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.

“Innovation and refugee women : an inspiring leadership” – Conference at the French Institute of Athens

On October 1st, our cofounder, Marina Liakis, was invited to a roundtable dedicated to the empowerment of refugee women through entrepreneurship, “Innovation and refugee women : an inspiring leadership”.

Her telling of  the experience and projects of Za’atar NGO, the Orange House and Layali Project was one of the numerous inspiring testimonies and stories that were shared on this rich evening, hosted by the French Institute of Athens in the framework of the cycle of conferences “Jeunesse Innovante” (Innovative Youth), in partnership with The Cube. From football stadiums to the kitchens of migrant and refugee mothers, participants took the audience on a journey of passion, encounters and commitment to gender justice and the inclusion, fulfillment and empowerment of all.

Catch up with this great conference by clicking the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03jA1p9k9Mo.

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

Empowering all.

Back in May of this year, Za’atar NGO celebrated its fourth anniversary. Four years through which we learnt and reflected a lot – on humanitarian work, what it means to volunteer, to empower, and more. That is why, on this occasion, we had the idea to share with potential volunteers and fellow NGO workers four lessons we learnt those past four years.

After finding the good balance and position towards the people you have chosen to inform, accompany and support, having reflected on the complexity of the relationship tied between volunteers and beneficiaries, time has come to think about the eventual unconscious biases one may have towards the latter and perhaps should question in order to fulfil their mission as a volunteer to the best.

Za’atar Summer Series 2020 – 4/4

Empowering all.

Refugee, asylum-seeker and migrant people come from all walks and sizes, bearing their own story, each following their own path, facing their challenges while sharing the pain of one’s flight, the loss of one’s home and the will to build a new, safer, better life. However, once arrived in Europe, they may, depending on their origins and national public policies regarding immigration, find themselves in a variety of situations, and have a more or less easy access to resources. A great number of services aiming at refugee people offer a translation in Arabic and Farsi while French, which is the main language talked by people coming from Sub-Saharan Africa, is often forgotten, for example. The same can be said of housing policies, which favour some groups over others – based on an appreciation of their reasons for migrating, of course, those are not arbitrary decisions. Some similar or different forms of discrimination, more or less conscious, can also be observed within humanitarian organizations.

It is not rare to see volunteers spending some time and getting familiar with English-speaking beneficiaries – while English is not Greece’s national language. By doing so, however, they encourage people to learn and practice a language they themselves, foreign volunteers, speak and often have as a mother-tongue rather than those refugees and asylum-seekers’ integration into the Greek society, which cannot be possible without the tool of language.

Volunteers indeed tend to pay more attention to or be more friendly with beneficiaries who resemble them, exchanging with a young westernized English-speaker man rather than a middle-aged pious African woman trying to learn Greek, for instance.

All those behaviors are obviously not surprising considering humans, as social beings, are attracted to what looks familiar, known, and therefore, friendly. They, consequently, have to overcome mental barriers to exchange with individuals who appear or act in different, unknown, strange ways. However, when working as a humanitarian volunteer or worker, when undertaking a mission of support and empowerment of migrant, asylum-seeker and refugee people, it perhaps is of our responsibility, as human beings and social actors, to go beyond our prejudices and preconceptions, to overcome our fear of the Other, the unknown, the stranger-coming-from-far-away, in order to approach, exchange with and welcome them.

In this regard, progress could be achieved by simply raising awareness on those unconscious tendencies and bias one may have, through dedicated training and information. Because being willing to work among foreign people, volunteering with migrant, asylum-seeker and refugee people, does not mean one is completely emancipated from social constructs and prejudice.

And because empowerment begins with the eyes you chose to lay on the other.