The word that might best describe the situation we are experiencing is exclusion. Our daily lives and our sociability have changed, and that reminded us that nothing in our lives is a given.
For refugees and asylum seekers, however, who have already experienced a complete change of their lives, the pandemic was nothing more than a reminder of the need for solidarity.
SolidarityNow’s activities at the Open Accommodation structures are aiming to support single-parent families and protect children.
Our most important goal is to provide solidarity to the people we help, to enhance the sense of security and protection and at the same time to be able to respond to the urgent needs of the pandemic.
So, what has changed? The feeling of insecurity has been increased because of the reduced access to services.
The most difficult part is the generalized feeling of stagnation and deadlock that people feel.
In response to these conditions, we decided to further support people, so that through their own strength to overcome the feelings of exclusion.
I would like to quote the words of a woman beneficiary; I will call her Leandra, although this is not her real name. Leandra is from Iran:
“I am just happy to be free. My ex-boyfriend kidnapped me and abused me. He didn’t let me go or speak to my family. Gradually I began to forget what day it was. I managed to escape and find my family again. I slowly began to form relationships with other girls and women from the community. We talked, we knitted, we walked, and we listened to music. In the last few days, I have been home with my family and I am trying to be careful. A month ago, we were informed of the risks and measures for COVID-19. I was asked if I wanted to be a supportive member of the women’s community. I started thinking about my family, my home, the people who helped me, and I felt safe. I accepted the proposal and along with the SolidarityNow team, I became part of a live network of information and solidarity for all the women living in the camp. In this way, I became a key link, conveying information and useful messages to women, thus strengthening the sense of community, but above all, helping each other”. SolidarityNow tries every day to make Leandra’s words come true, knowing in advance that only together we can face fear.
My name is Myrto Prodromidou, I am a Social Worker and Team Leader at the Vagiochori Open Accommodation Center for Refugees. I am working 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.