Every year, hundreds of people from the Middle-East, Africa and Asia attempted to cross the sea to reach Europe, striving for political asylum and international protection.
In the Samos Hotspot, a mile from the Turkish coasts, children and teenagers lived in tents in the 'jungle' or in overcrowded containers. Food was insufficient, conditions unsanitary, unhygienic and dangerous.
In September 2021, a new facility was opened in a remote location approximately 15km from the local town. All residents of the new camp were forced to live in prison-like conditions, surrounded by barbed wire fences and subjected to invasive security checks when they entered or exited.
In light of this dire development, Still I Rise saw it as important as ever to continue providing a safe space to our students, away from the inhumane camp conditions, a place where their right to childhood can be reinstated.
Our school Mazí (“together” in Greek) was our first project on the ground: both our educational method and our dream to change the world started here. A an educational center where we provided different classes like English, maths, sports and arts, accompanied by a variety of activities stimulating positive psycho-social development.
Mazí was based on the core values of hospitality and sharing. This provides children with a strong foundation to create bright futures for themselves.
A team of keen and qualified coordinators and volunteers supported the children and facilitated the development of positive relationships and active learning. Lunches and parties were also precious occasions to normalize daily life in a multicultural context.
50.000 breakfasts & lunches
13.000 hours of lessons
100+ donated glasses
The situation in Samos was hard. There was constant instability and changing regulations imposed on the residents of the camp.
Nevertheless, we persevered and provided constistent support to our students. We are proud of our success: some students have already gained English Assessment Certificates, others have moved to other accommodations in which they have the chance to use the skills they developed in the center and, together, we have set up Through Our Eyes, the first photo exhibition made by refugee children themselves. At the same time, we have launched multiple advocacy campaigns to preserve the rights of minors on the
Mid-May 2022 we completed our educational mission in Samos.
Since the opening of the new hotspot in September, the number of students has drastically decreased and, thanks also to our support, the remaining students have finally been enrolled into public schools.
Our dream has always been that all our students would be allowed to attend Greek school and that therefore there wouldn’t be any need for our center. Finally, we have reached this goal!
While our educational mission is concluded, our advocacy work will continue. Indeed, the reason why there are so few asylum seekers on Samos is that they are being prevented from landing by Greek authorities who brutally and illegally push them back to Turkey.