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Speaking Up To Move Forward.

In order to better advocate for and empower the refugees and migrants welcomed at the Orange House, Za’atar’s leadership regularly takes part in both national and international conferences and meetings. From interfaith and intercultural initiatives, to a sexual and gender-based violence panel, Za’atar’s director Marina Liakis has been both a speaker at, and an attendee of conferences and workshops focusing on issues surrounding the inclusion of migrants and refugees in Europe.

Thus far, Za’atar has been included in three of the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID)’s Network for Dialogue workshops; focusing on network planning in order to learn how to pursue their mission in the most empowering, productive, economic, and eco-friendly ways. The KAICIID, founded in 2012, is a “partner for UN agencies, national governments and internationally active religious and interreligious organizations”. In this framework, Ms. Liakis has spoken at roundtables alongside representatives of faith-based and secular organizations about how to advocate for the rights and well-being of migrants and those seeking refuge. Some of the questions dealt with included: “How do young migrants’ and refugees’ understanding of the “Other” change based on where they are?” “How can faith-based approaches help or hinder inclusion?”

In June 2018, Za’atar was present in Lyon, France to partake in conferences organized for the Journée D’étude Internationale; addressing Transnational Mobility and Religious Realities through a roundtable entitled “Forced Migration, Social Inclusion, and Humanitarian Actions in Context”.

Earlier in March 2018, Ms. Liakis represented Za’atar in an expert panel concerning Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the context of forced migration, held by The Unmentionables in collaboration with the Harvard Policy Leadership Group at the Wyndham Grand Athens. Addressing a topical issue in the specific, and too often forgotten situation of displaced communities, the discussion aimed at crossing perspectives, deepening the understanding to eventually propose concrete policy recommendations.

Za’atar NGO has an ongoing commitment to participating in international dialogues in order to both educate and learn from other actors in a shared mission: to advocate for the rights and inclusion of refugees and migrants throughout Europe.

For more information about the mentioned conferences, please visit the KAICIID’s website: https://www.kaiciid.org

To learn more about Za’atar NGO, the Orange House, Project Layali, and their various amazing initiatives please visit their websites and Instagram!

zaatarngo.org

instagram.com/zaatarproject/

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How I Became Part of Za’atar’s Family – Aude’s Volunteering Testimony

During the month that felt like a lifetime, this June 2019, I volunteered for Za’atar NGO. From folding children’s clothing, organizing a folder, and even giving a guitar class in sign language; to taking an improvised Irani dance lesson at the Layali Salon, I learnt what volunteering is all about, what activism and social change truly mean. Back in France, where I have not stopped working for Za’atar NGO, and before going back to Athens as soon as possible, I thought I would give you a little insight of what my life had been – or really what it became, there at The Orange House.

My name is Aude Sathoud, I am an eighteen-year-old French-Congolese student in Political and Social Sciences at Sciences Po, and this is a little bit of my story.

Part 1 – Where I Learn That Every Action Matters.

Hosted at the volunteers’ apartment where I lived for four weeks with some eight different roommates, coming from Australia, Mexico, France, and Morocco I quickly understood the importance of the “team spirit” Za’atar promotes, which soon turned into a real family bond.

I spent part of my time at The Orange House, Za’atar’s day center where volunteers work in four-hour-shifts, welcoming students, receiving donations, answering phone calls, informing newcomers, and insuring a positive atmosphere and the smoothest running of the House.

Once or twice a week I was sent to the warehouse run by a partner organization of Za’atar, Pampiraiki, settled in the buildings of the old Athens’ airport and 2004 Olympic stadiums. Requisitioned in emergency at the peak of the migrant arrivals to the Piraeus port, this vast empty space hosted thousands of people for a period, before being transformed into a sorting center for the donations flowing from around the world into Greece and all of Europe.

Clothing, shoes, games, blankets, food, and more; I spent hours there, packing and ordering. While this may not be Za’atar’s first mission, it is a crucial aspect to them to provide their support and take part in every step of the process in order to build a global solution to the migrants’ and refugees’ situations.  Sharing this belief, I did not hesitate for an instant when I was offered to take part in a beach clean-up of one of Athens’ most crowded and consequently polluted beaches, Edem.

According to the United Nations, the world will count 250 million climatic refugees in 2050. Dedicated to refugees’ empowerment, Za’atar NGO considers social action in its widest meaning, and therefore makes sure that all of its’ initiatives act in favour of the protection of the ecosystems and sustainable development. That is why they offer vegan meals at The Orange House daily, buy raw materials from local producers, use vegan/cruelty-free brands at Layali Salon, and sell clothes at the Layali Shop which are often made from recycling the many donations received by the organization.

Stay tuned for the next peak into my volunteering experience with Za’atar NGO! To  learn more about them, and their various amazing initiatives please visit their websites and Instagram!

zaatarngo.org

instagram.com/zaatarproject/

http://www.projectlayali.org/

Sunday Fun Day – Just Another Day of Fun!

