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We’ve been busy trying to improve the Community Centre and Women’s Space schedules recently to better involve a larger proportion of the camp. Nea Kavala is based on an old runway with most of the containers in a long line heading away from any services. The people in the furthest sections can easily feel excluded from what’s happening, or not bother walking twenty minutes to check what’s on. We’ve been updating our schedules in many languages before going door to door, explaining what we offer and trying to get more people involved. We know from the camp residents who do attend our lessons and activities, that they enjoy them, but especially enjoy the feeling of progress through learning. This can be a big contrast to other areas of their lives, which seem not to be progressing at all as desired.

In this vein, we have introduced some new lessons and activities. We are excited to offer Arabic lessons for children again, with a trained Arabic teacher from the camp leading these sessions. It’s important to her as a mother, and to many others, to make sure the children don’t forget their own culture as they settle into Europe, its languages and customs. The children are super excited about these classes, and the parents are very encouraging too. Learning with a teacher in your native language makes it much easier to understand explanations quickly, so even with the lack of schooling in many of the children’s backgrounds, we hope they can progress well.

The international game of football is as well-loved in Nea Kavala as anywhere, and the men often play together in the evening. Now with a couple of sporty volunteers, we’re pleased to offer more serious football training and a match to finish off. The sessions have been really well received, and everyone enjoys going to the big football pitch outside the camp, to train and play properly. We’ve also started sports training for children in addition to our sporty games. Exercise has so many benefits to body and mind, and we hope these training sessions can help relieve some frustration and energy, as well as build a camp community feeling, as the international game of football is popular in so many countries.

In other news, our Youth Club for teenagers has grown in popularity, and is busy with a community service project: decorating the walls of our Open Community Space! We’ve all learned a lot about just how drippy paint can be, and have come out the other side with some beautiful murals to be proud of. The space is a huge multi-purpose tent we use for community events and activities like cinema, music and dancing etc. We’re about half-way done, and are already really excited about the change in atmosphere we’ve created inside. The teenagers are proud to be trusted with this project, and enjoy designing and painting together and individually – getting to know one another while singing along to Despacito! We’re glad of some more male volunteers, as the teenage boys idolise them and love having them around to show off their muscles to, and for other such manly purposes.

Although we aim to focus on Nea Kavala from the very near future, We Are Here is keen to help other projects as much as possible. Using our experience of encouraging the refugees to teach others if possible from our School In A Box project with the Yazidi population, we have facilitated something similar in Volvi. Many ex-residents of Nea Kavala were relocated to UNHCR funded apartments in this small town near Thessaloniki and some of our team have visited a few times. A big complaint about this location is the lack of nearby services, and especially the lack of educational services. Some of our old students from Nea Kavala can now teach English to less-experienced students using the School In A Box we provided them. We wish both teachers and students great success!

On Sunday we celebrated the International Day of the Girl in the Women’s Space with a special Love Yourself First workshop. After learning some positive and very important adjectives to define ourselves and others as women, we described ourselves truthfully and positively, making a profile with a drawing. This is just what the Women’s Space is great at: encouraging positive reflections of women, whether famous, inspirational women from around the world, or our equally inspirational women from around the world who currently live in Nea Kavala refugee camp.