As the saying goes, “Home is where the heart is,” and we left a piece of our heart in Athens, Greece with our new friends.
What are your first thoughts when you think of “home?”
The smells of your mom’s cooking, laughter, holiday traditions, where you first rode your bike, and where you all come together to eat dinner at the table.
Home can look different for some too- sometimes people come and go, some sad memories, and it just looked different, but it was still home.
No matter what home may look like for you, most of us have not become refugees of our home, of our community, of our country.
Refugees are people who have been forced out of their home, to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, and natural disaster.
More than 11 million Syrians are on the run, including some 5.2 million who have been forced to seek safety in neighboring countries. Inside Syria, more than 6.3 million people are displaced and 13.6 million are still in need of humanitarian assistance. How does this fit in with Greece? Many of these refugees have traveled by raft to the islands of Greece to a refugee camp- with tents, one room living spaces, limited food, lots of crime, and terrible conditions of any human. Many are separated from their families, leaving everything they have in Syria, and any other countries they would be fleeing.
Okay, there are lots of facts. Let’s think about this. Millions of people have been forced from their home because of civil war in their country. The city of Philadelphia has a population of 6.1 million people. Imagine every single one of them being forced from their homes because of war, and having to move to another country, like London, England. Jobs lost, homes demolished, families separated, and the country who receives them becomes overwhelmed by the amount of help needed. This is what Greece is facing, their economy was already struggling, and whole demographic change came to their shores.
Home can be messy at times, and it certainly is in Greece. Jobs are hard to find, the government is struggling, and the refugee crisis is staying, and growing. In our trip to Greece, we were able to partner with a unique group called, The HOME Project.
The HOME Project is a unifying initiative set up to address the needs of refugee children in particular who have arrived in Greece alone. Through its programs it looks to provide relief from suffering to all those affected by the crisis and to give hope out of despair. They have set up shelters of unaccompanied minors in Athens, Greece with the goal of expanding it so no child is left alone in their borders. These children are scattered around the refugee camps, police stations and detention centers. The living conditions are horrific and inhumane. Through no fault of their own, these children are the innocent victims of this crisis. They flee from violence only to find it again at a European border.
The HOME Project exists to bring these people to safe haven. It provides security, dignity and decent living conditions for the most vulnerable. It serves to recognize our common humanity and to do something for those who need it most. Impact Junkie was able to program 26 laptops for the children to use to learn english, learn basic computer skills, and installed Gymp, a graphic design program for those interested. We also trained their staff on medical practices, how to prevent certain diseases, tips on not burning out, and how to work best as a team. We will be continuing to work with their staff and provide the resources they need as they address the refugee problem on the ground, face to face.
Home looks different for these children that they are not used too, but the goal is for them to find home again, with their families.
If you are interested in getting more involved! Let us know!
Start doing more with what you have been given by joining Impact Junkie here!