It is 11:30am on a peaceful Sunday of Spring as an enthusiastic group waits in front of the Orange House for another Sunday Fun Day adventure. Since there are usually no classes to attend on the weekend, beneficiaries are invited to take part in free Sunday activities. From children to elders, everyone is welcome! 

Movie projections at the Orange House, discovery walk of Athens’ numerous and gorgeous parks, free visits to various museums, with every Sunday comes its new activity, organized by our volunteers. 

The idea of the Sunday Fun Day first came to Za’atar’s founders when they noticed the negative vision refugees and foreign newcomers living in the camps have developed about Athens; and therefore, about Greece. Willing to introduce them to the richness of the culture and history of a country they rarely consider settling in, they quickly realized the deeper impact the initiative had on our beneficiaries.

 Too often confined in the poorest neighbourhoods and neglected fringes of the Athens, refugees end up feeling condemned to such an environment and in turn this can make refugees feel “unworthy” to aspire to a better quality of life. Getting the chance to learn about Athens’ past and Greek civilization, going to visit a Van Gogh exhibit, or even taking part in the celebration of the Orthodox Pesach, are all ways to ease their social integration and break their own mental barriers and self-censorship regarding art and culture – that is true empowerment!

Find out more about Za’atar NGO and our other initiatives by visiting our website and Instagram!

zaatarngo.org

https://www.instagram.com/zaatarproject/

Pride 2019 – The Orange House for the Rainbow Day

Rainbow flags brightly painted on their cheeks, and their skin sparkling, Za’atar’s volunteers were present all day long at our booth in Syntagma Square this Saturday June 8th for Athens Pride. 

Za’atar is always aware of the particularly hard situations faced by the most vulnerable populations– unaccompanied minors, vulnerable minors, single women and LGBTQ+ refugees. The ATLAS initiative Za’atar presents and promotes every year at Pride specifically targets the LGBTQ+ refugee and migrant populations in Athens. 

LGBTQ+ asylum seekers are often seriously threatened and actively persecuted in their home countries, and refugees unfortunately do not find more safety or peace once they have crossed  European borders. They indeed are very likely to experience the same violence from their home community in camps. That is why they require specific aid, that very few organizations acknowledge and/or offer.

Since 2016 ATLAS or “Aid To LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers” Initiative offers a safe and friendly support group for LGBTQ+ refugees, their family, and friends. In coordination with ATLAS, Za’atar built a program designed to ease the transition into European life for these individuals. It provides a variety of services such as:

  • Operating a Helpline for LGBTQ+ refugees worldwide in Farsi, Arabic, French and English
  • Providing a safe space at The Orange House for people of all sexual orientations and genders
  • Teaching the broader refugee community about LGBTQ+ rights
  • Ensuring all volunteers are LGBTQ+ friendly
  • Organizing LGBTQ+ social events to assist members of the community in meeting one another.

Being present at Pride every year enables Za’atar to raise awareness, meet with other organizations working for a more intersectional and real inclusion, and show support and dedication in times where no human right is ever granted.  

Contact us by searching ‘ATLAS (Aid To LGBTQ Asylum Seekers) on Facebook or http://www.facebook.com/groups/atlas LGBTQ/, calling +30 694 067 1666 or emailing contact@zaatarngo.org.

Find out more about Za’atar NGO and our other initiatives by visiting our website and Instagram!

zaatarngo.org

https://www.instagram.com/zaatarproject/

Technopolis 2019: Project Layali was there!

As part of the Meet Market – Athens’ nomadic and innovative market place offering local products, fresh ideas and sunny vibes it recently joined, Project Layali attended the 19th edition of Athens’ famous Technopolis Jazz Festival from the 27th May to 2nd of June. 

Founded in February 2018, Project Layali assists refugees in building self-sustaining lifestyles by providing income-generating opportunities.  Instead of relying on charitable donations to create social impact, Layali focuses on projects operated as self-sufficient businesses. Our locations aim to increase positive interactions between refugees, locals, and tourists in Athens.

Project Layali’s stand welcomed all the curious and jazz lovers, presenting them a large panel of items created and conceived by the refugees themselves. From tote bags to pillows, jewellery to carpets – that can even be personalized after a photograph! Everyone can find their missing treasure at Layali’s shop.

Find out more about Project Layali and our other initiatives by visiting our website and Instagram!

Chamber of Beautiful Business, Athens

Last weekend our director, Marina Liakis, was invited to speak at the Chamber of Beautiful Business, Athens. “Designed to resemble a modern salon litteraire, the Chamber of Beautiful Business, Athens is a place for people with business brains and artistic hearts to share our ideas and exchange our experiences around integration.” Marina gave a moving speech about the importance of purposeful integration of refugee populations into the European communities.  Using Project Layali and the Orange House as examples of how programs that reinforce hard work, dedication, and flexibility will in turn teach our beneficiaries to be self sufficient in their everyday lives. Za’atar is able to showcase how when refugees are given the tools and skills to be independent and successful,  even individuals coming to Europe with nothing can learn to thrive in Athens.  At Za’atar we believe that ingeration must always go both ways, and as Athens continues to change and welcome refugee populations from Africa and the Middle East, Greeks too must learn to incorporate the traditions and cultures of their new found neighbors into their own.

https://houseofbeautifulbusiness.com/chamber-athens

Job Skill Training Courses: Tailoring Class

Looking for a new bag, a fluffy pillow or even a carpet with your lover’s portrait? Layali Project’s shop and creators, following a two-month tailoring class, are waiting for you!

