At Eko school, all the help is useful

The situation of people waiting for refuge, explained by children

Who told that, facing such a serious problem like the refugee crisis, there’s nothing that can be done? It is true that the solution of the problem only depends on politicians of so different countries that an agreement is very difficult, however there is people who wants to do their bit.

Right now, about 50.000 people have arrived in Greece escaping from war and misery, and about 3 million more of people want to get Europe but they cannot.

Having so many people trapped in Greece (even more want to get there), with the European borders being closed and the impossibility to go back the their home because of war, is a very serious problem for the same people, as well as for European governments.

Children spending large periods of waiting attending the classes at the school of Eko community


How is the life in a concentration camp?

Those 50.000 people are leaving in the so called “refugee camps”, that in reality are concentration camps. They are precarious encampments, mainly arranged with barracks or tents, where families fit in as far as the can. There is no tap water and the food distributed in the tent area is scarce and repetitive. Basically there is lack of fresh food.

In the camp there is the minimum conditions to survive: shower with no hot water, provisional toilets, mats and packaged food… However, very basic services like doctor or school are not provided. About half of people living in the camp are children. Many of them are from Syria, a country warring for the last five years, and never have been to school.

Two children playing fresbee in the parking of  a petrol station, converted in a refugee camp


Spaces of solidarity

There is people who wants to change this inhuman conditions and decided to help refugees working in the camps. Some of them operate with NGOs like Mums without borders, whose  midwives help the lots of pregnant women and babies living in the camp. Another one is Proactiva, which helps boats to get the shore and prevent  people from drowning in the sea.

Other people, like those of the Eko community , are organized in a more informal but equally effective way.

What is the Eko Community?

The Eko Community is a group of volunteers, mainly Catalans and Syrians, who had been working at the informal camp of Eko. When de Greek government decide to move people from there to a better equipped camp, the volunteers travelled until Vasilika and rented a piece of land close to the military camp.  They created a space where people living in the Vasilika camp can gather together and feel more comfortable.

In the land rented by the Eko community, they built a school, a space in the shade to play, a library, a communal space to gather together and a special area for women. Moreover, they distribute things not provided by authorities such as underwear, sanitary napkin, soap, fresh fruit and vegetables, condoms…

Young people dancing hand in hand in the previous Eko refugee camp, Greece


How it works the school of Eko?

The school is one of the most successful places, students are grouped by age. Not all children living in the Vasilika camp go to the school because it is not obligatory. Only those who want to learn attend classes. Subjects are English, maths, Arabic… the majority of children speak Arabic even if many are native Kurdish. Catalan and Syrian volunteers work together to make it work. The educational supplies are like all any other school: blackboard, notebooks, pencils, colors, books, toys…

Besides the school, there is a library where they can read outside school hours. It is managed by volunteers of the Fotomovimiento association, which also reports what is going on in Greece be means of photos. There is lot of work to do, so that everybody has more than one role.

Why the work at the Eko community is so important?

Besides the practical issues, like giving the opportunity to attend a school to children who would not have it otherwise, there is another very important issue. That is to make people trapped in Greece know that they matter, that they are not abandoned to their fate but they helped as far as is possible, independently from what governments do.

In the camps all the help is useful, and people working at Eko are building something very beautiful and necessary.

Bel Olid

Guillem Cabra