Lesvos Solidarity, a Greek non-governmental organization that supports refugees and locals in Lesvos, ran ten workshops in order to educate and help people deal with the refugee crisis.

As part of the regranting process within the framework of Faces of Migration, Lesvos Solidarity, which has great experience in supporting asylum-seekers and locals in the island of Lesvos since 2012 and offers psychosocial support as well as integration and vocational training for both the locals and the refugees, setup the project “Overcoming Barriers”.
During the challenging situation of Lesvos on-going crisis, this project’s goal was to bring together different actors and strengthen the international work by building bridges via education and interaction. Training and exchanging opportunities is the key for overcoming the crisis on the island, for promoting integration by developing skills and knowledge as well as equal opportunities to participate in the local society. Integration can only happen when a bigger part of the society is aware of the cultural differences and challenges of coexistence and sustainable solutions can only be created through long term interventions in the field and strong networks of people.

The workshops were part of the program “Overcoming Barriers” supported by Action Aid, they were held from January to June 2021 and were attended by over 200 people from different parts of the country. The topics were designed for people working on the field, but also individuals who were interested in getting tools for their daily interaction with the population. Their goal was to help the participants understand demanding situations and be able to provide life skills and information on topics that are not often available or accessible.

Some of the topics were: dealing with the challenge of working with refugees on a daily basis in adverse conditions, the dimension of sexual orientation and gender identity in the refugee population, dealing with the challenges of everyday work with minors unaccompanied and not, psychological First Aid and others. The workshops and seminars were conducted by facilitators from Babel Day Centre in Athens, which provides psychological services to immigrants (individuals, families, children, youth, and groups), Giorgo Tsitsirigo, a certified trainer from International Centre for Nonviolent Communication (CNVN), and Marina Galanou, ex – president of Greek Transgendered Support Association.

All the participants had the opportunity to talk and engage with people from different disciplines and backgrounds, while a platform was provided for them in order to share experiences and best practices. What’s more, they were given the tools and how to, in order to better communicate with refugee populations and peers on a daily basis.

The workshops were a real success and after their completion some participants shared their experience!

“It made me think and understand some of the behaviors I have observed in the past and I believe I will respond better and more consciously in the future. It also answered some of the questions I had about my own behavior towards people.”

“These seminars are training sessions for us. Perhaps the most important part is the platform we get to share experiences from our own work environment. It is very helpful to learn from real cases, as examples. Thank you.”

“We met people with different background, to discuss fundamental issues and were given a lot of information from a legal, empirical, personal and emotional point of view.”