τΗΧΟΣ

-2020-    -2021-

 

The "Wall of Voices" or "τΗχος" was created with an intention to offer young adults a space for reflection on social issues in the European and local society. Here you will discover various essays, galleries, videos and content projects created by our volunteers. 

 

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Unaccompanied Minors Seeeking Asylum in Greece, by Gaia Bendinelli

31/08/2021

Unaccompanied minors are a particularly vulnerable category of refugees, facing peculiar struggles and challenges. One of the latter is about obtaining the papers that certify their asylum-seekers' status. In this video, we retrace briefly the stages of this bureaucratic journey, which is intricate and, most-likely, time-consuming.


Human Trafficking and Refugees, by Noemia Justino

30/07/2021

Introduction

 

As of today, human trafficking remains one of the greatest threats to human security in the 21st Century. Unfortunately, most cases related to human trafficking, especially when talking about migrants and refugees, remain undetected, contributing to the perpetuation of such criminal actions. 

 

This article sets out to shed some light on what human trafficking is and how refugees constitute to be one of its most vulnerable groups. Firstly, by exploring the clear link between globalisation as a facilitator of exploitation and human trafficking, subsequently looking into some general ideas concerning human trafficking, through some key concepts and available data. The second part of this article particularly focuses on trafficking in refugees by attempting to substantiate the reasons that lead to their susceptibility to exploitation and human trafficking.

 

Human Trafficking as an offshoot of globalization

 

The very phenomenon of globalisation is well known to have created great opportunities; however, its challenges should not be overlooked. In a world where everything seems to be hyper-connected, past obstacles and frontiers are now more blurred than ever.  Although when we think about globalisation our first thoughts might remote us to the McDonalds nearby, living in the so-called “global village”  means way more than that. Going through the process of globalisation should not only mean talking about its perks, such as increased flows of capital and human mobility; it is also important to address what have been its consequences in the world as we know it today. 

Among many other negative outcomes, increasing human trafficking has emerged as one of the greatest costs brought by such phenomenon, depicting quite accurately the rotten edge of the “global village” fairy-tale.   While globalisation has created incentives for out-migration flows aiming at finding a better quality of life, several human security issues have come forth. Indeed, living global has promoted innovation, productivity, and new job opportunities. However, it has also enabled deeper economic and social disparities, consequently leading to the displacement of migrants (usually low-skilled), who seek better prospects in life.  In truth, by trying to do so, migrants often see themselves in unprotected and precarious situations, increasing, therefore, their risk of being subjected to any form of exploitation and subsequently to the world of human trafficking. Likewise, people who are forcibly displaced due to war, conflict or persecution face the same level of vulnerability upon their arrival in a new country. 

 

Exclusionary immigration policies, insufficient channels for regular migration and family reunification, as well as lack of regular access to the labour market for asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants  are therefore some of the factors that might contribute to the likelihood of being exploited and trafficked since these individuals usually opt for irregular means in order to arrive at their destination. This will be further discussed in detail in the next section.

 

Overall, one could argue that globalisation facilitates human trafficking the same way expansionism has facilitated transatlantic slave trade throughout the 15th to the 19th century.  Similarly to slavery, modern-day trafficking is a very lucrative industry/business driven by supply and demand, as if human beings were goods. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), trafficking generates approximately US$ 150 billion of illegal profits, of which US$ 99 billion come from commercial sexual exploitation.   Put it simply, while taking advantage of the increased flow of people across countries, traffickers seek to objectify and exploit humans with the ultimate purpose of profiting from it /them. 

 

Even if throughout the years efforts to counter human trafficking are evident, they remain insufficient. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic as of today, human trafficking is overall foreseen to worsen as numbers are expected to increase. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), considering the economic impact of Covid-19, individuals will be in a position of higher risk in terms of exploitation and trafficking, as they are now more exposed and vulnerable.  It is thus important to rethink the strategies against human trafficking, from the policy spectrum to its open discussion in public arenas. Human trafficking is not a third-world country problem, but a global one.  Therefore, a  sustainable and collective roadmap should be considered, based on the principles of prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships, while trying to ensure a victim-centric and human rights-based approach. 

 

 

Key ideas about Human Trafficking

 

As previously mentioned, trafficking in persons is a global phenomenon and not exclusive to third-world countries. Victims from at least 175 countries have been reported across 164 countries where exploitation takes place . However, given its diffusion, data is often limited, making it difficult to estimate the real size of the problem.

 

 

Source: Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC). (2021). [Dataset]. https://www.ctdatacollaborative.org/

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking down the key concepts: Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Refugee

 

 

[i] UN General Assembly, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 15 November 2000

 

[ii] UN General Assembly, Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 15 November 2000

 

[iii] UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951

 

 

Forms of Human Trafficking

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although sexual exploitation remains one of the most known forms of human trafficking, other exploitive activities shall not be overlooked. When we talk about human trafficking we can think about a broad range of dimensions such as forced labour, organ removal, domestic servitude, forced begging, etc...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Datasets on Human Trafficking

 

Other key findings:

·         IOM case data show that 80% of international human trafficking journeys cross through official border points, such as airports and land border control points.

 

·         Most victims of trafficking for labour exploitation are trafficked into domestic work, construction and agriculture, manufacturing and hospitality.

 

·         Victims trafficked for sexual exploitation are recruited most often by an intimate partner, and are more likely to be recruited by friends and family than victims of trafficking for labour exploitation.

 

Source: Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC). (2021). [Dataset]. https://www.ctdatacollaborative.org/

 

 

Why talk about Refugees?

 

As a consequence of their vulnerable status, refugees are at particular risk of being subjects of human trafficking. Among several factors related to their likelihood of being trafficked, we can point out aspects of refugees’ physical insecurity; social, economic, and political marginalisation; and lack of legal protection.  From fleeing their country until arriving at their final destination, the dangers encountered are countless. Experiences with trauma and loss, sexual violence, pressure to engage in survival sex and victimisation by smugglers are unfortunately common patterns (and stories) shared by most people who seek international protection.  Furthermore, upon their arrival, refugees are often subjected to poor and dehumanising practices in terms of border enforcement, refugee camp management, labour market, and domestic policies, clearly aimed at discouraging migration while restricting their rights.  Thus, considering such risks, it shall not be difficult to substantiate the legitimate concern that we should have about refugees’ wellbeing and security, bearing in mind that these vulnerability factors are potentially leading to the dark road towards exploitation, abuse, and human trafficking.

 

A closer reality, among many others, can be used to portray these vulnerabilities to which refugees are exposed every day. Not far from today, upon the peak of the 2015 refugee and migrant crisis, more than one million people would have reached Europe’s shores by trying to cross the Mediterranean.  Sooner this would mean that more than one million people seeking a safe port would be or would already be at risk of being trafficked. Although experience with abuse, exploitation, and other forms of violence are reportedly already starting in the country of origin, the continuation of such traumatic experiences is more likely to happen thereafter, as refugees find themselves in longer and riskier journeys until their last destination. 

 

Even if hard to believe that someone would profit from such unfortunate events, the refugee crisis revealed to be the dreamland for human traffickers and smugglers. Evidence shows that the current refugee and migrant crisis boosted smuggling businesses, as its runners practically have a monopoly on transporting people across the Mediterranean.  By taking advantage of their desperation, refugees often see smugglers as their only alternative to reach the planned destination. 

 

Figure 2 – Migrants from Somalia try to reach Greece's border

 

 

 

Children, however, remain the most vulnerable group. In 2015, 88,300 asylum seekers applying for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU) were considered unaccompanied children.  By the end of 2016, 3 out of 4 children crossing the Mediterranean had experienced abuse amounting to trafficking.  While many refugee children might not start their journey as trafficked, many end up being exploited throughout it due to the increasing vulnerability status when compared with adults. 

 

In short, the protection of refugees from human trafficking risks can overall be improved. However, similarly to what was suggested in the second section of this article, strategies and policies should be reconsidered and changed accordingly. By promoting effective schemes of family reunification, resettlement and relocation, and other legal protections, countering human trafficking can have a real chance. In addition to this, and often overlooked, it is urgent to push for the adoption of a refugee-centered approach and demand our governments to treat and receive refugees with the dignity they have always deserved.

