“Through HELIOS, I learn the Greek language but essentially I learn to live independently”

She is 42 years old, mother of a 13-year-old daughter, a businesswoman and a student. Parvin from Iran came to Greece 20 months ago and lives in Thessaloniki. A dynamic woman, with dreams and strong desires, who was forced to leave her country. “In Greece I love the weather, the gentle people and the calm of Thessaloniki. This place is more beautiful than anywhere else”, said Parvin while smiling. She felt that Greece embraced her, and so did her city, Thessaloniki, as she names it, that’s why she stayed!

She quickly moved forward to the next steps to integrate into her new homeland. For the last seven months she has been taking Greek lessons at the “Integration Learning Center” of SolidarityNow in Thessaloniki, which operates in the context of HELIOS program, thus adding one more language to the four already spoken – Farsi, Turkish, Kurdish, English. Apart from learning Greek through the HELIOS program, Parvin has also been supported to find a home, to deal with the banks, public bodies, doctors and successfully complete bureaucratic procedures. “By interacting with the people of the Center, I am learning how to respond in every situation so I can live independently and autonomously. I really like that, and I thank them very much”.

All these skills developed by Parvin, are very beneficial for her, as they led her to become the co-owner of a hair salon in the center of Thessaloniki! The new skills and knowledge in combination with her natural and cultivated extroversion- as she has been a journalist in Iran for many years- helped her in this new professional endeavour!

“At the beginning of the collaboration with my co-owner, I’ve got a lot of help from the people of the Center. With the guidance of the job consultant, we made the necessary private agreement, I learned my rights and obligations and now I feel very confident. From that moment on, when things don’t work out perfectly -we may not have enough work and feel vulnerable- I feel fully supported by the Center. Especially my teacher stands always by my side in these crucial moments, and I am grateful for that”. For all the above reasons, Parvin doesn’t stop attending classes at the Center: “I need to become fluent in Greek because I can have better communication with my customers”.

Parvin also says that she loves the activities taking place in the context of the courses, such as participation in cultural events and visits in archeological and non-archeological sites and monuments of the city: “This is how I got to know about the city that I live and work in. I love all these activities and lessons because they become real by our teachers with the same passion as the courses! They undeniably captivate us, we learn and get excited in the end “, she says with a laugh and made the shape of a heart with her fingers.

Parvin is constantly evolving and facing the future realistically, without losing her hope: “I am worried that the hair salon may not succeed, but I won’t give up, I will do my best. My dreams? To bring my daughter in Greece! Even if I fail in the hair salon I will become a farmer – the land is fertile here and I’m sure that everyone will support me!”

In the remaining time between work and school, Parvin visits Halkidiki with her friend. 

*SolidarityNow is a key implementing partner of the International Organization for Migration (IOM Greece), under the HELIOS project implemented with the funding from the Ministry of Migration & Asylum.