Category Archives for Unclassified

March Volunteers

Our registry of volunteers for the month of March 2021.

Prisoners of lockdown – The double seclusion of refugee and asylum-seeking people

If the pandemic outbreak and consequent lockdown measures have impacted us all, changing our habits, challenging our balance and narrowing our horizons, the most vulnerable of us – among which refugee and asylum-seeker populations, have had to struggle with specific issues.

While we all share a common fear of getting infected by the virus, we are not equal facing it, and some of us, due to their conditions of life or fragile health, are at a greater risk to both catch the virus and develop a severe form of the disease. Living in shelters, crowded shared apartments if not in camps or in the streets, most refugee and asylum-seeking people do not have the possibility to respect measures of physical distance. Most of them being unemployed – waiting to acquire the refugee status to get a legal job or having lost theirs due to the sanitary and economic crisis, thus living on a very low or nonexistent income, they often times do not have the means to afford masks nor hydroalcoholic gel for themselves let alone a whole family.

Less protected from the virus, asylum-seekers moreover may not be able to access the appropriate healthcare services if they get infected. The majority of them, waiting for the decision concerning their request for asylum or having received a rejection, indeed does not possess the required papers to be allowed into a hospital.

As it is the case for us all, threats on asylum-seeking and refugee people’s health are not only physical ; those times force us into a mental struggle as well. The general atmosphere, which may not be too disturbing or unfamiliar per se to some refugees and asylum-seekers, who have lived through other epidemic experiences in their countries of origin, can however revive some traumatic memories of those periods. The promiscuity of the collective dwellings they live in, while preventing any protective sanitary measure or isolation, makes even more difficult the creation of necessary spaces of loneliness and self-care, peaceful breathing and mental escape. In this context of tension, uncertainty and forced cohabitation, violence is on the rise – women, children as well as LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum-seekers are particularly vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the mobility restrictions and closing orders on many activities and public services slow down NGOs and asylum services’ functioning, in a moment when they probably are the most needed. To the uncertainty of one’s future and silence of authorities thus add a feeling of double-isolation, and sometimes abandonment from organizations, nonetheless working endlessly to adapt and meet ever-growing needs.

In those times of great restrictions, going for a walk seems to remain one of the last freedoms we have. Yet, even such a moment of pleasure and relief becomes a challenge and source of anxiety for asylum-seeking people who fear being controlled and arrested at each step.

And while most of us, when this situation comes to an end, will be free again, for others, lockdown, which was never an “exceptional state”, will remain.

February Volunteers

Our registry of volunteers for the month of February 2021.

Cooking Without Borders – Our Online Cooking Lessons

While borders remain closed, streets empty and parties impossible, Za’atar NGO is committed to build bridges, make people meet, cultures mix and create communities. What a better way to do so than through what we all share – and cherish, food and cooking ?

If Tastes of Damascus, the restaurant of our social enterprise, Layali Project, cannot open its doors and embark curious customers on a tasty trip, everyone can now travel in senses from their own kitchen. How ? By joining our weekly  live cooking lessons, bringing together refugees and Greek people ! After cooking dinner altogether, following the instructions of the restaurant’s team, participants share a well-deserved dinner, to the sound of the guitar or voice of a guest singer or musician.

From Athens to Beyrouth, from France to Venezuela or the United States, they are tenths of chefs-to-be to have joined us since the launching of this series of events. Together, we have flown to Syria, Algeria, Cameroon, each time learning local recipes and discovering new cultures. Many more destinations are to come. An enthusiastic and friendly group of people, coming from all walks and sizes with the same wish to live a nice moment of sharing and bonding, is waiting for you.

Do not miss out on our future trips !

Check out our website and Facebook page to stay updated on all our projects.  

January Volunteers.

Our registry of volunteers for the month of January 2021.

Building BRIDGES – Za’atar NGO, Partner-Organization of a European Research Project

Convinced of the importance of education in the process of inclusion of migrant and refugee people in society, Za’atar NGO has always had for mission to offer free language and skill classes as well as professional trainings to its beneficiaries.

It thus is as an actor of education and from civil society,  that the organization was invited to join a European consortium of research dedicated to improving inclusion in Higher Education, and take part in the ambitious project BRIDGES. Its goal : “diversifying knowledge and tackling discrimination through civil society participation in universities”.

This initiative, co-funded by the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union and the Servicio Español para la Internacionalización de la Educación (SEPIE), runs from October 2019 to July 2022, bringing together actors of Higher Education and civil society from Spain, Germany, Greece and the United Kingdom, under the coordination of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

Through this international and diverse partnership, inspired by Participatory Action Research methodologies , the project aims at producing four outcomes :

– a Virtual Lab accessible by all, on which will be displayed the different products and results of the research ;

– a Toolkit of concepts, exercises and strategies to challenge hegemonic discourses and dismantle exclusionary mechanisms operating in Higher Education ;

– a Course, ““Inclusion Without Discrimination,” aimed at current and future Higher Education instructors, which will be delivered in the second year of the project ;

– a Monograph, Diversifying Knowledges, Building Inclusive Societies: Theories and Methods of Narrative Productions., co-authored by all the participants, retracing the whole research adventure and elaboration of the narrative productions and participatory curriculum design, in order for them to be appropriated and replicated by all those who whish to engage with such a challenge.

Za’atar NGO is proud to be part of such an exciting project and intellectual journey, combining action and thinking for change.

Learn more about BRIDGES here.

December Volunteers

Our registry of volunteers for the month of December 2020.

In and Out – our ATLAS LGBTQ+ discussion groups

In those times of lockdown and social distancing, LGBTQ+ refugee and migrant people are particularly vulnerable.

While the safe spaces where they could find some relief and solidarity have closed, Za’atar NGO, in the framework of its ATLAS program, is working on opening some virtual parenthesis, to enable moments of lightness, friendship and breathing. Each week, two one-hour online meetings are held, in French and English, where participants can join in to share stories, feelings, memories and dreams, laughter and tears. Words and silences.

Our ATLAS LGBTQ+ meetings take place every Thursday or Friday on Zoom. You can join us by sending a message to the Orange House phone: +30 69 40671 666.

Find out more about Za’atar NGO and our other initiatives by visiting our website and Facebook page.

November Volunteers.

Our registry of volunteers for the month of November 2020.

October Volunteers.

Our registry of volunteers for the month of October 2020.

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