 

Concluding Remarks

 

Often referred has modern-day slavery, human trafficking remains one of the most widespread forms of transnational organized crime. Thousands of men, women, and children are every day dragged to the rotten world of abuse and exploitation, on which their vulnerabilities account for the likelihood of being subjected to trafficking. However, even if developments towards countering human trafficking have been made, they remain insufficient. 

 

Accordingly, future prospects to decrease the activity of trafficking in persons do not look optimistic either, as the consequences of the COVID-19 economic recession are expected to worsen, so is people’s susceptibility to being trafficked, particularly the poorest communities such as refugees.

 

Nevertheless, even if long-term solutions do not seem to be on the horizon, it is important still to promote a better understanding and awareness about the issue. The 30th of July is, therefore, a great example of how we can do so. 

 

Start a conversation. Use the 30th of July as a wake-up call and spread awareness.

 

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The role of sports in social integration, by Tomas Rodrigues

20/07/2021

"All my dreams were about sports" - Syrian refugee

 

"It gives me strenght and joy" - Syrian refygee

 

"It doesn't matter who you are, you can always play" - Afghan refugee

“Interview with a refugee”

1- Who are you? Describe yourself

My name is Hamid, I am 16 years old and I am from Afghanistan. I like to play footbal and in the future I would like to be a mechanic. If I get enough money, I would like to help the poor people.  In terms of sports,my favourite sport is football.

 

2- What do you feel when you do sports?

When I play football, I am very happy and I forget all of the bad things that happened to me. It is very nice for me to play football, I just play and forget everything and I try to put all my efforts to do my best and be the best that I can be.

 

3- I noticed that you have a tattoo related to football in your leg. What does it mean to you?

For me it represents part of my story and my dreams related to football. It is a boy holding a soccer ball and dreaming about winning a lot of trophies and that´s my dream; I want to be succesfull and achieve all my goals. Furthermore, it was a friend of mine who did this tattoo so it has a special meaning.

 

4- Tell me about a sports player that inspires you and why?

A sports player that I like and that inspires me is Cristiano Ronaldo. He is a very famous player and he is the best player in the world. He also has a nice story which motivates me a lot: in the past he didn’t have anything but with all his dedication and hard work, he achieved what he has today and this motivates me a lot to always do my best.

 

5- Would you like to be part of a sports organization?

Of course. I would like to learn more and develop new skills with the help of the coaches and the teammates. I also would like to be part of a sports organization to meet new people and make new friends. I want to practice to become a better player and I think that it is easier to do it while you are part of a sports organization.

 

6- Why are you so passionate about playing sports?

I am so passionate about sports because it is good for my body, for my health, for everything. If you do sports you never get sick and you feel that everything goes away. During the time that I am playing football I only think about football and forget all the problems and the hard times that i have been through and after that I am very calm and feel that all my problems just went away.

 

7- In what way do you think that sports makes you evolving as a person?

With sports I feel like I am a more relaxed person,it also  improves my concentration and focus during the activities that I do on my daily basis. I also feel that sports helped me to become a better student and get a better performance at school.

 

“Interview with Suzan”

1- Who are you? Describe Yourself

I am Suzan, I am 27 years old and I am French. I got a Master degree in Language Interculturality. I spent the last 2 years between France and Greece working in organizations that work with asylum seekers. After that, I found a job in Paris in a organization that works with migrants families. With this opportunity, I am able to get in touch and get to know the migrants families that we work with. I am seeing different things and facing a different reality from the previous one that I faced in the past 2 years. I also played football in France and also during my time in Greece

 

2- During your time in Greece, you were part of a football team. In what way did it help you to integrate in the society and break some social barriers?  

I was part of the Ioannina Football Team but I was only allowed to practice because my sport licence was not valid in Greece but it was an amazing experience.  When you are abroad and you are part of a team you have to find your way to communicate with the teammates and also to find a way for the others to understand you and football helped me a lot in this. During the practice, I was always trying to understand my colleagues during the exercises, I was always following them during the exercises and with that you start to build relationships with them and at a certain point they start to become your friends more than teammates. At the begining it was difficult but the team helped me to feel integrated in the society and in the city of Ioannina and also to enjoy my time in Greece.                                                                                                                                                                                                    Susan,27 France

 

3- How did sports help you to evolve as a person, in physical and psychological/mental aspects?

I played with the professional team and the training sessions were hard and intense and this helped me to improve my physical condition and also my mentality to do everything that they asked me. I always tried to do my best to enhance my skills because my physical condition was not as good as the others girls and this helped me to evolve as a player but also as a person and when I came back to France I felt that I was better in every aspect.

 

4- How do you see the impact of sports in social integration?

We can only see the impact of sports in social integration as a good thing. When you are part of a sports organization, doesn´t matter if it is a football team or other sport, you get in touch and meet people, you face a different reality and you have to break some social barriers to get around your teammates. Within a team, all differences are put aside and everyone works towards the same goals, making the relationship between everyone stronger.

The team spirit makes everyone feel integrated, not only in the team but also allows teammates to relate to each other outside of the training sessions, thus creating friendships among everyone.

In addition, all the support given by the coaches makes the athletes feel integrated and see the coaches as someone who can help them in all situations, even outside of training.

 

5- What would you like to say and what are you able to say to the sports organization in order to them  focus more and open the doors for migrants to be part of them?

Sports organizations should organize more events where the competition would be between everyone, not just local teams. This way, both local teams and teams from other cities/countries will have contact with other players and other cultures, and this would break down some social barriers and it would be an example that everyone can be part of a team and do sports, regardless his origin or culture.

 

“Interview with Pedro Lopes”

1- Who are you? Describe yourself

Born and raised in the lovely city of Porto, my name is Pedro Lopes and I’m 25 years old. Being born in a country that only cares for football, I wanted to rebel against it from a young age, so I picked a different sport. That was when I started playing basketball and shortly after I fell in love with it. It is my obsession. Currently, I have a full-time job that is not related to basketball, but the game still is a major part of my life.

 

2- You started playing basketball when you were 12. How did basketball help you to interact with new people and integrate yourself in the community?

I was 12 when I started playing. Basketball has always been an incredibly important part of my social life. I’ve made most of my closest friends through basketball. I truly believe the game is a facilitating factor for real and close relationships. I have lived in Czech Republic and Germany before, and the best relationships I have made in both those countries happened on a basketball court. The game sees no races, no colors, no ages, no money. As long as you have a ball and a hoop, you can play Pedro Lopes, 25 Porugal              basketball and have the time of your life. The bond you create with your teammates can hardly (if at                                                                   all possible) be replicated in other situations. That is why I will always be grateful for basketball.

 

3- At the moment you are part of a basketball team. How do you see the possibility of recieving/welcoming migrants in your team and have them as teammates?

This is more than a possibility, as it has happened before and will probably happen again in the future. As I’ve previously mentioned, the bond you create with people while playing basketball and hanging out together with your teammates on and off the court is hardly replicated. I then truly believe that basketball, but also sports in general, can be a wonderful tool to integrate migrants into a country, as they will automatically have a support system and a group of people who will be willing to help them in any way possible, as if they’re part of the family already. That is my experience, at least.

 

4- How do you see the impact that migrants could possibly have in your team?

I can only see positive impacts coming from it. There have been studies conducted that show that teams with players coming from different countries perform significantly better than their opposites. While this might be related to players of higher talent coming to play in another country, I truly believe that the multiculturalism in teams can improve a teams performance by itself. Different points of view, different previous experiences and different ways to approach the game can benefit the teams performance, but also help the current players to improve themselves on the court and off the court, as it helps them develop very important and not always available social skills, including inclusiveness, a sense of camaraderie and overall a more positive way of looking at people and the world itself.

 

“Interview with Special Olympics Europe Eurasia”

1- The organization is called “Special Olympics Europe Eurasia “. Can you describe shortly the role and the aims of this organization?

Special Olympics Europe Eurasia is one of seven regions within the Special Olympics movement. Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health, and leadership. 

 

Special Olympics in Europe Eurasia encompasses a diverse range of cultures, languages and customs traversing 58 countries in Western, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. From Iceland to Israel, from Portugal to Russia, Special Olympics promotes respect, inclusion and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities through sports. There are close to 543,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities in the Europe Eurasia region. The next two Special Olympics World Games—World Winter Games 2022 in Kazan, Russia and World Summer Games 2023 in Berlin, Germany—will take place in the Europe Eurasia region, bringing increased awareness and support for our movement and increased visibility for our athletes and their message of inclusion.

