Zaatar’s mission is to provide a safe space for refugees to rest, learn, feel empowered and grow. We accomplish this by:
- Providing services for refugees, with a particular focus on women (and their children), unaccompanied minors, refugees who identify as LGBT, and prisoners.
- Educational programming in fundamental subjects such as languages and computer skills
- Activities to enhance health and wellbeing (for example yoga, health and first aid workshops, crafts, dancing)
- Providing vocational training opportunities to help adult refugees gain work and to foster their integration within Greek and westernized societies more generally.
- Tailoring our programmes and services to suit life in Athens
- Offering activities to promote an understanding of Greek heritage and culture
- Providing a welcoming environment in which refugees can relax, socialize, and meet new friends, rebuilding a sense of community that they likely lost when leaving their country of origin.
- Offering shelter to up to 20 women and children in the Orange House, and, where possible, finding housing within homes and apartments for vulnerable refugees without adequate shelter.
- Referrals to other organizations for additional services and opportunities
Our volunteer group includes refugees themselves. We believe in empowerment. Refugees cook, clean, teach and/or attend language and other classes to prepare for their future—either living independently in Greece or preparing for reunification or relocation elsewhere, and building job readiness and other important skills.
Our vision is that integration works both way. It is not only about refugees integrating into European life, but it is also about Europeans changing the way they look at refugees and other cultures.
At the Orange House, we strive to involve local citizens and businesses in our daily operations. Local businesses and individuals that help Zaatar include:
- A hair dresser school coming to provide free haircut
- Local shops donating bread, milk and any unsold food
- Greek musicians volunteering their time to play for refugees
We believe that all of these small gestures can make a difference in changing the way that Greek people perceive refugees.
We care about the environment and try to source donations of second hand or repaired furniture at the Orange House. We offer seminars to all of the residents of the shelter about eco-friendly behaviors. We sort and recycle all garbage and waste produces, and try to reduce our ecological footprint by minimizing the use of meat in our lunch program. This philosophy has also helped us in keeping a low operating budget, making sure that all of the donations sent to Zaatar are spend wisely.
Zaatar in Numbers
- 200 visitors a day to the Orange House
- 25-30 volunteers, half of which are refugees or have a refugee background
- 60 people receive a hot lunch everyday
- Sheltering 20 refugee and their children
- 23 English classes per week offered by teachers who speak the native language of the refugees (Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Urdu, French speakers)
- 50+ cases of LGBT asylum seekers being helped