To our supporters, volunteers, donors, participants and friends,
As we say goodbye to 2018, we are writing to offer our thanks and to share with you some exciting programme developments for 2019.
One year ago, Action for Education was established to continued the day-to-day runnings of our Refugee Education Chios project. It has been a year of change, of new directions, of broadening horizons and of remarkable achievements. We are proud of what we have been able to provide for hundreds of refugee women and youth.
The past year has seen all our institutions at full capacity, the development of a strong community teacher training scheme, closer relations than ever before with other actors and the local community, a blossoming partnership with Action for Women and a total of 25,000 visits to our safe spaces and education programmes across Greece.
But for much of this year, we’ve also worked towards an end. In July, we faced closure. With no funding to continue our response to an ongoing educational and social crisis, this December was to be the end. But after months of talks, strategy meetings and project re-evaluations, it is with great delight that we are not only in a position to continue our important work next year, but to reach more people, in more locations, with more experience and vigour than ever before.
This is thanks to your support. Since November, we’ve been furiously fundraising to ensure our projects continue where they are needed most, and that we have the capacity to fill gaps as they arise in timely, professional and appropriate ways. We have publicly fundraised over £30,000, an inspiring sum. We are in conversation with trusted, generous organisations, individuals and foundations and we are confident of their further support.
And because of this, we are excited to share our latest news with you.
On Chios, we are delighted to welcome new volunteers and coordinators to the team. With their energy, dedication and broad skill-sets, Refugee Education Chios will continue to provide the essential education programmes and safe spaces that have been running uninterrupted since May 2016.
Over the past month, we have thoroughly remodelled our budget so that going ahead we can continue to stretch every donated cent as far as possible. In real terms, this means a substantial reduction of our costs on Chios, brought about by renegotiations in existing contracts, cost-saving initiatives across the board, and a new space for our Learning Centre from February 2019. We will retain the same capacity, ensuring refugee youth have the same vital access to our services up to 5 times a week.
This cost-saving has a profound impact on our country-wide operations too. We are now in a position to announce that from late January we will be commencing a new emergency response to dire conditions on the island of Samos. On a recent visit there, we were appalled by the lack of education provision and safety for youth. With over 4500 asylum seekers living in a camp for just 650, and with adequate structural changes far from sight, we are returning to the very roots that brought us to Chios: providing emergency responses where needed most. Drawing on our team’s extensive experience working on Chios, a core team will relocate to Samos early this year and establish a Youth Centre to provide psychosocial support for young asylum seekers on the island. We are looking right now for urgent support for this new project. Please help if you can.
Off the islands, we are delighted to announce a continuation in our special partnership with Action for Women in delivering the education programme of their Athens Women’s Centre: The Halcyon Days. Over the next six months, we will work to strengthen and consolidate our successes and build the capacity of this education provision, empowering female asylum seekers to develop and discover new skills that will assist them in integration, further education and work opportunities in Greece.
Finally, drawing on our experiences in Athens, we are today announcing our intentions to open another new project for 2019. We recognise that for many asylum seekers on the islands, Athens is a symbol of hope. But the reality falls far short of the expectation. Athens remains unsafe, unnavigable and unempowering for many refugee youth who struggle to integrate into a dense urban context. In response to this, from mid-2019, we are working hard to open a new Athens Youth Centre that will develop key skills, confidences and languages of teenagers and young adults, assisting them in securing vocational and educational opportunities.
So it is that with a busy year behind us, we look forward to an even busier year ahead. To achieve this, we will continue to need and value your support. As the crisis in Greece reaches its fourth year, we remain determined that as many women and youth as possible have access to professional and specialised education services.
You can continue to support our work next year by setting up a monthly or one-off donation. It is your generosity that keeps our volunteer teams on the ground, keeps our buildings warm and open, and builds future pathways for refugees in Greece.
With our best wishes for a Happy New Year.
The Action for Education Team