At Still I Rise, we hope that better supports, resources, and education will be available to students who have been transferred to mainland Greece. However, this is not always the case. During travel in the spring of 2019, a coordinator visited some alumni students in their new locations around mainland Greece. What he witnessed was devastating and dangerous. Many shelter and accommodation locations for asylum seekers are isolated and remote, far from services, hospitals, schools, or markets. The housing may be infested with bugs and without access to medical services in emergencies. Other camps are overcrowded and dangerous with violence emerging in daylight- our coordinator witnessed a man stabbed in the center of a common walkway, in front of children he was visiting. In these camps, the coming of night brings only further fear and darkness. Talking with the student’s families, he wanted to know: How can Still I Rise help? A parent looked him in the eyes and asked him to take their child somewhere safe to learn. We knew we had to create a summer program.
The Still I Rise Summer School on Samos was created out of necessity as we became aware of alumni students who had no access to safe education during the summer months. We strive to be flexible and responsive to the needs of our students and the summer school is the best response. By necessity, this program cannot be provided to all alumni students, yet for the few who obtained all legal documents, permissions from their parents, and were willing to make the journey, the summer school is life changing. Selected students have access to Mazi education and activities 6 days a week for the duration of their stay. They also receive extra support and tutoring in the summer school house to maximize their educational gains during their short time on the island. The summer house provides a safe, supportive family atmosphere supervised by Still I Rise coordinators in a location stocked with every home item to welcome returning students. During weekends, coordinators supervise trips which allow students the chance to see parts of the island previously unknown to them. Beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and hikes. We have watched as students flourish in a safe environment; learning to swim, read in English, ride a bike, and write. The benefits have been tremendous and students share it was ‘the best summer of my life.’ Still I Rise is diligent in providing great education for all our students and we are so happy to have the support from donors which allows us to fund a summer school program.