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People Example10

Get to know the newcomers, activists and volunteers we met in Athens, Berlin and London, as they share their personal experiences of refuge, welcome and the digital city.


Tonia

MCH LSE Refuge City ATH Arsis Mobile School 007

Tonia, Mobile School / ARSIS
Omonia, Athens, November 2018

I’m not a teacher or a language teacher, I’m a social worker. We don’t go to a square and just set up the Mobile School with notebooks and pencils. The children participate in their own way. We never push them in a direction that we want, so we always have different things that can motivate them.

Some of the kids are just thrilled to see these big and colourful boards we put on the sides of the bus. Some get really engaged with learning maths or vocabulary. We play games and use skipping rope as a way to learn to count. We have regular weekly stops, continuing the session exactly where we left it. It’s a nice way to follow their progress and build a strong relationship. Them being able to say, ‘See you next week, same time!’ is so important to us, and to them.

(connection)

MCH LSE Refuge City ATH Arsis Mobile School 022

There are many Mobile Schools around across Europe, Africa and Asia. The organisation offers support, training and material pro-bono to organisations that can prove there is a target population of children who aren’t attending school. We initially worked with Roma children but because of the refugee crisis, we have adapted the program to the needs of refugees.

Mobile School’s only request is that we send reports in order for them to analyze and compare their actions around the world. In 2017, our Greek project met 1439 children on the street, 75% of whom were under 12 years old and mainly from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Kurdistan, Turkey and Pakistan.

(solidarity, Athens)

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We also go to the Amygdaleza detention centre, which is basically like a prison for unaccompanied minors, adults and families caught without papers. Just a few meters away there is a playground but nobody was allowed to go there. It was like torture. So we asked whether we could take the children and play outside and they allowed us. Incredible that nobody at the prison had thought to do this!

From all the spaces I’ve worked, this place means the most to me because it is about ‘freedom’. But it is difficult to work there. We have to inform the Ministry every three months about our planned visits, and when we go, the van is not always able to enter. And it’s hard when the children wave goodbye saying, ‘See you next week!’ because you know that until your next visit, they will have nothing else to do.

(hostility)

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