In the aftermath of Moria shutting down, I AM YOU decided to expand our ideas of where we can work from and how we can do more good for the camps spread all over Greece.
One of the most important aspects of this crisis is the future of the children. For most, a lack of proper childhood will prove life to be difficult in the years to come. Therefore, we are proud to present our new branch I AM YOUth, focusing on the welfare of all kids, including setting up a means of proper education and a creative work-space encouraging all forms of art and expression.
We will be setting up this first step of our new journey in Ritsona camp, north of Athens, where the sense of community spirit is high. The population is approximately 1000 and 320 of them are children. The people living here are just as engaged as us at setting up a place where living conditions are acceptable and just.
That being said – the reality of the difficulties Ritsona camp are tangible. As of when we arrived the camp was lacking in electricity, wifi, decent food, hygiene and medical supplies and hot water was limited for the showers and washrooms. The camp is plagued by the presence of snakes and other rodents and contact with the outside world was constricted due to the distance of towns and markets.
Working closely with two other NGOs – Echo100Plus and Lighthouse Relief – we have since we arrived a bare week ago managed to set up shelter for pregnant women, a nutritious food distribution and providing the camp with electricity allowing the residents to watch the news. In addition we are currently hands full working on setting up a reasonable wifi network for everyone which should be online any day now, getting warm water, more washing space, making sure there is a strong presence of doctors, having talks with nutritionists to provide the proper food, building school areas for children, areas for proper shade from the sun, and we have already set a plan in motion to rid the camp of the snake and rodent issue. And of course, a lot more involving the everyday work of the people in camp.
Since we believe that we need to achieve a full sense of well being via all kinds of activities we are, via I AM YOUth, striving to create an art school to allow an expression coming from the hearts and souls of the children, empowering them to tell their stories.
Our goal is also to create a surrounding where the voices of the people are equally heard and respected, via our translators to which the residents can communicate directly and our town hall meetings where the people can come to voice any concerns and questions they may have and also be updated on the current situation concerning the crisis.
We are also setting up sister camp Oinofyta with around 2400 people, only ten kilometres away, and strive to create camaraderie between the two camps, working with the stream of volunteers arriving and together making our plans a reality.