INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY_ Eleni: “These girls are strong, they have passion to do things”

“I like this interaction with my students. It is a give and take relationship, not only with the girls, but also with their mothers. By seeing their gratitude written across their face, I get emotional. I feel happy by doing my job and it’s something that is transmitted to the children too. When I finish the lesson, I feel fulfilled”, says 30-year-old Eleni Kontou, who has been working for SolidarityNow as Education Officer for the last two years.

Eleni has studied Early Childhood Education and has done her Masters on Special Education. Before working with refugees, she had worked in the private sector as a kindergarten teacher. Two different worlds in which the teacher is called to respond to different needs. On one hand you have the nice environment of a school and on the other you have the lessons in refugee camps’ containers. On one hand, you have the native pupils and then a group of children carrying many traumas; for them education and knowledge are not priorities as much as survival, Eleni tells us.

However, the same children, despite the difficulties, don’t quit. Girls and moms are dynamic, they have not given up, they care for themselves. “I’m inspired and moved, and I feel more dynamic by watching them. These girls are strong, they have passion to do things, why don’t you do the same?”, notes Eleni. She has realized that girls, and especially teenagers, see their teachers as role-models, “like a person who can advise them on various topics. Likewise, their mothers feel happy when we talk to them”, she adds.

The message that Eleni Kontou wants to share with all women and girls is that we must always have dreams and goals. “You must try to achieve your dreams, because only then you will have a reason to continue fighting. The key is to feel that you can do it”.

*Thessaloniki Solidarity Center is supported by Open Society Foundations (OSF/OSIFE).