Newsletter EN

Situation for people on the move in Greece

More movement More and more people are allowed to leave the Mavrovouni camp (Moria 2.0), since restrictions began to lift in June. Many people are also allowed to leave the island, but not on official transfers and unfortunately, not with official documents. This is problematic because they are then stuck in Athens without access to official support. (Hier

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Reopening for visitors

Updates from OHF This month was a big month! We had our reopening for visitors and we’re so happy about it! Slowly there will be more and more visitors able to spend time at OHF.  We have a registration system by the gate and currently allow a maximum of 180 visitors on OHF ground a

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New board members

One Happy Family was just an idea in Spring 2017 and it has quickly become a place with many different ideas from many people, coming together to create and provide a safe and bubbly space.  After a bit of a chaotic start in Spring 2017 more and more people came to help at the newly

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News from the Shop

It might not look big and organized from the outside, but from this container, we serve around 100 men a day with hygiene packages! “It requires a lot of logistic work and organization to run the shop. We take care of the orders, make sure we do not run out of popular products, and that

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“My dream is to use my skills to help others…”

Meet Hussein! Hussein is from Afghanistan and has worked as a teacher in the CyberCafe with One Happy Family since the fall of 2020. But he has been a teacher and what he himself describes as a “technology fan” most of his life.  “I spend all my life learning computer science. I love video editing

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Putting a smile on everyones face: Falak

Meet Falak. Falak is working in the Café at One Happy Family. She is serving tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water, and biscuits to all visitors and volunteers. She has now been working with One Happy Family for more than a year. Falak, who is from Syria, prefers to get just one teaspoon of sugar in

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Some must reads

English 16 Greek prosecutors investigate 147 pushbacks Greek (translation via Browser possible) From the Ministry of Immigration, Turkey is designated a safe third country for Syrians, Afghans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi and Somalis.  German Eine unserer treuen Helferinnen und Vorstandsmitglied vom OHF, Fanny Oppeler, berichtet: “Nach sechs Monaten auf Lesbos: Wie abnormal normal es hier ist” Im Elend des

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Overview, May 2021

Situation in Greece Greece opened its borders to European countries as well as Australia, North Macedonia, the UAE, the USA,  Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and many more.  A negative covid test or proof of vaccination must be provided at arrival. The EU is still considering opening its Schengen Borders to world tourism.  Currently, 100 people are in quarantine in the Mavrovouni Camp,

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Ready to reopen

The Bazaar and hygiene packs at OHF We finished the distribution of clothes to single men at OHF this month. In total, we served 1,628 men which was a huge achievement! Again, we thank all our partner organisations who helped with the donations, logistics and distribution. Our online shop for hygiene products is still going

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Migrant Bus – on our way to challenge prejudices against refugees

Two former volunteers of One Happy Family decided to take on a new challenge and created the project Migrant Bus in France.  The idea of this project is to drive around France and create social bonds between people that would have never met otherwise. We love this idea because it’s similar to what One Happy

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Meet Ramatulla!

For one and a half years now, Ramatulla from Afghanistan has been part of our family. His biggest passion in life is singing and music; you often hear him around the camp humming along to a song.  Before the lockdown, Ramatulla was teaching singing and piano lessons to around 30 students. Every now and then, they

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Some interesting articles…

The Guardian writes on how EU states cooperate to illegally push back asylum seekers at their Schengen borders.  ILGA published their annual review of the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in Greece, covering the year 2020.  Der Spiegel has uncovered how close the European Union’s border agency Frontex works together with the Libyan coast guard. 

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Closure of Kara Tepe, push-backs and transfers

Covid in Greece In early April covid cases in Greece peaked with a 7-day average of 2,800 new infections. Nonetheless, the tourist season in Greece will start mid-May. Therefore, the first travel restrictions were already lifted in mid-April; people arriving from the EU, the US, UK and other places do not need to quarantine any

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Bazaar, wifi for the camp & 4 years of OHF

Things are looking promising with Greece set to ease some of the lockdown restrictions in late April/early May. For the moment, we are still operating in a slightly different capacity to what we were used to. Our online classes for our community volunteers are still running, and our online shop for the residents of the

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Coming back to the homeland

Meet Chrysa! After some years abroad, Chrysa decided to come back to Greece, her homeland, and work/volunteer at One Happy Family. Chrysa started volunteering with us in November 2020, as she wants to help out in any way she can during this crisis.  Currently, Chrysa is working on the online shop, helping the logistics team

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Closed camps, Frontex, Filmschool

