In Greece, there exist limited organizations that assist refugees to build not just a livelihood, but a self-sufficient livelihood. Za'atar aims to change that narrative by helping our beneficiaries find paying work so that they no longer have to rely on the charitable services Za'atar offers.
This process begins with the CV workshops we provide at the Orange House where both residents and community center attendees can receive assistance in crafting a professional resume. As of January 2020, Za'atar NGO has helped place over 60 refugees in legal jobs across Greece. Many of these jobs are in Greece's thriving tourism industry. We also have vocational training opportunities in fishing, tailoring, cooking, and more to come!
Za’atar NGO has also established a new project, Project Layali, which was developed to further Za’atar’s mission of helping refugees return to self-sufficient lifestyles. The project offers vocational training in marketable skills that will allow refugees to obtain employment, both in Greece and abroad.
Through Project Layali, Za’atar seeks to establish a sustainable source of funding for its programs, while providing a service that expands upon pre-existing initiatives. Refugees enrolled in the program will gain new skill sets, valuable work experience, financial self-sufficiency, and the empowerment to take next steps.
The Orange House proactively follows operational practices that are sustainable and ecologically conscious. We care about the environment and source donations of second hand or repaired furniture to meet the needs of the shelter and community center. Seminars are offered to residents of the shelter that discuss eco-friendly behaviors and awareness.
We sort and recycle all garbage and waste products, and try to reduce our ecological footprint by minimizing the use of meat in our lunch program. This philosophy has helped Za’atar maintain a low operating budget, and ensures all donations sent to Za’atar are spent responsibly and with greatest direct positive impact to the beneficiaries.
Recently, the Orange House upgraded it's building through the use of solar panels installed on the roof of our shelter. This change provided three primary benefits. First, it reduced electricity costs. Second, the solar panels reduce our carbon footprint. Finally, the solar panels allow us to provide energy to beneficiaries throughout the day without interruption. We also collect furniture, beauty products (for Layali Salon), and food for our day center from companies in the community.
Our goal at Za'atar NGO is not just to provide assistance to the refugee community but to do so while encouraging integration with the local Greek Community and the broader refugee support community. By sharing our resources with other organizations, we can ensure 100% of available funds are being used for the direct benefit of migrants and refugees.
We support other organizations by donating clothes, organize food distribution, and donate hygiene items and furniture.
We encourage our community center attendees and residents to participate in cultural events throughout Athens and organize weekly trips to events every Sunday. Recently, these trips have included basketballs tournaments, trips to museums and the Acropolis, and a beach clean up event at a popular local beach.
Whenever possible, we look to integrate with Greek businesses and individuals to provide our services. For example, much of the food we receive that is used to cook our daily meal comes from neighborhood bakeries and restaurants.
Many refugees will be in Greece for decades to come and Za'atar considers part of its responsibility to facilitate the necessary two-way process of integration.