When we were told “Stay Home”, our thoughts and solidarity were with those who did not have a home; with the people who for us are not numbers, or “cases” to be deported, but they are women and men, girls and boys with names, origin and dreams for a life meant for people.
When we were asked to applaud the “heroes”, we knew very well that the acts of courage of ordinary people -who fled wars and crossed borders- are not validated in an applause, but in the vindication of their rights.
As teachers at the Open Accommodation site in Elefsina, we are working on a problematic framework. We are teachers of the “isolated village” and our school is inside this small “village”. Our main goal is to provide education for children and their parents, creating the most honest and equal relationships with them. We strive to transfer knowledge and experience of specific values, skills and abilities, wishing and hoping that with this knowledge children will not get used to this reality they are experiencing in the camp, and will eventually be able to overcome it.
This hope was cultivated by a farewell letter we received from a student, who, due to the measures for COVID-19, did not have the opportunity to say goodbye to us as she wished -neither did we, of course. The request for family reunification was accepted by the United Kingdom, so mother and children left on a special flight during the quarantine period. So, the letter of the little girl was handed to us by her classmates, when we returned to the site.
Her words were a written reflection of the values and relationships we work hard to build between the local community and migrants. Relationships that have as ultimate goal, to promote justice and freedom for the oppressed. When we told her that her story would be published, she asked us to add this: “I would like to say, stay human because I believe we can no longer encounter cruelty.”
So, in a context of global fear and isolation, due to the coronavirus, her letter showed us that what is needed the most is, to build relationships based on solidarity, equality, reciprocity and trust. N. writes at the beginning of her letter: “I would like to thank you because you are the Hope Makers.” Her name in her language means “light”. Today, N. is looking forward to continuing her studies at the Universities of United Kingdom and USA.
The real hope maker is you, our beloved N., and we hope that together, we will change this world.
- I am Eva Iliadi, English Teacher, at the Open Accommodation Center in Elefsina.
- I am Konstantinos Psilopanagiotis, Senior Teacher and Teacher of Mathematics at the Open Accommodation Center in Elefsina.
- We both work at the “Child & Family Support Hubs” project, which is implemented by SolidarityNow with the support of UNICEF and IOM Greece and funded by the European Commission.