 

2- What type of activities do you do related to sports and social integration?

Special Olympics Unified Sports®:

 

Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an excellent example of our work connecting sports with social integration. Team sports bring people together and Unified Sports means that players with and without intellectual disabilities play on the same team together, promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. The concept of Unified Sports was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. On these teams, the players win and lose together, building connections, trust, respect and naturally fostering inclusion through sport.   

 

In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability. That makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all. Having sport in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away.

Special Olympics ‘Unified with Refugees’ programme

 

Special Olympics ‘Unified with Refugees’ brings the transformative power of sport to the most marginalized and amplifies our calls for social inclusion. Refugees and other people on the move often live on the fringes of the societies to which they flee, due to lack of acceptance and poor access to resources. People with intellectual disabilities (ID) know the social isolation and exclusion that people on the move face. That is why Special Olympics is bringing Unified Sports to refugee camps, reception centers, and host communities. Players with intellectual disabilities and refugees play side by side, helping refugees demonstrate the ways in which they can contribute positively in their new homes, providing pathways to community and acceptance. Gerald Mballe, originally from Cameroon and now living in Italy, first came into contact with Special Olympics through our ‘Unified with Refugees’ programme and he embodies the power of the programme. He is now our first ever Advisor for the ‘Unified with Refugees’ programme. Gerald says, “Joining the Special Olympics Europe Eurasia team as the first-ever Advisor for the Unified with Refugees programme is the most exciting thing happening in my life right now. Having a role as a Unified partner on the pitch—and advisor off the pitch—for me is the best way to give back in return for the overwhelming welcome the athletes of Special Olympics gave me some years ago when they invited me into their family during moments of great personal desperation. I can’t wait to get started!”

 

Read more about Gerald: https://www.specialolympics.org/stories/news/gerald-mballe-becomes-first-ever-advisor-for-unified-with-refugees-programme?locale=en 

 

3- Do you think that sports can break some social barriers and integrate everyone in the society?

Absolutely! The power of sport to break barriers and progress integration is the foundation on which our movement was built. We have expanded our work into other areas such as inclusive health, Unified Schools and Unified Leadership but the power of sport to drive social inclusion remains the beating heart of our movement. The incredible expansion of our movement across the world since its foundation by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968 demonstrates just how effective sports is as a tool to tackle exclsuion: In 1968 about 1,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from the USA and Canada competed in the first Special Olympics International Summer Games in Chicago – today, Special Olympics has more than six million athletes and Unified Sports partners in over 190 countries and territories and more than one million coaches and volunteers, and delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year.

 

Programmes across Europe Eurasia even stayed as active as they could during lockdown. Here are just some of the activities that they organised: https://www.specialolympics.org/stories/news/online-national-games-across-europe-eurasia?locale=en 

 

4- What can you tell us about the progress of the children since the day that they started get in touch with sports activities?

For many children with intellectual disabilities, their first experience of Special Olympics is through our Young Athletes programme. Special Olympics Young Athletes is a sport and play programme for children with and without intellectual disabilities (ID), aged two to seven years old. Parents, teachers and caregivers have reported impressive development The focus is on motor skills, social, emotional and learning skills. Parents and teachers of children who took part in the programme have reported impressive developmental and social progress. For example: 

 

• Motor skills. Children with ID who took part in an eight-week Young Athletes curriculum saw seven month’s development in motor skill. This is compared to a three month gain in motor skills for children who did not participate.

• Social, emotional and learning skills. Parents and teachers of children who took part in the Young Athletes curriculum said the children learned skills that they will use in pre-primary school. The children were more enthusiastic and confident. They also played better with other children.

• Expectations. Family members say that Young Athletes raised their hopes for their child’s future.

• Sport readiness. Young Athletes helps children develop important movement and sport skills. These skills get them ready to take part in sports and recreation activities when they are older.

• Acceptance. Inclusive play has a benefit for children without ID as well. It helps them to better understand and accept others.

In 2019, there were over 35,000 Young Athletes in Europe Eurasia and over 580,000 worldwide. Here is a story about how Young Athletes stayed active during lockdown: https://www.specialolympics.org/stories/news/pioneering-programme-to-support-young-athletes-in-montenegro?locale=en 

    

5- How do you see the impact of sports in social integration?

We see sports as the ultimate unifier. With our Unified with Refugees programme, sports builds bridges between the displaced communities and athletes with intellectual disabilities and creates the opportunity to reach refugees and other displaced persons with intellectual disabilities and their families—the most marginalized among the marginalized. Speaking after a Unified with Refugees event in Brussels in October 2019, Hamza, a Special Olympics Belgium athlete said, “It was fun to play with [the refugee players]. Even though we do not speak the same language, we played well together and understood each other”. Here is a video that gives a taste of the Unified with Refugees experience: https://youtu.be/QANV7g8_fv4 

 

Regarding Unified Sports, today, with over 1.6 million Unified teammates compete in over 30 sports around the world, and the momentum continues to grow. Jake Van Mierlo, Unified Partner, explains how sports unites and drives understanding and connection. He says, “It’s not he or she. It’s us and we.” Watch this video to learn more about Unified Sports: https://www.jointherevolution.org/50-game-changers/unified-sports

 

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Historical and political conflict between Greece and Turkey, by Cheima H'mida

06/07/2021

Relationships between Greece and Turkey have always been marked by an alternation of hostility periods and reconciliation periods. From the occupation of the Ottoman Empire, the sharing of the lands after its fall until economic and geopolitical issues to this day, conflicts seem still to persist. 

 

The aim is to try to understand the how and why, from the situation of the past which might has led to the situation now. Only a tiny fraction of centuries of history is being told. This is not a history class and it has not been written by a professor or a historian. This is just a small article written from the point of view of a young European adult neither Greek, nor Turkish, trying to better understand the origins of a “conflict” between two countries with so many similarities. 

 

From the creation of the Ottoman Empire until Greece independence (1299 – 1832)

 

The Ottoman Empire was founded in 1299 in the North-West of Anatolia (current Turkey). All over the years, it has conquered and controlled many countries in North Africa, Asia and Europe, Greece included. It became a multinational and multilingual Empire with Constantinople as a capital.

 

 

"Territories of the Ottoman Empire in its greatest expansion"

 

 

 

 

During the occupation, non-Muslim and so Greek people had to pay a bill, the kharâj or haraç, but it was less expensive than during the Byzantine era. It was not mandatory for Greek to be Muslim but a lot of them reverted for economic reasons. Besides, they did not take part in the Army except 1 son in each family. A lot of Greek tried to oppose these laws in vain.

 

Thus, the presence of the Ottomans in Greece led to important migratory movements by Greek people who were running away from the invaders. New villages were built, often high in the mountains and in inhabited places in order to hide. Intellectuals also moved from Greece to Western Europe. 

 

In the middle of the XVIII century, Greek migrants who went to Western Europe were influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment which were little by little spread in Greece awakening the national feeling of the State. Thus, the popular discontent, the national spirit, the growing economy of Greek, all of this added to the help of Russia, France and UK lead Greek people to be confident enough to fight for their freedom in 1821 during almost a decade. The creation of a Greek State was finally established with a last treaty in 1832.  

 

The aim of Western countries was not really to help Greek people but only to replace the Ottoman Empire in order to gain some territories as well, have a notable influence and after occupying countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and colonize as well. 

 

Fall of the Ottoman Empire and sharing of the lands (1830 - 1923)

 

The Ottoman Empire came through a lot of military defeats and lost a lot of territories at the end of the XVIII century which led it to have an alliance with Germany before the First World War, trying to escape from diplomatic isolation. Thus, it got engaged in World War 1 with Germany but lost this war. 

 

The day after the First World War, the Ottoman Empire lost almost all its territories now divided between France and the UK. The treaty of Sevres, signed in 1920, was established to divide the territories of the Ottoman Empire between France, UK, Italie and even Greece.  Initially in this treaty, the kingdom of Greece would have been constituted by the current Greece, eastern Thracian and Smirne region, two regions where Greek and Turkish people were living all together. Greek soldiers landed in Turkish territory even before the treaty was signed.  

