A group of CYA summer course students had the opportunity to investigate various aspects of socio-economic life in Greece beyond the academic perspective that they acquired in class. The students came in contact with the current refugee crisis through “The HOME Project”, a unifying initiative set up to address the needs of refugee children who have arrived in Greece alone. Its mission is to provide a home for every unaccompanied refugee child that arrives in Europe.
The HOME Project was set up by the Libra Group in response to the global refugee crisis. An international business controlling 30 subsidiaries across six continents, the Libra Group believes strongly in the twin values of hope and opportunity which are embedded in its social responsibility programs and initiatives.
During a visit at HOME Project, Scientific Supervisor Maria Kaldani presented the initiative to the students and explained how it addresses refugee needs in a holistic way. Their shelters cater not only for food, material, and medical provision, but also for the children’s social, psychological and education needs. In the first 16 months of operations, they established 11 homes in Athens, offering shelter, support and protection to more than 220 children and teenagers.
Kaldani had a very lively conversation with the students who were eager to get more involved in the project, visit the homes to meet the children, and offer any assistance they could in the short period they had in Greece.
And this is how a second visit was decided on the spot: in a week’s time, the class would visit the boys’ home at Victoria Square to help paint the shelter’s library and dining room.
Students, residents and other volunteers grabbed paints, brushes and rollers and began transforming the two rooms. With loud music, laughter and a lot of hard work they managed to finish both rooms in record time! Then everyone was happy to move to the garden for a game of football and some fun.
All in all, it was a very emotional morning and a truly unique, touching experience for students. They all agreed it is imperative to promote the needs of refugees throughout the world and CYAers are determined to keep doing so even after returning home.
The instructor of the course Political Economy in Historical Content, visiting professor Eve Geroulis, stated: “To fully understand the scale of Greece’s relentless social and economic challenges, the condition of refugees is an essential component. CYA students expressed a sincere interest in contributing in their own small way to improving the living space of children housed in The Home Project shelters in Athens. It was a joyous expression of a uniquely Greek ideal – philanthropia – and one which lent dignity to the young boys in the facility and human expression for CYA students. It was a remarkable day of learning for all involved.”