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In Nea Kavala, our team has been working hard amidst more changing circumstances during the past few weeks. Firstly, we are happy to announce that the new Community Centre is now open for business! The Timber Project have made this all possible, we can only thank them from the bottom of our hearts. They designed and built us a beautiful, insulated building with two classrooms, a library with a beautiful children’s area, and a storage area, along with shelving and cupboards for all four spaces. They really did go above and beyond. You can see the video of the build here: https://www.facebook.com/thetimberproject.org/?fref=ts So one enormous and heartfelt THANK YOU to an incredibly dedicated and hardworking grassroots volunteer team, who are doing wonderful and much-needed construction work in camps around Greece.

Immediately after finishing the new centre for us, they moved on to another building project elsewhere.
can support their voluntary work and follow them on www.facebook.com/thetimberproject.org

We owe much thanks also to Help Refugees, who financed this rebuild – one of many, many projects that they have supported across Greece during this crisis.

When the build was finished, our team set to work on the painting and decorating, After so long borrowing other spaces in the camp, it’s great to see our signature rainbow colours out in force again!

Timber Project’s Erin and We Are Here’s Judith led the creation of a beautiful children’s corner. We held an open day with tea and biscuits, for people to gently discover the new space and have a look around. We read stories in the new children’s area, loaned out some adults books and enjoyed the space together. Everyone was really impressed by the new community centre buildingThe Red Cross volunteers from the camp, as well as some others we work closely alongside, surprised with a present of a beautiful handpainted ‘We Are Here’ sign.

Next was furnishing the Community Centre, and here we owe particular thanks to yet another group- LDS Charities- who have provided financing for the interior walls, furniture and other needed items, as well as helping replace other key material which was lost in the fire. We also upcycled the metal frames which had been rescued, with help from people in the camp, and are using your financial donations and direct book donations to restock the bookshelves and our educational material.

Your donations and some camp manpower has also made possible a major revamp for the Woman’s space recently. The space was absolutely not winterproof – cold, wet and windy – the kind of conditions which wouldn’t encourage anyone to spend time there. So for a few weeks in January and February the women’s activities were held in a Red Cross tent while a small team of men from camp insulated all the walls and ceiling, as well as reroofed the whole space. They also built a clever storage cupboard, which doubles as a table. It’s great we have so many differently-skilled people in camp.

There are fewer and fewer residents on camp these days as people have recently begun being moved into apartments in different towns before eventually, hopefully, travelling on to Europe. There is generally a lack of information about what’s happening, and many people have had only one day’s notice before they leave.

This is felt as yet another upheaval and mixed emotions for people.. Many are just relieved and happy to be finally leaving the camp. Yet it is another move to an unknown location, without knowing what will be waiting for them, who they will have around them or what services or information they can expect. Children who had, after a year’s wait, finally started at the local schools a few short weeks ago have now been uprooted again. Upgrading people from the conditions of the camp is a positive step forwards, but pulling people out of the community, home and daily routine they have built up around them, with so little time to close this chapter in their life and prepare for the next, has been very difficult for some people.

While there are still people at Nea Kavala, we will carry on our work.

We continue to run quiet morning children’s activities before the Greek school times. We run our adult language classes – now English, Spanish and German, along with other cultural activities such as theatre. SatArtdays are becoming better than ever as volunteers and children’s confidence in creativity grows. We have the library and also the new and improved woman’s space, with more varied activities including English, dancing, theatrical movement, knitting, cinema, tea-time and yoga. We have also distributed another issue of Nea Kavala news, and an English-Arabic picture dictionary for people to study in their containers and take on with them.

With this reduction in numbers, We Are Here have been focussing on more closely supporting those who are still in the camp – both practically, with different classes and help with CVs for the future, and emotionally, with the sharing of tea, food and memories. . We’ve waved off buses with tears in our eyes, and swapped numbers to keep in touch. But we will still miss them and think of them often, as we wish them farewell and the best for their futures.

It is sadly ironic that, after such a long time living in such poor conditions, the resources are coming together as so many people are leaving, and that they also see that after a year of completely unacceptable conditions, things are becoming more liveable as they move on and out.

There is little clear information being provided, but we believe it is likely that people will be brought to Nea Kavala from the arrival islands, which are very overcrowded. If this happens, we don’t know if the camp will first be completely emptied or not, so we must remain flexible as always about what the next step could be.

We could not do this without your support, so – to everyone who has donated helped us in any way – thank you so much from all of us at We Are Here.