 

This treaty was considered as a humiliation and the Sultan, by signing it, lost all its legitimacy with the population and the Army. A second political power, led by Mustafa Kemal, was created and Turkish forces fought against Greek forces that were occupying Smirne region, Eastern Thracian and some islands. The conflict ended with a victory of Turkish army which canceled the treaty of Sevres, replaced by the treaty of Lausanne in 1923. Greece left all its territorial gains from 1920, except most of the islands in Aegean Sea.

 

 

"Territorial expansion of Greece (1932 – 1947)"

 

Moreover, people from current Turkey and current Greece had to move to assure a religious homogeneity in the newly formed countries. A tragic exchange of population began between the two countries: around 1.500.000 Greek people from Turkey and 500.000 Turkish people from Greece have been driven out of their homes.

Thus, with the defeat of Greece and those deportations, the Greek presence in Anatolia (previous Turkey) ended. Atrocities committed by Tukish army but also by Greek army during its occupation in Anatolia remained in the minds. 

 

 

Economic and geopolitical conflict (1923 – now)

After the War, the leaders of Greece and Turkey were determined to establish normal relationships between the two States. Treaties are signed and Greece gives up all its claims in the Turkish territory. Despite all this willingness to improve and keep a good diplomatic relationship, some problems persisted and still persist now.

 Cyprus crises

 

The main conflict between Greece and Turkey after the 50s was about Cyprus. Cyprus became independent and its population was shared between Greek and Turkish people. During the dictatorship in Greece, a lot of political opponents went to hide in Cyprus and in 1974, the National Guard led by Greek officers tried a coup against the Cypriot president and obtained the power by force. Their aim was the unification of Cyprus with Greece. Turkey intervened militarily for the protection of the interests of Turkish community of the island and the restoration of order. After that, the island was divided into two distinct entities – the North with a majority of Turkish people and the South with a majority of Greek people - and separated by “The Green Line” whose aim is to maintain peace in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Current possession of Greece (blue) and Turkey (red) in the Aegean Sea"

Conflict in Aegean Sea

 

New problems appear between the two countries about the sovereignty rights in the Aegean Sea. Greece obtained all the islands in the Sea – except Imbros and Tenedos – and some of them are located only a few kilometers away from Turkey. Until today, the problem of some control zones is still unresolved. Greece wants to extend the width of its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea but Turkey, which considers this as an unfair decision, threatened Greece in any case it tries to apply this law unilaterally. In 2020, Turkey entered Greek waters to conduct gas research and this caused maximum tension in Greece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Territorial waters with the extension that Greece wants" 


The problem is also extended to the air: the two countries do not agree on the width of the nation’s air space. Turkish aviation regularly flies in areas where Greece demands control while the Greek air force constantly intercepts them. In January 2021, Greece bought to France 18 Rafale fighter jets for 2.5 billion euros while its country might face another crisis after the coronavirus pandemic which affected the economy a lot.

 

Question of refugees

The problems and incidents concerning “clandestine immigration” are very frequent in the borders of Greece and Turkey. Turkey is a crossing point for migrants who want to reach Europe. The borders were closed since 2016 but the situation now is different: Turkey cannot handle anymore the many refugees in its territory and announced in February 2020 that they would no longer prevent refugees from attempting to cross its borders into Europe. Greece reacted by using many inhuman measures which go against European and international Law. A lot of refugees are now stuck in the border between Greece and Turkey waiting to enter Europe and for their case to be examined.

 

In the beginning of June 2021, Greece announced that it would recognize Turkey as a safe country for asylum seekers coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia. Thus, these refugees coming to Greece, passing by Turkey, will be sent back and their asylum application will be ruled inadmissible. 

 

And so?

 

Despite all the wars from the past during the Ottoman Empire time, the problems that appeared after played a big role in the evolution of the relationships between the two countries. Some of them are out of control, without mentioning the involvement of Western countries, since the dawn of time, for their own benefit.

 

Those problems concern mainly the governments but regardless, it is two amazing countries with so many similarities in their culture: gastronomy, music, architecture and really warm people. The average citizens love each other - without including extremely nationalistic politicians - and the two countries try as best as they can to improve their economic and commercial relationships.

 


Bibliography 

 

• Countryballs Explained – Why Greece and Turkey hate each other, 2019 [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcw17YC4AtM]

• France 5 – The Ottoman Empire and the West, 2011 [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haXK9uAWYHw&t=93s]

• Arte – End of Ottomans, 2015 [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG2TqH5F1IE&t=1588s]

• Knowledgia – The history of the Ottoman Empire, 2021 [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG2TqH5F1IE&t=1588s]

• La nouvelle République – Greece Turkey: a conflict that lasts for 50 years in Aegean Sea, 2020 [https://www.lanouvellerepublique.fr/a-la-une/long-format-grece-turquie-un-conflit-qui-dure-depuis-50-ans-en-mer-egee]

• Le Monde – Why Greece and Turkey confront each other in Eastern Mediterranean, 2020 [https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2020/09/14/pourquoi-la-grece-et-la-turquie-s-affrontent-en-mediterranee-orientale_6052162_3210.html]

• Amnesty International – What is happening in the borders between Greece and Turkey, 2020 [https://www.amnesty.org/fr/latest/news/2020/03/greece-turkey-refugees-explainer/]

• InfoMigrants (Greece) [https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/country/Gr%C3%A8ce/]

• Wikipédia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page]

 

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In the Shoes of Teenage Asylum Seekers, by Aurore Desbourdes

25/4/2021

The organization Youth Center of Epirus hosts a facility Agios Athanasios (Άγιος Αθανάσιος) since august 2020 and volunteers help at the facility because the pandemic crisis them change and adapt work to the situation.

 

I arrived at the beginning of this project and we build it slowly from September until today. This new program gives opportunity to the volunteers of Youth Center of Epirus to provide a non-formal education on several topics to these teenagers. The facility of Agios Athanasios is located in the mountainous region of Zagori, near to Ioannina. It hosts 40 teenagers - asylum seekers from 12 to 18 years old. The place is managed by social workers, teachers, cookers, caretakers, director and others, to give these youngsters a comfortable place to live, a stable basic knowledge and a social, psychological and physical help to develop themselves in the local society and in the future.

 

Living in a small facility such as Agios Athanasios can be very challenging in several aspects, especially in this pandemic period and since November 2020 the lockdown does not allow them to go to the city when schools are closed. The pandemic situation makes life very difficult for these teenagers, some of them are there for 6 or 7 months and have been in Ioannina only 6 times or less. They had to learn to live in community all together with the only possibility to leave the place for very short times and for emergency. Which is why, our work is very important to them. We are here to entertain them, educate them on many interesting and essentials topics. The activities we organize allow them to interact, to have fun and to learn at the same time. This experience is also very rewarding and instructive for us, the volunteers, because we share a lot about our culture and the teenagers share also about theirs.

 

The workers main goal is to provide basics needs and education to these youngsters and secondly to find relatives of them. This chance allows them to leave the facility and to build a life with a relative. If no relatives are found, the teenager will stay in the facility until 18 years old or until their asylum seeker application is rejected. Then he is allowed to leave the place to live in an apartment with help and financial support of another program or is being sent back to their country of origin.

 

Since we arrived, some teenagers have left the facility, to join another asylum seekers who are older than 18, or to join a relative. For example, one teenager left to Thessaloniki to live in an apartment, and another, who is younger than 18, left to Germany to join a parent. These teenagers have many different dreams, ambitions, or future projects. They mostly want to settle in Europe. Indeed, some teenagers shared with me that they want to go to Sweden, to England, or Switzerland. They all have very different wishes that are reflected in their future career plans. Most of them are very sportive, and few teenagers want to pursuit this vocation, for example, to be a fitness trainer or professional athlete in football or bodybuilding. Other teenagers are more focused on computer and gaming field and they would like to become computer developers.

 

I had the opportunity to speak more precisely with some teenagers and to share a bit of their background and ambitions. Two of them are twins from Yemen, and they shared with me about their experience in Greece. After being in Athens for few months and almost in Agios Athanasios for almost six months, they left the facility in mid-March, to live in an apartment in Ioannina. They wished to leave earlier but, like every other teenager, they had to wait to be older than 16 years. It is a real relief for them to leave and move towards a change. After staying in two facilities, they can finally  pursue their life and long term goals. Considering that they are still minors, the twins will continue to go to school and then explore a particular direction about which they still don’t have a clear idea yet. They will still have the social and financial help of another program, and it will help them with their plans.

