Echo library timetable
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 come into existence? Find out below!