English:  Closed Camps “The European Union has announced a quarter-billion euros in funding for five new refugee camps on Greek islands, including on Lesbos. Some are worried the new site will not improve conditions for migrants on the island”, reports The World. Read the whole background on the closed camps here:  https://www.pri.org/stories/2021-04-06/island-prison-migrants-say-plan-refugee-camp-lesbos-too-isolating?akid=280.125262.R_r7RR&rd=1&t=15 Missing children “Between 2018

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5 years EU-Turkey Deal & ongoing human rights violations

COVID/ Vaccines The Greek borders are still closed due to Covid, however it is planned for them to be re-opened in mid-May. The number of infected people keeps growing. Vaccinations started in Greece with the 80-year-old population, followed by the 60-year-old and older. UNHCR reiterated that migrants, refugees and undocumented people also have to receive

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New video, online shop, certificates and more

New video of OHFIf you haven’t watched yet our newest video of how the project is looking at the moment, please watch it here. Our community volunteer Hamid and Fanny, one of our board members, will show you around. We hope you enjoy all the site updates!  Online ShopWith Greece still in lockdown, we keep adapting

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Small words make a big change

Today we want to share – along with the picture – some words from Estelle Jean, co-founder of one of our dear partner organisations:   “In 2017 I started Yoga and Sport FOR Refugees with Dana and Kamara. Practicing sports together with one goal: making people happy and strong, because in these difficult circumstances practicing sports

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The smiler of OHF

Meet Mohammad… or Bacha, as he is affectionately known! He was born in 1996 in Syria, where all of his family remain. Mohammad is the smiler of OHF and is full of effervescent positivity, with a love for music, which he likes to play LOUD! He first came to the centre as a visitor; then,

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Different ways to help

Thank you to everyone that completed our newsletter survey last month!  One of the biggest points of feedback is ‘how people can help/be involved’, particularly at the moment, when people cannot travel to Lesvos. We are currently putting together a guide of different ways to support safe migration in Europe, and how to get involved

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Still inhumane conditions

Covid in Greece and Lesvos To avoid a third wave of outbreaks, a tougher lockdown has been imposed for the whole of Greece with a curfew starting at 18.00 daily. The new variants of the virus strains are spreading in Greece, many SMEs and the closed hospitality sector are suffering, and the hospitals are predicted

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Another lockdown-month

This month – another month in lockdown – we want to focus the news for you on our most important achievement: The free online shop.  The free online shop kicked off, and so far we have had a great response. Fifie and the team have been putting together the orders and organising the pick-up times.

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Games on wheels

Volunteers spoke of many people crowding around to watch people play a board game, and Gabriella wanted to find a way to help spread this little joy. With a team of interested volunteers, she formulated a plan to build a trailer, to be pulled by bicycle and filled with games for people to loan and

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Fundraising

Socks up! Again, many hundreds more safe passage socks are worn in this world, this year in green/red. We wonder where you are spreading the word about “safe passage” and would love to receive photos and greetings from our happy socks! Send us a mail to fundraising@ohf-lesvos.org or post the picture and tag us. Also

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An integral part of OHF

Meet AliAli is an integral part of One Happy Family.  He started as our Cyber Café manager in 2019 and has been with us ever since.  He is held in very high regard by all of his colleagues and always seems to be helping someone; translating for a neighbour, visiting a sick friend, listening patiently when someone

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Keep an eye on Frontex and fill out our survey

Keep an eye on FrontexSwitzerland is part of Frontex. Since 2011, we have contributed with people and money. We should use our voice within Frontex to make the concerns about illegal pushbacks heard and demand consequences: the stepping down of Fabrice Leggeri, Director of Frontex. He blocks external investigations, regardless of the evidence presented by

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Danger of lead poisoning in the middle of winter

Lesvos: winter is here 7,300 people are living in a dire situation as winter arrived with temperatures below zero, heavy rain and thunderstorms. UNHCR and other NGOs are offering the Greek authorities help to improve the conditions of Moria 2.0 (Mavorouni). It turns out that in October a 5.2 million Euro contract was issued to a local private company

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Another month in lockdown

Another month in lockdown has passed. Our team on the ground keeps improving OHF in order to have it ready for whenever it can be used again for its original purpose.  Construction The classrooms between the two containers are now ready! See head picture of the newsletter. The construction is finished, the classrooms are painted

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Donations, donations, donations…

This month we would like to take a moment to say a big thank you for all your ongoing donations. One Happy Family is increasingly becoming a donations reception point and they are either distributed by us, or passed on to others for distribution. You might imagine OHF as a packed warehouse. However, there is so

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Free online shop for hygiene items

Our team on the ground has struggled with not being able to properly fulfill the needs of the people in the camp or physically reach them during lockdown. This is why they created an online shop for hygiene items, with the support of the big warehouse Attika Human support. The online shop is currently in

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Thank you Giulia!