Talents

Through this volunteering, we have created a wide variety of projects all together, the volunteers and the residents of the facility. These activities have allowed them to develop different skills, to share their talents, their interests, and their creativity with us.

 

Some teenagers have a real talent in any activity related to art, such as painting or drawing.  They also painted and decorated the walls of the facility with one of the teachers and our help. This activity allowed them to improve their painting skills, precision and imagination, meanwhile, making the communal living place more welcoming and to their taste. Some of them have building, creating skills. We combined our ideas with the skills of these teenagers.

The teenagers really enjoy gardening as well this is a good way to learn responsibilities and organization to take care of the plants and the garden, even if the volunteers are not there to look after it. In the pictures above, you can see creation of squares that will contain plants and a circle in the middle with flowers. And a door that will have climbing plants, spiral garden and green house. 

As well, we the possibly to manage some cooking activities which were very interesting to perform. The youngsters really enjoyed it, and some of them have great skills in this topic.  For example, here you can see creation of ravioli with spinach and mushrooms.

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Series of Inspiring Feminism and Sorority Stories: ΙΣΧΥΡΗ, by Joana Detchart

7/5/2021

Series of inspiring feminism and sorority stories have started! ΙΣΧΥΡΗ or Powerful Series will tell you about inspiring women in our city Ioannina and Epirus region. We wish you will connect to them through their stories follow this series on the ΙΣΧΥΡΗ or Powerful page. 


Story of a Refugee, by Joseph Taher

9/4/2021

In Greece there are thousands of refugees and asylum seekers. We tend to hear about them in numbers; - numbers of arrivals, numbers of asylum procedures, numbers of the expenses related to them. But every single number is a human being with a unique story. This is the story of Sawsan - a Syrian refugee in Ioannina. She is one of the many, who has a story to tell. This is the story of her journey.  

 

Measures have been taken to conceal the identity and to keep the anonymity of Sawsan for the protection of her and her family. 


Women's Day / New Series of Inspiring Feminism and Sorority Stories: ΙΣΧΥΡΗ, by Joana Detchart

8/3/2021

Η 8η Μαρτίου είναι η Παγκόσμια Ημέρα της Γυναίκας.

Παρά την αβεβαιότητα και με ένα μέρος της ιστορίας να μην είναι ομόφωνο, η προέλευση της 8ης Μαρτίου ως διεθνούς ημέρας για τον αγώνα και την υπεράσπιση των δικαιωμάτων των γυναικών σε όλο τον κόσμο, βασίζεται στους αγώνες των εργατών και τις πολλές διαδηλώσεις στις αρχές του 20ού αιώνα σε όλο τον κόσμο. Τα αιτήματα της εποχής ήταν: το δικαίωμα ψήφου, το δικαίωμα για καλύτερες συνθήκες εργασίας και ισότητα μεταξύ ανδρών και γυναικών, που ήταν όλα μέρος μιας επαναστατικής προοπτικής.

Αυτή η ημερομηνία επαναλήφθηκε καθ’ όλη τη διάρκεια των ετών, έως ότου η φεμινιστική αναβίωση της δεκαετίας του 1970 έκανε την 8η Μαρτίου τη «Παγκόσμια Ημέρα της Γυναίκας», που αναγνωρίστηκε και επίσημα από τα Ηνωμένα Έθνη το 1977. Τώρα είναι μια κρίσιμη ημέρα σε ολόκληρο τον κόσμο, όπου οι φεμινιστικές ομάδες και οι ενώσεις υψώνουν τις φωνές τους: μια ευκαιρία αποτίμησης της κατάστασης των γυναικών και απαίτησης της ισότητα των φύλων ξανά και ξανά, μέσω μιας αλλαγής παραδείγματος και του τέλους της πατριαρχίας.

Σε αυτήν την περίπτωση, ας θυμηθούμε ότι ο αγώνας για ίσα δικαιώματα, ευκαιρίες και πλήρη ύπαρξη μεταξύ των φύλων δεν είναι κάτι που γιορτάζεται μόνο μία φορά το χρόνο. Οι σημερινές κοινωνίες θεωρούνται από και για τους άνδρες (1). Η πεποίθηση αυτή καθιστά τον αγώνα για την ισότητα των φύλων μια καθημερινή μάχη για όσους ενδιαφέρονται και αγωνίζονται για αυτό.

Αντιμέτωποι με το Covid-19, η τρέχουσα υγεία, οικονομική και κοινωνική κρίση θέτει εκατομμύρια γυναίκες (2) και LGBTQIA+ άτομα σε μια εξαιρετικά επισφαλή/ αβέβαιη κατάσταση. Στην πρώτη γραμμή του αγώνα κατά του κοροναϊού, οι γυναίκες αντιπροσωπεύουν την πλειονότητα των επαγγελματιών στον τομέα της υγείας. Ωστόσο, πληρώνονται 11% λιγότερα από τους άντρες ομολόγους τους παγκοσμίως (3) και η τρέχουσα κρίση βυθίζει την πλειονότητα αυτών σε αβεβαιότητα λόγω της κοινωνικής τους αναγνώρισης στις κοινωνίες μας. Πράγματι, η πανδημία έδωσε σίγουρα ορατότητα στους βασικούς ρόλους των γυναικών στα κοινωνικά μας συστήματα, χωρίς να τις ενσωματώσει στις διαδικασίες λήψης αποφάσεων και στους κύριους τομείς εξουσίας στις χώρες μας. Η υγεία, η προσωπική βοήθεια, το νοικοκυριό, η εκπαίδευση, η μαζική διανομή και άλλοι τομείς είναι χώροι όπου οι γυναίκες, οι μετανάστες, οι φυλετικοί, οι νέοι και οι επισφαλείς, υπερεκπροσωπούν τις συνθήκες εργασίας. Η ευθραυστότητα ενός τέτοιου μοντέλου επηρεάζει τις γυναίκες όχι μόνο στον επαγγελματικό κόσμο αλλά και στον ιδιωτικό τομέα, όπου η κατανομή και και το μοίρασμα των οικιακών καθηκόντων παραμένει άνιση. Τέλος, πρέπει να θυμόμαστε ότι τα μέτρα που ελήφθησαν κατά τις ισχυρότερες στιγμές της πανδημίας, ιδίως η απόφαση κλειδώματος, έβαλαν πολλές γυναίκες σε άνευ προηγουμένου ευπάθεια, καθιστώντας πολύ δύσκολο για αυτές να ξεφύγουν από την ενδοοικογενειακή βία της οποίας είναι θύματα.

 

«Οι γυναίκες σε όλο τον κόσμο απαιτούν και αξίζουν ένα ισότιμο μέλλον χωρίς προκατάληψη, στερεότυπα και βία · ένα βιώσιμο και ειρηνικό μέλλον με ίσα δικαιώματα και ευκαιρίες για όλους. Για να επιτευχθεί αυτό, ο κόσμος απαιτεί την παρουσία των γυναικών σε όλες τις θέσεις λήψεων αποφάσεων» (4).

 

Οι αγώνες είναι πολλοί και πολλαπλασιάζονται και οι φεμινιστικές προόδους και νίκες δεν αποκτώνται ποτέ οριστικά. Ο φεμινισμός δεν σκέφτεται τον εαυτό του σε μια μοναδική και αποκλειστική μορφή, αλλά στις πολλές πτυχές που διαθέτει, όσο είμαστε μοναδικοί και διαφορετικοί. Ας κάνουμε αυτόν τον πλούτο πολλαπλότητας και εξαίρεσης μια δύναμη. Ας είμαστε σε αλληλεγγύη με όλες τις γυναίκες σε όλο τον κόσμο και ας κάνουμε αυτήν την ημέρα μια κατεύθυνση για να οικοδομήσουμε τις αλληλεγγύες μας, και ας κάνουμε τον φεμινιστικό αγώνα ένα κοινωνικό σχέδιο για την κοινωνία στην οποία φιλοδοξούμε!

