Over the last few years, the Syrian refugee crisis has grown into one of the most compelling news stories in recent memory. Photos, videos, and written accounts paint a brutal picture of often fatal hardship. The types of turmoil include, but are certainly not limited to, fleeing from oppression, crossing the sea in ramshackle ferries, and inhospitable camps.
An unfathomable amount of work remains to be done, not only assist refugees with their immediate predicaments, but to help them settle down into completely new lives. Invictus Institute is proud to say that we have begun making our own small contribution to help alleviate their suffering.
Last month, Invictus Institute began partnering with ECHO Refugee Library to offer our tutoring services to refugees young adults. As of now, we regularly tutor three of them – one in Greece, one in Sweden, and one in Spain. (The latter two were originally in Greece, allowing ECHO to build relationships with them; they have since been relocated.)
ECHO has been aiding refugees since August 2016 when they “established a library in Vasilika camp in Northern Greece.” Since then, they have converted an old van into a “mobile library” that visits various camps over the course of each week. At first they focused in Thessaloniki, the Northern Greece region where they constructed their permanent library. Now, due to the closure of many northern camps, they concentrate on Athens. Their mission is “to nurture a space of learning and creativity, a place to cultivate the mind – that one part of us that can never be held captive.”
Now Invictus Institute’s tutors can help supplement the print and online material in the mobile library. Thus far, four of our volunteers have digitally mentored the three pupils. Their primary language is Arabic, but they do speak some English. Founder Kasey Beck explains that learning new languages “is the focus of many of these refugees as they are trying to be more integrated in European countries and start new lives there. They want to create successful futures; communication is very important for that.”
While this certainly classifies as a humble beginning, it is still just the beginning. “There are a lot of organizations who are doing many wonderful things to support refugees in Greece,” Kasey compliments. “We have reached out to these organizations to set up tutoring programs. They recognize the value immediately.
“Unfortunately not all the resources are in order yet with other partners but the conversation is ongoing and we will be launching fundraising campaigns to set up programs and work with the refugees.”
In the meantime, at least three of the estimated 5.1 million Syrians displaced from their native country can enjoy a brief refuge through one-on-one education sessions, with many more to join them.