Community Centre Lesvos
WITH the people – not FOR them!
«One Happy Family» is a community center on the Greek island of Lesvos. Lesvos is, due to the close distance to Turkey, an important waypoint for people fleeing from wars and crises in the Middle-East and Africa. These people stay on the island for many months, as the EU-Turkey deal hinders the continuation of their journey to the mainland. Because of the severe human rights situation in Turkey, they can also not be sent back in most cases. With our center, which is growing steadily and welcomes several hundred people every day, we fill gaps which have been created by insufficient humanitarian aid and lack of governmental intervention.
Our aim is to give a measure of dignity and self-determination back to the thousands of people which are stuck on Lesvos. In the center, there are many projects, which have been built upon request and initiative of the refugees.
The community center is not being built and run FOR the people, but WITH them. Together with people from different nations, volunteers and displaced people, it will become a community. The people from the camps are not only engaged in building and running but also in problem-solving and decision making. That’s how we want to give them back some independence, autonomy and a sense of responsibility. Those people often totally dependent on governmental help and NGOs. Most of them don’t want that. They want to help themselves. Self-determination instead of determined by others.
Projects inside the Community Centre
Our Community Centre is a place of diversity and change. Our projects on the ground can change according to the situation and capacity. Our main goal is to offer a safe space to our visitors and participants of classes. At the moment our visitors can enjoy drinks from the Cafe, use the computers in the main hall, kids can explore our playground and some creative activities. Our partner «International School of Peace» is running the adult school as well as a leadership program for young. The organisation «Low-Tech with Refugees» are running a repair shop called «Makerspace», repairing bikes, creating power banks and much more. «Medical Volunteers International» are offering psychological support in the clinic. «Yoga and Sports for Refugees» run a huge sports program in their own space down the hill and the yoga tent at OHF.
Projects in Athens
With more and more people leaving the Island towards the mainland, many former OHF Community Volunteers moved to the Greek Mainland over the past years. We received many feedbacks from people who felt lost in Athens and asked for continuous support from OHF. People were struggling with getting access to basic support and integration. OHF Coordination Team Member Yahia Heraiz decided to takle this issue and set up a community volunteer spport program in Athens. Yahia is supporting former community volunteers from OHF and other organisations in Athens, helping them to find volunteering positions, providing support and benefit packages and supporting with information and networks. In August, One Happy Family was able to facilitate over 500 hours of volunteering work in Athens and supported 9 active community volunteers who helped out in 4 different Athens-based organisations. OHF community volunteers are helping with translation for legal and medical organisations, street work etc. The support program is constantly growing and One Happy Family is currently looking into renting an office in central Athens, where meetings and trainings can be organised.