Με αυτήν την ευκαιρία, είμαστε στην ευχάριστη θέση να ανακοινώσουμε το νέο έργο μας με τίτλο ΙΣΧΥΡΗ (5). Η Joana είναι εθελόντρια του οργανισμού μας, μέσα από το πρόγραμμα του European Solidarity Corps και θα μας παρουσιάσει μια σειρά φεμινιστικών συνεντεύξεων μέσω των οποίων θέλουμε να επισημάνουμε ισχυρές και εμπνευσμένες γυναίκες που θα έχουμε τη χαρά να συναντήσουμε στα Ιωάννινα τους επόμενους μήνες.

 

«Θέλω να κάνω το φεμινισμό μου μια ευκαιρία να μοιραστώ και να προωθήσω την ύπαρξη εξαιρετικών ανθρώπων στα μάτια μου, προκειμένου να εξερευνήσω μαζί σας τις εμπνευσμένες ιστορίες των καλεσμένων μου. Να κάνω τη φωνή μου γέφυρα ανάμεσα σε ζωές και εμπειρίες, και πάνω απ 'όλα να δώσω πίσω σε όσους με εμπνέουν το σωστό μέρος που τους δίνω».

 

Τα λέμε σύντομα για το υπόλοιπο αυτής της συναρπαστικής περιπέτειας!

Long live sorority!

 

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March 8th is International Women's Day.

Despite some uncertainty and a part of history that does not remain unanimous, the origin of March 8 as an international day for the struggle and defense of women's rights around the world is rooted in the workers' struggles and the many demonstrations of the early 20th century around the world. The demands of the time were those for the right to vote, better working conditions and equality between men and women, all of which were part of a revolutionary perspective.

This date was echoed throughout the years, until the feminist revival of the 1970s made March 8th the "International Women's Day", officially recognized as such by the United Nations in 1977. It is now a crucial day throughout the world, when feminist groups and associations raise their voices: an opportunity to take stock of the situation of women and to demand gender equality again and again, through a paradigm shift and the end of patriarchy.

On this occasion, let us remember that the struggle for equal rights, opportunities and full existence between the genders is not something to be celebrated only once a year. Today's societies are thought by and for men (1) . This gap makes the fight for gender equality an every second struggle for those who are concerned, and this for the whole of life.

Faced with Covid-19, the current health, economic and social crisis places millions of women (2) and LGBTQIA+ people in an extremely precarious situation. Put at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus, women represent the majority of health professionals in the field. Yet they are paid 11% less than their male counterparts worldwide (3) and the current crisis is plunging the most of them into precariousness due to their social recognition in our societies. Indeed, the pandemic has certainly given visibility to the essential roles of women in our social systems, without integrating them into the decision-making processes and the main spheres of authority in our countries. Health, personal assistance, household, education, mass distribution, and others are all sectors where women, migrants, racialized, young, and precarious, are over-represented and working conditions are affected. The fragility of such a model impacts women not only in the professional world but also in the private sphere, where the distribution and sharing of domestic tasks remains unequal. Finally, it should be remembered that the measures taken during the strongest moments of the pandemic, particularly the decision of lockdown has put many women into unprecedented vulnerability, making it very difficult for them to escape the domestic violence of which they are victims.

 

"Women around the world are demanding and deserve an egalitarian future free of prejudice, stereotypes and violence; a sustainable and peaceful future with equal rights and opportunities for all. To achieve this, the world requires the presence of women in all decision-making" (4).

 

The struggles are many and multiple, and feminist advances and victories are never definitively acquired. Feminism does not think of itself in a single and exclusive form, but in the many facets it has, as many as we are unique and different. Let us make this richness of multiplicity and exception a strength. Let us be in solidarity with all women throughout the world and let us make this day a direction to take for the construction of our solidarities, and let us make the feminist struggle a social project for the society to which we aspire!

It is on this occasion as important and significant for us that we are pleased to announce the new project : ΙΣΧΥΡΗ (5) (“powerful”). Joana is a volunteer of our organization, through the program of the European Solidarity Corps and she will present us a series of feminist interviews through which we wish to highlight powerful and inspiring women that she will have the pleasure to meet in Ioannina over the next 6 months.

 

“I wish to make my feminism an opportunity to share and promote the existence of exceptional people in my eyes, in order to explore with you the inspiring stories of my guests. To make my voice a bridge between lives and experiences, and above all to give back to those who inspire me the rightful place I give them.”

 

See you soon for the rest of this exciting adventure!

Long live the sorority!

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1 cis-gender men

2 I mean by "women" all people who identify themselves as such, and by extension I include in my reflection all the different gender identities from the spectrum, other than cis-gender men

3 https://www.unwomen.org/.../in.../international-womens-day

4 https://www.unwomen.org/.../in.../international-womens-day

5 ΙΣΧΥΡΗ is a project with multiple formats, depending on the guests, presenting through interviews the inspiring existence of women from Ioannina. The bases of the project are: feminism, sorority, sharing


"Refugees" by Brian Bilston / Socially engaged literature "The Poem of the Week" by Beatriz Ribero da Silva

1/3/2021

Οι εθελοντές του Κέντρου Νέων Ηπείρου σας παρουσιάζουν:

 

«The Poem of the Week» είναι μία πρωτοβουλία που έχει ως στόχο να μοιραστεί μαζί σας ποιήματα που σχετίζονται με θέματα όπως το Μεταναστευτικό και το Προσφυγικό. Αυτή η πρωτοβουλία είναι ζωτικής σημασίας καθώς αναδεικνύει  ότι υπάρχουν μη τυπικοί τρόποι εκπαίδευσης για να μάθουμε για τα κοινωνικά θέματα και ότι η Λογοτεχνία είναι ένας όμορφος τρόπος για να το πετύχουμε. 

Κάθε εβδομάδα επιλέγουμε ένα ποίημα σχετικά με το  Μεταναστευτικό και το Προσφυγικό και το μοιραζόμαστε στη σελίδα μας στο Facebook / Instagram αλλά και στην ιστοσελίδα μας. Το ποίημα συνοδεύεται από την ανάλυση της σημασίας του και από μια σύντομη περιγραφή του συγγραφέα και του έργου του. Το ποίημα αυτής της εβδομάδας έχει τίτλο «Refugees», από τον Άγγλο ποιητή και συγγραφέα Brian Bilston.

 

REFUGEES, by Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help

So do not tell me

These haggard faces could belong to you or me

Should life have dealt a different hand

We need to see them for who they really are

Chancers and scroungers

Layabouts and loungers

With bombs up their sleeves

Cut-throats and thieves

They are not

Welcome here

We should make them

Go back to where they came from

They cannot

Share our food

Share our homes

Share our countries

Instead let us

Build a wall to keep them out

It is not okay to say

These are people just like us

A place should only belong to those who are born there

Do not be so stupid to think that

The world can be looked at another way

(τώρα διαβάστε από κάτω προς τα πάνω)

 

Ανάλυση ποιήματος

Το ποίημα αυτής της εβδομάδας έχει ιδιαίτερο ενδιαφέρον με την πρώτη ματιά. Ως αναγνώστης μπορεί να αναρωτιέστε: γιατί να μοιράζονται ένα κείμενο ενάντια στους πρόσφυγες;

Σήμερα, με τις πολλές ειδήσεις που διαβάζουμε στα μέσα κοινωνικής δικτύωσης και την παραπληροφόρηση που προκύπτει από αυτό, είναι εύκολο να διαμορφωθούν ιδέες προκατάληψης για πρόσφυγες και αιτούντες άσυλο. Αυτό το συγκινητικό ποίημα μας θυμίζει ότι οι λέξεις μπορούν εύκολα να γίνουν όπλα και η γραμμή που χωρίζει δύο αντιφατικές απόψεις μερικές φορές δεν είναι τόσο μεγάλη.

Πρέπει να έχουμε επίγνωση του τρόπου με τον οποίο εκφράζουμε τον εαυτό μας και να προσπαθούμε να κατανοήσουμε τις προοπτικές των προσφύγων και των αιτούντων άσυλο, γιατί ποτέ δεν ξέρουμε τι είδους εκπλήξεις μπορεί να έχει η ζωή για εμάς. Όπως λέει ο Bilston «Αν η ζωή είχε ένα διαφορετικό χέρι / Αυτά τα αγέρωχα πρόσωπα θα μπορούσαν να ανήκουν σε εσάς ή εμένα».

