Tastes of Damascus, model of diversity in the workplace

Hasan Hmeydan and Marina Liakis, founders of Tastes of Damascus, eco-friendly social restaurant employing refugees to promote inclusion and empowerment, were kindly invited to share their experience in the framework of the Diversity in the workplace program of the Generation 2.0 RED organization.

After a rich moment of experience-sharing and discussion on the Greek restaurant industry and practical advice to be a great employee – attitude at work, CV presentation, knowledge in Greek, to better navigate the labor market and improve one’s chances to be hired, Hasan and Marina took their team of guests to the restaurant, located in Kipseli. There, they had the opportunity to meet and exchange with Tastes of Damascus’employees and manager, and even to taste Sofia’s delicious traditional falafel and ayran – a sweet note to end an instructive and exciting day for everyone.

We would like to thank Generation 2.0 RED for this invitation and their trust. Read more on their organization on their website and on Hasan and Marina’s intervention here.

Stay updated on all our adventures by following us on our social media.

Za’atar NGO 

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Project Layali 

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June Volunteers.

Our registry of volunteers for the month of June 2020.

Thinking and Creating change : Za’atar NGO is part of the Network for Dialogue

On October 20-21st, 2019, the first European Policy Dialogue Forum on Refugees and Migrants was held in Athens. Gathering a great diversity of actors – policy makers, religious leaders, academics and civil society members , it was organized by the Network for Dialogue and The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), an intergovernmental organization working to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue and actions.

As part of this network, Za’atar NGO took part in the conversation. Our co-founder and director, Marina Liakis, was invited to share her experience and knowledge. This first forum, whose theme was “Understanding current challenges of refugees and migrants in Europe: What can we do?” aimed at making new propositions emerge and widen horizons on the social inclusion of refugees and migrants, through discussion and experience-sharing.

Dedicated to the protection, support, social inclusion and empowerment of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, Za’atar NGO is determined to advocate for and with them so that both policies and minds evolve for the better.

Why “International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia” is important to us

Every 17th of May, the “International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia” is observed in a great number of countries worldwide. On this occasion, Za’atar NGO would like to recall the importance of the specific attention to and protection of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer) asylum seekers and refugees.

Many LGBTQ+ asylum seekers are often seriously threatened and actively persecuted in their home countries, and they 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 just one reason why they require specific aid, which very few organizations acknowledge and/or offer.

Since 2016, ATLAS (Aid To LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers) initiative has been offering 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 enable members of the community to meet and exchange with one another.

In those particular and challenging times of pandemic and movement restrictions, LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers are even more vulnerable. Locked in the camps, they have no more access to the dedicated “Safe Spaces” where they used to spend a moment or the whole day to get some rest and/or relief. The number of calls and messages from isolated refugees and asylum seekers to ATLAS has seen a significant increase in the past two months. ATLAS remains active on WhatsApp and Facebook. 

Za’atar NGO, acting for  the protection, support and empowerment of all refugees and asylum seekers, is aware of the particularly difficult situations faced by the most vulnerable populations– unaccompanied minors, single women and LGBTQ+ refugees – and determined to stand for and with them. 

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/

Closing the Book on Layali Shop’s Adventure: Looking Back on a Rich and Fulfilling Experience

One and a half years after our little shop opened its doors in the centre of Athens, the adventure of the Layali Shop has now come to an end. 

We are extremely grateful for the opportunity we were given by the city of Athens to use the local for free. We are very proud to have built and led this project to the furthest we could. Layali Shop, part of the greater Layali Project (our non-for-profit social enterprise), has provided valuable support for refugees and asylum seekers to sell their creations, improve their linguistic and artistic skills, find a space to invent, create, and feel empowered. 

Layali Salon, our eco-friendly hair salon, remains open by appointment. (Call +30 694 974 0754)

Thank you for supporting us in all our projects! 

Stay updated on all our adventures by following us on our social media.

Za’atar NGO 

Instagram : instagram.com/zaatarproject/

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/zaatarngo

Project Layali 

www.projectlayali.org/

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/projectlayali/

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/projectlayali/


Welcome back to Damascus!

Tastes of Damascus, our eco-friendly Restaurant-Café, employing refugees and migrants, has finally reopened its doors !

We are very happy to finally be able to welcome you back in Kipseli, to offer you a tasty journey while respecting the current sanitary measures and social distancing rules. Outside tables are now one meter and a half from each other, and we are lucky to be supported by the city of Athens, that allows us to settle on a larger space to ensure the safety of all. All our staff members are provided with masks and gloves and hand sanitizer is available as well.

We are looking forward to seeing you again !

