Stand by Me Lesvos
We are local teachers, professors, students and small business owners working with refugees. Together we want to create an opportunity where refugees can learn, improve their education and grow their skill sets.
Founded in 2017 by local Greek citizens of Lesvos Island, Stand By Me Lesvos is a different type of Non Profit. With little funds and based on volunteer’s work we have created a safe, positive space, the Academia, where local Greeks, refugees and international volunteers are all working side by side.
The conditions in the camp in Lesvos have been described as “a kind of hell on earth in Europe”, by Doctors without Borders. The daily reality for hundreds of women and children is violence, food shortages, lack of basic plumbing and hygiene, overcrowded camps, endless lines for food and medical attention, and that’s just a start.
Just in walking distance from the notorious and overcrowded Moria we focus on adult education and empowerment of women and children, offering regular English and Greek courses. Every day dozens of refugees find a totally different reality from what they are used in the camp: In the midst of Olive trees we offer them a place, where they are respected, can fix clothes, just have a chat, get legal consultancy or participate in the various courses and lessons.
The projects of Stand by me Lesvos are focusing on three main targets: Education, Empowerment and Integration.
Weekly up to ten classes offer English and Greek courses for more than five hundred refugees aiming to enable them to pass examines based on a specifically developed program in co-operation with Mytillini School for Adult learning. Our youngest students are teenagers the oldest almost eighty years old!
Legal consultancy as well as attempts to find local employment and further vocational training is another of our aims. All this is happening in a safe and self-organized space just a couple of hundreds of meters away from Moria camp. Our community is still growing and we take every chance to expand our project.
In Greek we have a word Xenos. It is a word with many meanings ‘stranger’, ‘outsider’, ‘friend’ and ‘guest’.
The deepest meaning of the word can be understood as ‘guest-friend’ and is a central part of how Greeks understand hospitality, it is part of how we at Stand By Me Lesvos see refugees; as guests, as friends, as people who maybe in transit, but where there is also a reciprocity, a give and take between the two.
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Stand By Me Lesvos is a different type of Non Profit, we are taking a bad situation and with very little funds, working to make a safe, positive space, where we can train and teach refugees, and advise them on how to reintegrate from the margins of camp life, back into mainstream society.