Za’atar NGO is proud to provide job skill training courses at the Orange House founded by Humanity Now: Direct Refugee Relief. These courses allow us to provide our refugee beneficiaries with core skills needed to receive in demand jobs in Athens. We focus on providing both language and job skill courses to make sure our students get a well-rounded education, and learn the skills that are actually necessary in their chosen trade.  The Orange House also provides CV Workshops, Interview Prep, and many more classes that both women and men can take advantage of for FREE! 

It is now offering training classes in Tailoring. Becoming a tailor is a lucrative job in Athens, where the industry is still strong and offering a great number of employment opportunities. With training and refined skills, our beneficiaries are able to become independent and self-sufficient by getting a job.

From pants and bags to pillow cases, small alterations to complete creations, students develop and improve their tailoring skills and are quickly able to sell their products at Layali Shop for profit.

Dedicated to refugees’empowerment, Za’atar NGO considers social action in its widest meaning and therefore makes sure its initiatives act in favour of the protection of the environment and sustainable development. That is why most of the items produced by the students are based on clothes recycling from the many donations received by the organization.

Come check our products or say hi at our shops and find out more about Project Layali, Zaatar NGO and our other initiatives by visiting our websites and Instagram!

Job Skill Training Courses: Cooking Class

Hmm… Can you feel that delicious smell? Hurry up, food lover, the cooking class is starting! 

Za’atar NGO is proud to provide job skill training courses at the Orange House founded by Humanity Now: Direct Refugee Relief. These courses allow us to provide our refugee beneficiaries with core skills needed to receive in demand jobs in Athens. We focus on providing both language and job skill courses to make sure our students get a well-rounded education, and learn the skills that are actually necessary in their chosen trade.  The Orange House also provides CV Workshops, Interview Prep, and many more classes that both women and men can take advantage of for FREE! 

Za’atar NGO could not have chosen a better name. It is now offering training classes in Cooking. Becoming a chef is a lucrative job in Athens, with training and refined skills our beneficiaries are able to become independent and self-sufficient by getting a job. That is why the class is fully taught in Greek by a Syrian woman who has been living on the island for many years and has worked for two restaurants there. Students can therefore improve both their general and cooking-specific vocabulary and integrate Greek restaurants the quickest. The course aims at giving them the secrets of Greek delights – moussaka, dolmades, souvlaki and more!

Cooking class

Students cook for themselves and grade each other’s plates at the end of the training, sharing advice and tips. The class enables those chefs-to-be, from all walks and sizes, to meet and interact, exchange and create, around a universal passion that knows no border – food.

Find out more about Za’atar NGO and our other initiatives by visiting our website and Instagram!

Layali Shop

Layali Shop is located at Voulis 8, just two blocks away from Syntagma Square, the busiest modern city center of Athens. 

Layali Shop offers unique handmade goods, such as:

  • Necklaces
  • Earrings
  • Purses
  • And much more

All of the makers whose products are sold at Layali Shop were hand selected to produce high quality and environmentally sustainable goods.  Each of our makers are refugees from various countries throughout the Middle East and Africa.  All profits from sales go directly back to these makers; in this we are providing training and jobs where individuals can to learn to use their talents and thrive with independence. 

Stop by Layali Shop to get unique handmade goods and gifts, and support Project Layali: a social enterprise working to create a sustainable future for the refugee population in Athens.

Now you can also discrover all the products on our new eshop!

Layali Salon: Our Eco-Friendly Initiative

Layali Salon is the first salon in Athens that was built on the principles of using all natural, eco-friendly, and cruelty-free products.  It is has always been important to us that our products and services have a small footprint on the environment.

Layali Salon

We feature all-natural Greek skincare and beauty brands; whenever possible we try to incorporate local and hand selected products.

Take a look at some of the great natural ingredients used for our in house hand mixed masks, scrubs, and conditioners :

  • Avocado Oil
  • Argan Oil
  • Greek Olive Oil
  • Cinnamon
  • Camomille
  • Henna
  • White Clay
  • And More

Not only does Layali Salon solely focus on training and employing the struggling refugee population, but we strive to make all services through Project Layali and Za’atar NGO as eco-friendly as possible. From our use of upcycled furniture, classes and activities to teach our beneficiaries about living sustainably, and the daily free vegan lunch, to the hair and skin products we feature; Project Layali and Za’atar NGO are committed to an all-around environmentally friendly approach to helping solve the refugee crisis in Athens.