Echo Mobile Library timetable

 
 
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At ECHO we try to visit places where access to books and learning resources is difficult or impossible. For example, Oinofyta is one of the camps furthest away from Athens - it takes us 1.5 hours to drive there and it is worse on public transport. Realistically, even if you have the money to get into Athens from here, a single mother with two small children will find the journey long, difficult and stressful.

Regardless of who is responsible for the camps, they are not healthy or helpful places to live long-term. Their set-up and distance from main settlements makes integration into Greek society impossible for most people, although we are pleased to see that most children are now registered in Greek school for a few hours per day.

Depending on the camp, we try to offer what residents tell us that they want - within reason! That is why in Malakasa, in collaboration with Musikarama we have a Farsi-speaking volunteer who comes and gives guitar lessons, and in Oinofyta we give Greek and English lessons. Once a week is not enough however and ECHO, along with most other volunteer groups here in Greece, would not hesitate in condemning the living conditions that most camp residents have to endure. This article offers some idea of how people are living here in Greece, a country hollowed out by the economic crisis and forced to become a holding centre (you often hear the word ‘prison’ from residents themselves) for people who are arriving traumatised from war, loss and destruction.

In Athens on Wednesdays we visit an informal living space in an old school. This space, like many others in the city centre, have been set up by groups of solidarians in order to try and fill the gaps for the thousands of people who cannot access other accommodation options here in Greece. We also visit Velos Youth, a centre that offers a safe space for some of the most vulnerable young people here in Athens.

ECHO is committed to supporting small local groups - we are so fortunate to be working in an environment where we get so many smiles and offer of help from locals. We also love to collaborate with projects such as Steps where we can help to build a community space once a week for people who are sleeping rough here in Athens, both Greeks and non-Greeks.

 
 

How did ECHO mobile library come into existence? Find out below!

Mobile Library

Launched in October 2016, our Mobile Library project provides access to learning resources to teenage and adult refugees living in the Attica/Athens region.

It all began with a sketch. 

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In the fall of 2016, having set up a library in Vasilika camp in Northern Greece, we set out to acquire a van which could be transformed into a mobile library and education hub. A mobile library would not be limited to one camp; it would enable us to take the library project to multiple camps in Northern Greece. In so doing we could service a much larger population of teenagers and adults. 

Thanks to the incredible support and efforts of the talented Keoma Zec, we were able to find a van in the UK which travelled 2,800 kilometres to Greece, and transform it into a mobile library.

By October 2016, we were mobile. We were soon servicing 7 camps in the Thessaloniki area. 

In January 2017, a bitter winter hit the north of Greece, making living conditions in the camps even more dismal than before. In response, many camps were closed down and its residents moved into alternative accommodation, scattering the population we were working with all throughout the country. How long these arrangements would last was unclear, most of all for those being moved often without more than a day's warning. 

We spent a few uncertain months continuing our work in Northern Greece, teaching 8 English classes for youth and adults a week and bringing the library to new locations in Polikastro and the Thessaloniki region. As many refugees were moved down to Athens for the next step of their asylum process, we made a decision to switch regions and move south.

In May 2017, the mobile library moved its operations to Athens. We visit 6 sites on a weekly basis, though are schedule is constantly being updated with new sites. Despite the scorching heat of Greek summer we continue to bring learning resources to wherever we can. We are always on the lookout for new partnerships, locations, and initiatives to collaborate with. 

Visit our Facebook page or check our timetable on this site to keep up to date with our locations and activities.

To learn more about what kind of books and support could benefit our mobile library, please email us at contact@echo-greece.org or visit our Amazon wishlist through the 'Sponsor a Book' button below.