanding of all the improvement projects we have taken on to better working conditions for our helpers and living conditions for our visitors: at the end of November, we upgraded it from a tent with no electricity and raised on wooden pallets to a fully winterized wooden house. The impact of this move has proved immediate, since OHF receives nearly twice more visitors on the four days per week that the clothing boutique is open, compared to the days in which it is not.
The next challenge we are taking on is to secure the funding to continue providing one warm meal per day to all our visitors. Many families come to OHF because they know that here they will receive a warm meal freshly cooked on the premises, rather than a packaged meal that gets cold by the time it reaches the table. At OHF, they know they will only need to wait 5 minutes in line for food, rather than over an hour as at other sites. Our food preparation and distribution program consistently serves over twenty thousand meals per month, at a monthly cost of 12,000€ . As much support as our generous donors entrusted us with in our first round of fundraising, we would appreciate (and also dearly need) your continued support to fully fund food preparation and distribution through the course of January 2018.
Our kitchen crew consists of 5 helpers: Mahmud and Majid from Syria; Mohammed and Amin from Myanmar; and Yassin from Tunisia. They come to OHF every day on the morning shuttle and start their day by preparing breakfast for volunteers and helpers: a piece of fruit, a juice, and a sandwich. Then they work on the lunch, which takes about four hours.
Food distribution begins at 3 pm and is done in around 30 minutes. Men, women and children wait in separate lines, and we are specially careful to be fair when distributing the meals in order to avoid conflicts. On boutique days OHF serves food to between 750 and 900 people, the two others days to approximately 450 people. Pupils at the on-site school receive an additional meal at 6 pm, after which the crew still has to clean up all the facilities before going home.
OHF strives to achiving a fair balance between keeping the price of each meal low while serving healthy, nutritious, filling, and dignified meals to our visitors. Every day the team prepares food with different kind of vegetables, some bought from local vendors, some picked from the Eco project our on-site vegetable garden maintained and cultivated by Better Days. Once per week, OHF spends a little bit of extra money to prepare a special meal that includes chicken.
«We are working hard to provide a healthy meal that contains the basic protein, carbohydrates, sugars and fiber needs.» Mahmud.
How to support
You can make a donation in three different ways by clicking on "Donate now":
- Credit card: simple and fast credit card transaction.
- Offline donation (bank transfer): all the information provided for bank wire.
- Paypal transaction: using your Paypal account.
If you pay through our donation page, please write the keyword "Kitchen" or "Küche" as payment reference, so we can keep track of this specific fundraising campaign and ensure the money is fully directed to the kitchen project. We will keep you updated about the progress via this website and on Facebook.
Pictograms by Fabio Nucatolo & Cédric Fettouche
Photos by Cédric Fettouche