 

Σχετικά με τον Συγγραφέα

Ο Brian Bilston  είναι το ψευδώνυμο του Paul Millicheap, πρώην ακαδημαϊκού εκδότη από την Οξφόρδη. Ο Bilston άρχισε να δημοσιεύει τα ποιήματά του στο Twitter και γρήγορα έγινε διάσημος (σήμερα έχει 80.000 ακόλουθους στο Twitter, μαζί με 51.000 στο Instagram και 41.000 στο Facebook). Ονομάζεται συχνά "Banksy" του κόσμου της ποίησης και κέρδισε τον τίτλο του Poet Laureate του Twitter.

Ένα από τα πιο ενδιαφέροντα χαρακτηριστικά του έργου του είναι ότι η μορφή είναι σχεδόν πάντα αντισυμβατική: τα ποιήματα μπορούν να εμφανιστούν ως στοιχεία Scrabble, εικόνες δέντρων, tweets, υπολογιστικά φύλλα Excel ακόμη και διαγράμματα Venn. Εάν ενδιαφέρεστε να αναζητήσετε περισσότερα για τον συγγραφέα, ο Brian έχει δημοσιεύσει τέσσερα βιβλία: “You took the last bus home” (2017), “Refugees” (2019), “Diary of a somebody” και “Alexa, what is there to know about love?” (2021).

Σας προσκαλούμε να συνεχίσετε να τσεκάρετε τη σελίδα μας στο Facebook / Instagram για περισσότερα βίντεο σχετικά με την κοινωνικά δεσμευμένη ποίηση. Την επόμενη εβδομάδα θα μοιραστούμε μαζί σας ακόμη ένα ποίημα!

 

***

 

The volunteers of the Youth Center of Epirus present:

 

“The Poem of the Week”, a  weekly initiative that aims to share poems related to the themes of Migration & Refugees. This initiative was born from the understanding that is vital to show that there are non-formal ways to learn about social topics and that Literature is a beautiful way to do it. 

Every week we will select a poem about Migration & Refugees and share it on our Facebook/Instagram page and website. The poem will be accompanied by an analysis of its meaning and a brief description of the author and its work.

This week’s poem is entitled “Refugees”, by the English poet and writer Brian Bilston.

 

REFUGEES, by Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help

So do not tell me

These haggard faces could belong to you or me

Should life have dealt a different hand

We need to see them for who they really are

Chancers and scroungers

Layabouts and loungers

With bombs up their sleeves

Cut-throats and thieves

They are not

Welcome here

We should make them

Go back to where they came from

They cannot

Share our food

Share our homes

Share our countries

Instead let us

Build a wall to keep them out

It is not okay to say

These are people just like us

A place should only belong to those who are born there

Do not be so stupid to think that

The world can be looked at another way

(now read from bottom to top)

 

Poem Analysis

This week’s poem is particularly intriguing at first sight. As a reader you might be asking yourself: why are they sharing a text against refugees? 

Nowadays, with the numerous news we read on social media and the disinformation that derives from that, it is easy to form preconceived ideas about refugees and asylum seekers. This touching poem reminds us that words can easily become weapons and the line that separates two contrasting opinions sometimes it is not that long.

We need to be conscious about how we express ourselves and try to understand refugees and asylum seeker’s perspectives, because we never know what kind of surprises life might have for us. As Bilston says “Should life have dealt a different hand/These haggard faces could belong to you or me”. 

 

About the Author

Brian Bilston is the pseudonym of Paul Millicheap, a former academic publisher from Oxford. Bilston started publishing his poems on Twitter and quickly became famous (nowadays he has 80,000 followers on Twitter, alongside 51,000 on Instagram, and 41,000 on Facebook). He is often called the “Banksy” of the poetry world and won the title of Poet Laureate of Twitter. 

One of the most interesting characteristics of his work is that the form is almost always unconventional: poems can appear as Scrabble clues, tree images, tweets, Excel spreadsheets and even Venn diagrams.  If you are interested in searching more about the author, Brian has four books published: “You took the last bus home” (2017), “Refugees” (2019), “Diary of a somebody” and “Alexa, what is there to know about love?” (2021). 

 

We invite you to keep checking our Facebook/Instagram page and website for more videos about socially engaged literature. Next week we will share with you another poem!


"They Took Your Home From You Now They Call You Refugee" by Nikita Gill / Socially engaged literature: "The Poem of the Week" by Beatriz Ribeiro da Silva

16/2/2021

«The Poem of the Week» είναι μία πρωτοβουλία που έχει ως στόχο να μοιραστεί μαζί σας ποιήματα που σχετίζονται με θέματα όπως το Μεταναστευτικό και το Προσφυγικό.

 

Αυτή την εβδομάδα σας παρουσιάζουμε το ποίημα «They Took Your Home From You Now They Call You Refugee» από τη Βρετανίδα – Ινδή ποιήτρια και συγγραφέα Nikita Gill. Η Gill είναι μία από τις πιο επιτυχημένες «Instapoets» των ημερών μας έχοντας δημοσιεύσει πάνω από 360 δημοσιεύσεις. (Instapoetry είναι ένα στυλ ποίησης που προέκυψε ως αποτέλεσμα των μέσων κοινωνικής δικτύωσης).

 

Πιστεύουμε ότι το ποίημα της Gill είναι συναρπαστικό και συναισθηματικό. Περιγράφει πώς η έννοια του «σπιτιού» αλλάζει αναπόφευκτα για κάποιον που είναι τώρα πρόσφυγας. Το πιο σημαντικό, τονίζει την ιδέα ότι το να γίνεις πρόσφυγας δεν είναι επιλογή. Κανείς δεν θέλει να εγκαταλείψει το σπίτι του και να μετακομίσει σε άλλη χώρα, εκτός εάν προσπαθεί να σώσει τη ζωή του.

 

«They Took Your Home From You Now They Call You Refugee», by Nikita Gill

 

Home is a language 

you grew in your mouth

that now no longer exists anywhere

but inside your heart and head

 

Home is where

you had to teach your children

how to run from men who are dressed 

in war and blood

 

Home is now a legend

a story of where you grew up,

happy and safe before

they set your entire world aflame.

 

Home is where you ran to the sea

because the place you once belonged to,

now no longer remembers your name.

 

Home was your refuge.

Now, after cruelly taking it from you,

they call you a refugee.

 

Σας προσκαλούμε να συνεχίσετε να τσεκάρετε τη σελίδα μας στο Facebook /Instagram για περισσότερα βίντεο σχετικά με την κοινωνικά δεσμευμένη ποίηση. Την επόμενη εβδομάδα θα μοιραστούμε μαζί σας ακόμη ένα ποίημα!

 

***

 

The volunteers of the Youth Center of Epirus present:

 

“The Poem of the Week”, a  weekly initiative that aims to share poems related to the themes of Migration & Refugees. This initiative was born from the understanding that is vital to show that there are non-formal ways to learn about social topics and that Literature is a beautiful way to do it. 

Every week we will select a poem about Migration & Refugees and share it on our Facebook/Instagram page and website. The poem will be accompanied by an analysis of its meaning and a brief description of the author and its work. This week’s poem is entitled “They Took Your Home From You Now They Call Your Refugee”, by the English-Indian poet and writer Nikita Gill. 

 

THEY TOOK YOUR HOME FROM YOU NOW THEY CALL YOU REFUGEE, by Nikita Gill

 

Home is a language 

you grew in your mouth

that now no longer exists anywhere

but inside your heart and head

 

Home is where

you had to teach your children

how to run from men who are dressed 

in war and blood

 

Home is now a legend

a story of where you grew up,

happy and safe before

they set your entire world aflame.

 

Home is where you ran to the sea

because the place you once belonged to,

now no longer remembers your name.

 

Home was your refuge.

Now, after cruelly taking it from you,

they call you a refugee.

 

 

Poem Analysis

 

We believe Gill’s poem is engaging and emotional. She describes how the concept of “home” inevitably changes for someone who is now a refugee. Contrary to the poem of last week,  “First-generation immigrant”, by Rupi Kaur, this week’s poem explores more the process of losing home, all the different steps that someone has to be through until they become a refugee: the war, the need to “run to the sea” to escape conflict, the unavoidable forgetfulness from home and being labelled as “refugee” by the world.

Most importantly, she emphasises that becoming a refugee is not a choice. No one wants to abandon their home and move to another country, unless they are trying to save their lives. 

