Greece is known to be the cradle of democracy and self-determination. In antique times Greek philosophy focused on education and empowerment. We from Stand by me Lesvos still believe in these universal values and want to share them with the refugees who arrive here. We feel commited to keep these ideas and ideals Greeks once gave to the world alive.
Adult Learning and Language classes. We are currently offering English and Greek courses at Stand by me Lesvos. Together with teachers from Greece and international consultants SBML has developed a three stage program that is taught in three week shifts by teachers who are either refugees themselves or volunteers from abroad.
The Stand by me Lesvos Academia, as we call our school, is one of the very few places around Moria camp that offers informal education to women and children. Refugees should have the chance to pass A 1 English tests later.
We are also planning to develop similar training programs for teachers and co-ordinate our efforts with organisations in other places in Greece. SBML is part of an Erasmus+ supported network focusing on informal adult education and vocational training. We are also closely co-operating with The School of Second Chance of Mytilene and the Aegean University in Lesvos.
Discover more: The Academia Program
We believe in the power of education. Mixalis Aviotis, co-founder of SBML and head The School of Second Chance, who has been involved in volunteer work in the refugee sector for many years, explains: People don't come here with nothing, maybe with empty hands but they bring knowledge and ideas, they want to make a difference and get involved. Here women not only have a room for themselves in which they can exchange ideas and learn together, but also the opportunity to take important steps into their future for and with their children. No matter where their journey to Moria continues, no one can take away what they have learned here.
While their mothers are participating in classes the SBML team is offering different activities to the children.
Vocational Training and Empowerment. Currently we offer at our project a couple of sewing machines the women from the camp can to use to repair their clothes and design and sew new ones. We are also working on a data base for job seeking refugees. Many small companies and shops in Lesvos are ready to offer short and long term employment or vocational training for refugees. We will try to bring them together. We believe Companies and migrants alike will benefit from thhis planned job exchange, it will also provide an opportunity to get to know each other and tie bonds between host community and newcomers.
Integration into the Local Community. Some refugees who get their asylum granted are planning to stay on the island and become new citizens. We want to support them to find accommodation and employment. But we believe even for the one who are just staying for a short time more integration and exchange is important to combat prejudices and hostility.
Lesvos should stay a Refugee friendly Island. Therefore we are developing a campaign to focus on exchange and integration as well as encouraging tourism.
Consultancy and Legal Aid. Our partner Fenix Legal Aid is offering legal aid and other aid three times a week to refugees. A lot of refugees do not know about their legal rights, they hardly understand what is going on with them and cannot afford lawyers. Fenix Legal Aid is here to help them.
But our place is also an Agora in the old meaning of this Greek word: To meet, discuss, exchange or simply relax with a cup of tea using the WIFI UNHCR is providing for free.
Since we are expanding we are able to offer more and more classes for women and in the evenings even for men. The women in Moria camp are mostly from Afghanistan. A large number of them were not able to go to school. Because of this they are in big need of alphabetization and literacy classes. Being illiterate is a huge hindrance in their lives, they are unable to navigate the world without relying on help, and can be easily taken advantage of. Giving them the space and assistance they need to learn how to read would impact their lives significantly.We have a lot of plans for the near future to expand our project and offer more services to the residents from Moria camp. We are currently unable to offer these much needed services because of a lack of funding. Each new project costs about €600 per month. If you would like to fund this or an existing project please support us
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.