This month we would like you to meet Giulia. Giulia came to Lesvos for the first time in 2018, and came back several times since. On site she worked with OHF, and supported as well Medical Volunteers International as a professional nurse.  Her positive, heart-warming, very pragmatic, easygoing and always active attitude is a very

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Stay active!

Support the legal actors According to the latest news, many asylum cases are processed without the authorities providing legal assistance to refugees and migrants. Therefore, support and financial contributions to legal NGOs such as the Legal Centre Lesvos are most needed and helpful.  Oppose inhumane living conditions In face of the threat of lead poisoning in the

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Important articles

Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) has published a timeline of all the 2020 illegal pushbacks at sea. Greece still refutes these claims, and calls the footage “allegations”. Frontex is still being examined by the EU’s anti-fraud institution OLAF. The Council of Europe’s Anti Torture Committee called on Greece to act to prevent pushbacks. 

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Thank you for working with us!

Thank you for working together with us! There have been incredible challenges in 2020 and we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has been involved with the project this year. Our incredible team on the ground, all our community volunteers and international volunteers around the world, and our board members. 

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Greek dance lessons

Selin, our coordination team member, started Greek-dance-classes with our team. Dancing brings people from different ages, regions etc. together. For Selin and many others it’s a way to communicate without speaking. “Dancing together makes us feel as a team, we are creating/doing something together.”, says Selin.  Learning about Greek culture through dance is also a way

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The way through the lockdown and the labyrinth

Despite the lockdown, the OHF team on Lesvos stayed busy with office work and coordination of in kind donations from supporters during December. At the community centre, Doctors on the ground work tirelessly receiving patients and providing psychological support to children and adults. In the main hall, we had a big distribution of donations –

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New regulation and announcements

A new regulation from the Greek government threatens to criminalise NGOs and volunteers for sharing information from within the camps. This is another attempt to hide the inhumane living conditions and the many mistakes made inside the camps. (Read more: https://reliefweb.int/report/greece/greece-s-new-confidentiality-law-aims-conceal-grave-violations-against-asylum-seekers)  Additionally, the SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) also announced it will stop its

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Overview 2020

This was the year The year started with nearly 20,000 people forced to live in Moria camp and the surrounding area. 42% of the residents were children, with 17% of those, unaccompanied or separated from their families. There were fights and tensions on a regular basis with deaths and injuries from violence or unsafe conditions feeling

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Lockdown, an overview of 2020 and more

Lockdown in Greece Since the beginning of November, Greece has been under a complete lock-down, with the restrictions expected to stay in place for most of December. Although the refugee camps were under an unjustified lockdown long before this, the second lockdown has affected its residents especially hard. Not only are basic “services” at the

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OHF “online” and in Athens

Lockdown 2.0 As said above, all of Greece went into a second lockdown on the 7th November. We were much more prepared going into this second lockdown. In the couple of days leading up to the lockdown, the team on the ground topped up phone credit for our community volunteers, and provided warm clothing, headphones

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Graffiti artwork

Harry, an old volunteer from Better Days, is currently making our containers at OHF much more colourful with a surprise graffiti artwork on its way. As you may remember, our previous two containers were right next to each other, and the School of Peace used the back of the containers as a safe area for

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Life at One Happy Family – when open

For many weeks until the beginning of November, the One Happy Family has been bubbling over again and an important part of this is the many projects of our partners. Some have started again after a long dry spell, some are completely new and some have moved their location to us. Back and full of

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Support options & info about the EU Migration Pact

Give relief and support for Christmas Some ideas for donations to organisations in which we trust and with which we collaborate. Support the rule of law: the Legal Centre Lesvos Empower refugee women: Glocal Roots Donate for unaccompanied children: Together for better days Support for LGBTQI*: Lesvos Lgbtiq+ Refugee Solidarity Enable sport’s activities: Yoga and Sports for Refugees Donate for

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Interesting articles of this month

Notes of despair In the ashes of Moria a note book of social workers was found. Its content reveals the sad reality of their everyday work in the safe zone for unaccompanied minors.  Greece Is Weaponizing the Coronavirus Vice reports from Chios in full, striking details. European Money for Closed Camps SamosToday reports on the EU financing the camps. A

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