Marking the International Refugee Day by giving a voice to Youth Ambassadors of The HOME Project
Within the context of the International Refugee Day, we have decided to share the story of Nargis, Imran, Alex, Afzal, Sajid and Maher who have been hosted at The HOME Project’s shelters as unaccompanied children and have passed to adulthood and spread their wings. Their story proves that creating equal access to opportunities of education and labor market that follow a holistic network of child protection services lead to social inclusion.
With ambition and perseverance, they have completed their education in Greek schools or been granted scholarships in private schools in Athens. They have attended technical trainings and consequently integrated in the labor market. Some of them have been hired by The HOME Project as caregivers in the shelters where once they were living as unaccompanied children. “It makes us feel and become very responsible”, says Alex. For others, the organization found opportunities in the tourism sector with seasonal jobs. “This has made me very happy”, confesses Imran, who was employed in the tourism industry in Mikonos and Kimolos. “Having a job helps us to integrate, to feel part of the society we live in, and to feel useful”, says Nargis.
We asked them what does Greece and The HOME Project mean for them.
“What does The HOME Project mean for us?”, they rhetorically ask with a twinkle in their eyes; it means “home, and family”; “a safe place”; “education, and progress”. “We should call it The Home and Family Project”, says Alex smiling. “And we feel The HOME Project as our family”, adds Sajid.
Becoming part of Greek society was not easy, from obtaining the necessary papers, to having access to health services or education. They have learnt Greek, and recall their struggle trying to interact at school, passing exams and pursuing their education. However, their resilience and ambition prevailed and they are now all in the process of finishing their studies.
They feel proud about going to school, having a job and speaking Greek.
“Greece for me means success and opening a door to various opportunities”, answers Maher, “like having the chance to go to school and pursue my dreams”. “Greece is a step forward for me and The HOME Project is part of it, it gave me the opportunity to grow and to feel appreciated; and when one feels appreciated, one wants to grow”, concludes Afzal.
In three years, The HOME Project has welcomed in its shelters nearly 520 unaccompanied children and has created 140 jobs for both the Greek and refugee community. The HOME Project is currently the home of 220 children accommodated in eleven shelters in Athens.