 

About the Author

 

Gill is one of the most successful “Instapoets” nowadays (“Instapoetry” is a style of poetry that emerged as a result of social media), having published just over 360 posts. Her writing career started early: she had her first piece published in a local newspaper in India when she was only 12 years old. She gets inspiration from larger forces like the universe, stars and far-away galaxies and usually writes about love, anxiety, loneliness, heartbreak, migration and displacement.

If you are interested in getting to know more about her, she has many books published:  “Wild Embers: Poems of rebellion, fire and beauty” (2017), “Your Soul is a River” (2018), “Fierce Fairytales: & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul” (2018), “Your Heart Is The Sea” (2019),

 “Great Goddesses: Life lessons from myths and monsters” (2019), “The Girl and the Goddess” (2020) and “Where Hope Comes From: Healing poetry for the heart, mind and soul” (2021).

 

We invite you to keep checking our Facebook/Instagram page and website for more videos about socially engaged literature. Next week we will share with you another poem!

 


My Meeting with the Asylum Seekers, an essay by Santiago Petit

16/2/2021

I am a French volunteer, from Europe Solidarity Corp. I come from Martinique, an island in the Caribbean, and I am here, in Greece, for two months. I had a peaceful childhood, my family takes care of me, but I always thought my life wasn't the best. Not having known my father has often made me think, leaving an emptiness in my heart that could never be filled. I accepted this volunteer mission because I want to gather work experiences, but mostly because I like to give love to others, I like to know that my loved ones feel good, maybe because I know, or at least I thought I knew, how it’s feel to suffering. I was aware of the history of the majority of the teenagers, whom are under aged asylums seekers, I was going to care for. I assumed that some of them knew the war, or wanted to run away of their countries, for diverse reasons. However, I didn't really realize what it really implies.

 

My first meeting with the teenagers, at the facility, was warm, and I remember 2 faces who particularly touched me. When I saw the place -a pretty big house which is their home and their classroom- I thought about some activities I could do with them, activities based on non-formal education. I sympathized, at least from my point of view, with those I met quite quickly. Some of them knew some sentences in French, in Greek, and even in Spanish, so it was kind of funny to talk with the boys. I also told them that I will teach some karate class, sport I used to do at a high level; we did some small fights in the rules of the art, and I was glad to see some of them happy to do it. I also saw a big feeling of fraternity between each other, and it was really pleasant to see.

 

 But it was at the end of the day, when I remembered what had happened, that something struck me. Most of them are from my generation. And most of them come from countries like Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan. It is the kind of countries that our medias are talking about only when there is a war, a civil war, or a terrorist attack. Even if it is typically occidental to associate these countries to serious, hurtful event, it is a fact that living in these countries is painful.  We had barely a few years apart, and yet we had a history and a journey that was opposite to the extreme. Imagine being separated from your family, simply because the "rulers" of their countries have a baby-like fight. Imagine leaving your friends, your country because of incapable people. Imagine losing your bearings, your culture, abandoning your home, because of people who only want to become rich. I would have gone crazy. We all would have gone crazy. We would have all sought to revenge, even if it meant lowering ourselves to the level of those "rulers".

 

And if they don’t run away from the war, they are leaving their own homeland because of the insane poverty over there. I don’t see why it is a crime. They are driven by the survival instinct. If it is a crime to want to live in a better condition and have a job, why do you go to work every day?

However, despite their story, I see them smiling. I see them, despite the absolute horror of what they've been through, managing to move forward, thinking about their future, and doing everything possible to lead a peaceful life. I see them, with dreams, with wishes in their heads to fulfill.

 

I felt ashamed of myself. From my little comfort, I managed to complain because I didn't get the brand-new sweater from a brand that exploits the Uyghurs1. I was able to complain because I didn't have a new watch that cost a French minimum wage. I was able to complain because I had the nerve to feel lonely sometimes. I guess for anyone who hasn't met these kids, or witnessed their story, this kind of nonsense must be normal.

 

Our parents, to make us take a step-back when we throw a tantrum, often said to us "Think of the little Syrian children who have nothing" which, afterwards, is a little disgusting and slightly racist. However, now, I guess I will avoid these non-vital things, and thank Allah, God, Jesus Christ, Buddha, the Universe for sparing me a tragedy such as some of the children have experienced, and facilitate them, from the absolute bottom of my heart, for their future, and for each of them, to fulfill their dreams.

 

 

 

1 https://youtu.be/tR11b7uh17Y In this video is described the mass genocide operated by the Chinese government against the Uyghurs.


"First-Generation Immigrant" by Rupi Kaur / Socially engaged literature: "The Poem of the Week" by Beatriz Ribeiro da Silva

3/2/2021

 

«The Poem of the Week» είναι μία πρωτοβουλία που έχει ως στόχο να μοιραστεί μαζί σας ποιήματα που σχετίζονται με θέματα όπως το Μεταναστευτικό και το Προσφυγικό. Αυτήν την εβδομάδα παρουσιάζουμε το ποίημα “First-Generation immigrant”, από την γεννημένη στην Ινδία Καναδή ποιήτρια, συγγραφέα και εικονογράφο Rupi Kaur. Αυτό το ποίημα είναι μέρος του πρώτου βιβλίου της, “Milk and Honey” (2014), που πούλησε πάνω από 3 εκατομμύρια αντίτυπα παγκοσμίως.

 

Πιστεύουμε ότι η απλότητα του ποιήματος καταφέρνει να δείξει τις δυσκολίες του να είσαι μετανάστης πρώτης γενιάς. Η Rupi περιγράφει μια κατάσταση που συμβαίνει σε πολλούς ανθρώπους, συμπεριλαμβανομένης και της ίδιας: γεννήθηκε στο Punjab  και μετανάστευσε στον Καναδά όταν ήταν τριών ετών, έγινε, όπως εκφράζεται στο ποίημά της, «μια γέφυρα μεταξύ δύο χωρών».

 

“First-generation immigrant”, by Rupi Kaur

they have no idea what it is like

to lose home at the risk of

never finding home again

have your entire life

split between two lands and

become the bridge between two countries

 

Music by JuliusH from Pixabay

 

 

Σας προσκαλούμε να συνεχίσετε να τσεκάρετε τη σελίδα μας στο Facebook / Instagram για περισσότερα βίντεο σχετικά με την κοινωνικά δεσμευμένη ποίηση. Την επόμενη εβδομάδα θα μοιραστούμε μαζί σας ακόμη ένα ποίημα!

 

***

The volunteers of the Youth Center of Epirus present:

 

“The Poem of the Week”, a  weekly initiative that aims to share poems related to the themes of Migration & Refugees. This initiative was born from the understanding that is vital to show that there are non-formal ways to learn about social topics and that Literature is a beautiful way to do it. Every week we will select a poem about Migration & Refugees and share it on our Facebook/Instagram page and website. The poem will be accompanied by an analysis of its meaning and a brief description of the author and its work. This week’s poem is entitled “First-Generation immigrant”, by the Indian-born Canadian poet, author and illustrator Rupi Kaur.

 

FIRST-GENERATION IMMIGRANT, by Rupi Kaur

 

they have no idea what it is like

to lose home at the risk of

never finding home again

have your entire life

split between two lands and

become the bridge between two countries

 

Music: https://www.bensound.com

 

Poem Analysis

 

Rupi’s poem is short, but heartwarming. With only 6 lines she is able to make us reflect about what it means to be a first-generation immigrant, specifically the difficulties that many people don’t even dream about. Rupi describes a situation that happens to many people, including herself: she was born in Punjab and immigrated to Canada when she was three years old, becoming, as expressed in her poem, “a bridge between two countries”. 

She really establishes a difference between “they” (the people that never had to face the heartbreaking experience of leaving home) and people like her, that after losing home still have to deal with the feeling of having two nationalities/cultural backgrounds.

 

About the Author

 

Rupi Kaur is one of the most famous poets nowadays. She has three books published: “Milk and Honey” (published in 2015, when she was a 21-year-old university student), “The sun and her flowers” (2017) and “Home Body” (2020). She rose to fame on Instagram and Tumblr by publishing her visual poetry and is often viewed as being at the forefront of Instapoetry. Her work touches on love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, and migration. 

 

We invite you to keep checking our Facebook/Instagram page and website for more videos about socially engaged literature. Next week we will share with you another poem!


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