The World Bank’s mission especially in Greece is to create and invest in opportunities for employment for refugees. On February 10, our co-founder had the opportunity to meet with the World Bank representatives to talk about the process of opening a social enterprise in Greece! We discussed the social networks of refugees as well as what types of jobs were a good fit for new employees and had a shortage of employees. We are very excited to serve as the only social enterprise set up for refugees in Athens and excited to be recognized by the World Bank in this role!
Za’atar NGO is very proud to announce the launching of its new – and tasty project: Tastes of Damascus!
An eco-friendly Restaurant-Café, employing refugees and migrants as is the case for every activity of the Layali Project non-profit social enterprise. We will soon welcome you all at Fokionos Negri, Kipseli, to delight you with the best flavours of the Middle East. Stay tuned; the doors will be open in the weeks to come!
While discovering new tastes and flavours, be an actor of social integration as well! One of the objectives of the project is to promote self-reliance for refugees and migrants. Refugees who will be employed in the restaurant will have a fixed income, allowing them to rely on a safe, legal, and sustainable way to support themselves and their families. In addition to the Cooking Classes already offered at the Orange House, we are hoping to launch an apprenticeship program within the restaurant which will provide refugees and migrants with valuable entry-level experience.
Since we believe intercultural exchange is precious for society, we aim at promoting it in our actions for a better mutual understanding. In addition to attending Greek language classes at the Orange House, refugees will be able to practice and improve their conversational skills on a day-to-day basis while dealing with customers. In return, they will have the opportunity to introduce a side of their own culture as well by sharing their traditional dishes with the community they live in.
In the long-term, we wish to organize cultural events such as live music or photography exhibitions that will introduce and display the rich culture of countries such as Syria and Iran to locals who are eager to learn more about refugees and their backgrounds.
We hope to see you soon at Tastes of Damascus!
Stay updated on all our projects and adventures by following us on our social media.
Project Layali : www.projectlayali.org/
We have a new Amazon wishlist to streamline donations! We understand many of you would like to know exactly where your donations are going or would prefer to donate items instead of money – so please use our wishlist to donate items that we absolutely need to keep the Orange House as well as our other projects running smoothly!
In this third year of the Orange House we have been extremely fortunate to partner with Humanity Now. Humanity Now is a direct Refugee Relief funding program that provides funds for sustainable projects benefiting refugees either emergently or with an eye on long term investment opportunities. Our partnership has resulted in a cooking class which meets six hours per week for eight weeks. The class has drawn diverse participation with men and women from all over the world (Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Cameroon just to name a few) learning Greek cooking. The goal is to make students proficient in Greek cooking so that they can enter the restaurant industry either here in Athens or sharing the magic of Greek cuisine around the world! We hope this will help students get jobs using the skills they learned here at the Orange House with the help of Humanity Now. Examples of dishes include Greek mezze, moussaka, dakos, tzatziki, keftedes (a small selection of the wide range of Greek dishes being taught at this course). We are hopeful these skills translate into new jobs and are grateful for Humanity Now’s support (and for the delicious food made here at the Orange House every Saturday)!
Check out our Instagram for some tantalizing photos of the sumptuous dishes and visit Humanity Now’s website at
Za’atar NGO is grateful to the One in an Army initiative for their support. Learn more about their project and campaigns here.
“Welcome to #HomeWithJimin, ARMY! As you voted to give love to a shelter for our sweet Jiminie’s birthday, we are proud to support Za’atar NGO, an organization that operates the Orange House, a shelter for refugees located in Athens, Greece.
Refugees are people who have had to flee their countries due to war or great personal danger due to social or political injustice. The Orange House provides a place of shelter, with a particular focus on refugees who are women and children, as well as unaccompanied minors, people who identify as LGBT, and those who have been imprisoned.
Our Jimin’s gentle heart, giving nature, and beautiful voice can make any place a home for us, and we are proud to pay forward to others what he gives freely by helping them find a safe place to regain health, get training, and feel welcome while they start to make their home in a new land. Please support Za’atar NGO in honor of our Home, Jimin!”
Support us through Paypal : https://zaatarngo.org/donations/
Please write BTS Army in the notes !
Or through a bank transfer with the IBAN :
* Celebrate #1YearWithOIAA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoXhegRDA8c
* AnpanARMY on Donors Choose: https://www.donorschoose.org/oneinanarmy
* OIAA on beta.freerice.com : Group: BTS ARMY Code: HH7RY6NH
Thank you One in an Army !
Thanks to all our funders for their support.
During the month that felt like a lifetime, this June 2019, I volunteered for Za’atar NGO. From folding children’s clothing, organizing folders, 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 2 – When the Orange House becomes Home.
In addition to my weekly shifts at the Orange House, and occasional support to Pampiraiki at the warehouse, I was lucky to get the opportunity to give a few English classes, during the second part of my Athenian adventure. About twenty classes are offered every week at the Orange House. Focusing on language classes (English and Greek, are the main ones) students can attend a great variety of classes and activities. They are encouraged to come to the English conversation sessions to practice speaking, or even learn to write and improve their C.V during dedicated workshops. Moreover, they can follow a computer skills class given thanks to a collaboration with the Social Hackers Academy, join the second running installation of the Cooking Class job training, and even learn some very nice hip moves by taking the Irani and Arabic dance class.
Offering the most varied and qualitative classes/activities, the Orange House is a principal factor inscribed in Za’atar NGO’s philosophy of empowerment of students as well as volunteers. Za’atar’s mission is not about providing refugees basic goods and services to survive; it is to give them the keys to build a sustainable way of living their own lives. Asking for volunteers to be dynamic and proactive, Za’atar encourages them to share their knowledge and talents. This is how a gardening-lover once happened to cover the Orange House with flowers; a yoga instructor to offer personalized yoga sessions; or a dance student to teach basic moves and choreography to beneficiaries. This is how I ended up giving an unplanned one-hour guitar class to two farsi-speaking siblings, trying to bond without any other language than smiles, thumbs up, and high-fives.
In one month at the Orange House, I did not learn that much about the war in Syria, life under bombings, survival methods in camps, or the dangers of crossing borders. I did not talk nor hear much about exile, loss, nor death. I did learn, however, how to cook foufou the Guinean way; even play a Hindi hit song on the guitar or dance some Irani steps. I did hear, however, about the Senegalese wrestling, Oriental threading, and the best spots to trek at dawn in Turkey. I did learn, however, about the freedom of sailing, and the feeling of the wind on one’s skin when climbing.
In one month at the Orange House, I did not meet those refugees I had been told about for years. I did not meet victims – we would rather say survivors. I did meet, however, a mechanical engineer, a literature teacher, a medical student, a police officer – and even a race car driver! I did meet, however, a great number of soccer players, happy eaters, funny pranksters… From my one-month volunteering with Za’atar, I do not recall neither drama nor tears. I do recall, however, our dances and laughters.
To learn more about Za’atar, and their various amazing initiatives please visit their website and Instagram!
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!
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!
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!