Project update – Nea Kavala, 13th March 2018

We’re enjoying the early spring in Nea Kavala, seeing people out and about, enjoying the sunshine. We’ve made some positive changes to our programmes over the last few weeks, and are happy with the outcomes. We’ve moved all of our adults’ English classes to the afternoon due to many complaints in our survey about classes being too early in the day. Although we’ve disrupted our current students’ daily routine, we’re excited to see more of the camp residents attending lessons at a more ‘reasonable’ hour.

Also in the Women’s Space we’ve made some big changes. We want all the women of Nea Kavala to feel safe and accepted in the Space, without being dominated by the majority ethnic groups. We redecorated the Women’s Space and rethought our schedule, what we offer and how. We decided on encouraging more serious, levelled English learning at the Community Centre, and focusing on recreational activities in the Women’s Space. We still offer a literacy class in the mornings, but prefer to focus on creating a positive environment for all women, rather than a competitive learning one. We introduced these changes after a big integration party: we cooked together, played some ice-breaker games, danced to everyone’s favourite songs and got to know each other better. We’re happy to see more women from more diverse ethnic groups attending, and hope to build on this foundation of a refreshed Women’s Space.

We Are Here is so valuable because we can adjust our services to the current needs of the camp. The school-aged children of Nea Kavala now attend local Greek schools, as well as receive homework support with another educational project on-site. There is also a kindergarten for the four and five year olds, provided by the Ministry of Education. This means the gap for children is pre 4s. We have created a Child Friendly Space for this age group and are extremely pleased with the outcome. There is a core group of toddlers who attend and who are growing so much with this opportunity to play freely in a space especially for them.

They can cut, colour and glue in the craft zone, hide and snuggle in the cosy cave, look at picture books, role play with our home-made costumes, play with various toys and sort them back into the appropriately labelled bag: jigsaws, building blocks, matching games, musical instruments…The early childhood is integral to the child’s emotional, social and physical development, and we are happy to provide a place for this development, even inside a refugee camp.

And finally, our adults’ music sessions have been great fun for many of the camp residents! It’s great to have a space for adults to have fun and jam together, without outside pressures. Music really does bring people together, and we’re looking forward to the progression of our music project in the coming weeks.

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