Visit our website to get all the information on Tastes of Damascus: https://tastes-of-damascus.business.site/.


COVID-19 Update : Za’atar NGO remains mobilized

More than two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and while restrictions are slowly being lifted up, Za’atar NGO and team remain mobilized to accompany, support and empower refugees and asylum seekers. Here is the last update on our activities.

The shelter has not closed its doors. Food distributions are regularly organized to support the residents who cannot go back to work yet. Za’atar team continues to reply and accompany refugees via Facebook and WhatsApp. For the last two months, we have been observing an increase in messages from beneficiaries. The lockdown measures have indeed made impossible for them to come to class, to the day-centre or to see their psychologist – a situation which has increased their isolation.

In those particular and challenging times, LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers are even more vulnerable. Locked in the camps, they have no more access to the dedicated “Safe spaces” where they used to spend a moment or the whole day to get some rest or relief. Some LGBTQ+ refugees from the camp of Samos notably reached out to ATLAS, the Aid To LGBTQ Asylum Seekers program on Facebook and WhatsApp, which remains active as well.

Greek and English classes are still offered online via Zoom, whose weekly schedule can be found on our Facebook page every Monday. They are to be continued until further notice and even after the reopening of classes for safety reasons.  

We are now hoping to reopen our legal and psychological support services as soon as possible.  

All throughout this period, you can still contact us through WhatsApp at the following number: +30 694 067 1666.

Stay home and take care.

The Za’atar NGO Team

A little piece of Damascus in the heart of Athens

Summer is at the corner and life is slowly coming back in the streets of Athens. Time will soon come to take a seat at a café and enjoy a nice meal under the sun. Tastes of Damascus, located at Negri Fokionos 19, Athina, will be waiting for you! 

Visit our brand new website here: https://tastes-of-damascus.business.site/.

Tastes of Damascus is an eco-friendly Restaurant-Café, employing refugees and migrants as for every activity of the Layali Project non-profit social enterprise.  First opened on February 17, its success and activity have enabled us to hire two refugees of Syrian origins so far. We will be reopening as soon as the sanitary measures allow us to, in order to continue training more and more refugees. 

We select the candidates depending on their motivation and will, during individual interviews, and require them to have at least a basic knowledge of Greek language and some cooking skills. We then accompany them through administrative procedures to get their identity documents or residence permits, open a bank account or have a medical examination. 

One of our two current employees has followed English, Greek and Cooking lessons at the Orange House. New sessions of cooking training, which are given in Greek, will soon be offered at the Orange House, to benefit the greater number of refugees. 

More exciting projects regarding the restaurant are to come! Stay tuned! 

In the meantime, do not hesitate to visit our website to get all the information on Tastes of Damascus: https://tastes-of-damascus.business.site/.

We hope to see you soon! 

Stay updated on all our projects and adventures by following us on our social media.

Za’atar NGO 

Instagram : instagram.com/zaatarproject/

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/zaatarngo

Project Layali : www.projectlayali.org/

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/projectlayali/

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/projectlayali/


The Orange House’s classes do not stop!

In this particular context we have been living for a while now, restricting our contacts and movements, the Orange House has not stopped its activities.

The Orange House team has adapted its organization to insure the smooth running of some of its classes online. Using Zoom services, seven language classes have been launched – three groups in English, four groups in Greek. After a successful test week to define and fit the student’s needs and constraints, we are now hoping to recruit more English teachers to benefit the greatest number.

The Orange House team is looking forward to opening its doors again!

Stay home and take care.

Stay updated on all our projects and adventures by following us on our social media.

Za’atar NGO 

  • Instagram : instagram.com/zaatarproject/
  • Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/zaatarngo

COVID-19 Update at the Orange House

One month  after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece, here is a brief update on the situation for the Orange House residents and Za’atar NGO team.

Two people have been infected so far, one member of our team and one resident, who has fortunately recovered and come home healthy and grateful after two weeks spent at the hospital. 

We would like to take this opportunity to deeply thank our Greek doctors and nursing staff who have taken such great care of her with no discrimination, only kindness and empathy in spite of the fact she is not a Greek speaker. She is now resting at the Orange House. 

Cleaning products have been provided to the residents, with whom we make sure to daily recall the protective procedures and guidelines to apply; as well as exchange on their well-being and mental health. 

The municipal services intervened for free two days after being called to the Orange House to disinfect the whole space. We thank them very much for their sympathy and reactivity in these times of hardships and uncertainty. We are grateful for their dedication to protect all of their citizens. 

Due to the current regulations, the day centre is closed for now. However, we remain reachable through WhatsApp at the following number: +30 694 067 1666.

Stay home and take care.

The Orange House Team