“πάμε Σχολείο!” a taste of school, before school!
A two month summer project for children from the Eleonas refugee camp
Every day, during the months of July and August, 200 children (in total) from the Refugee Camp of Eleonas in Attica, are competing with each other for who will be the first one in the queue in order to enter the school bus. Every day children aged 6 - 13, take part in the summer project “πάμε Σχολείο!” (“Pame Scholio”- “Let’s Go To School”) organized by the NGO ELIX - Conservation Volunteers Greece.
These two months, every day from 09:30 to 13:30 the ELIX group consisting of: 18 pedagogues under the guidance of an Educational Coordinator, a Field Manager, 4 Interpreters and a number of volunteers from many countries welcomed the children at the 87th Intercultural School in the Keramikos area of Athens.
The main aim of the project “πάμε Σχολείο” was to provide the children with a “taste” of schooling through a well structured project, which offered them support and empowerment, and prepare them for a smooth integration into the Greek Educational System in autumn. We focused mainly on creating a child-friendly environment, full of supportive and creative activities of non-formal education in order to feel trust and acceptance, as well as empowering their creativity and engagement in a group.
The activities started each day with having all the children form a big circle in the schoolyard, holding hands, singing, jumping, gesturing, laughing and playing fun games! After this exciting activity, the children would go to their classrooms, according to their age group with two pedagogues in each class. They did some learning activities in language and numbers as well as many workshops, involving arts and crafts, movement and music, mind games, drama and sports. Their eagerness to learn and their engagement in activities has been amazing, they would not miss one day of school!
The project is funded by the Finn Church Aid, (FCA), the largest Finnish development cooperation organization and the second largest provider of humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, Finn Church Aid specializes in supporting projects addressing the refugee crises.
The Municipality of Athens supports the project “πάμε Σχολείο” within the framework of their project “Open Schools” by providing the premises of the 87th intercultural School, near the Eleonas Camp. Going to school outside the premises of the Refugee Camp gives the children the chance to get out of their everyday living environment.
Valuable support was provided by volunteers who formed bonds of friendship and love with the children and assisted the pedagogues in the daily program with commitment. Some were Greeks three were from the Portuguese NGO Refugees Support Platform PAR and eight Scouts from France.
The project has proven to have had a very supportive and beneficial influence for the 200 children mainly from Syrian and Afghan origin, with very few children from Pakistan, Somalia, Iran and Iraq. The psychosocial wellbeing and positive effect on the children has spread to their families as well, who visited the school and attended the celebrations organized at the closing events of each period. Parents expressed their gratitude in many ways, acknowledging the change they witnessed on their children through their participation in the project. We now know that we have reached our goal to give these children a real “taste” of school.
Note: The Refugee Camp of Eleonas is under the auspices of the First Reception Service.
ELIX is accredited in the list of NGOs cooperating with the First Reception Service.