18157508_121421011742148_2380336669902605094_n

This week has been extremely busy with a few special events and lots of logistical work for us at We Are Here, as well as our usual classes and activities. But it’s all been so worthwhile, facilitating theseextra things for the Nea Kavala residents. Living in a refugee camp for many months, the monotony is felt constantly. Even one-off events, are just that: irregular and uncommon. But at least between regular support with classes, activities and community building, and with special events to enjoy oneself and create happy memories, we hope to do a little to improve people’s enforced time here.

On Saturday, a Greek organisation constructed a pop-up football pitch for small football matches for the day. Children of all ages had a great time using the enclosed pitch to play their favourite sport, although depending on the age group, the game looked at times like football, at others like rugby/volleyball/naptime/whatever…Anyway, it was a great opportunity for teambuilding, so with those not mid-match, We Are Here ran Satartday activities based on football. We made paper plate footballs, footballers on lolly sticks and some football masks, with which to cheer on our players. Teenage boys especially enjoyed the pitch, participation medals and free footballs, and it was great to see them out in force. A permanent, enclosed football pitch is just what the camp needs, and all were sad to see it packed away at the end of the day. We will bear this in mind, however and think about options for a more permanent fixture.

There was a huge Football Family Day in Thessaloniki on Sunday, which all Nea Kavala residents were invited to attend. The event was organised by the Open Cultural Centre in Polykastro, Intervolve and La Liga, and had international coverage by Mediapro. From Nea Kavala and other local camps, there were around 800 refugees present, as well as a few Greeks and volunteers. The day was a big success, with much on offer: 3 aside football matches, tennis football, shooting practice, foosball tables, air hockey tables, six trampolines, a bouncy castle, crafts, a women’s space, circus skills, a theatre performance by Escosirak, Syrian and Spanish bands, refugee documentaries, and a live screening of the classic match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

An event such as this is a huge challenge to organise and manage, but is so worthwhile for the refugee community to meet others (refugees and local Greeks alike), create a camp community feeling, make happy memories of the present and just have fun! Hats off to all those involved in making it happen, and we hope to see more big events happening in the future. It’s amazing what good collaboration (and big sponsors) can achieve. We Are Here, present as bus supervisors, also feels great relief we managed to get everyone home to Nea Kavala in one piece, despite hundreds of people, many buses and a little confusion.

And finally, last night we hosted The Flying Seagull Project in Nea Kavala. This incredible circus group works all over the world but has been focusing a lot of energy on the refugee crisis during the past year. Indeed we, and some camp residents, remember them fondly from 2016. Our Open Community Space tent was full of laughing children and adults, and perhaps the best thing about it was that it was so accessible to all – despite language and cultural barriers. We cannot emphasise enough how important laughter is in this situation: we are full of admiration for the Seagulls, and would love to welcome them back on site soon.