women's & children's shelter
On the upper floors of our building is a shelter which provides long term housing for up to 15 female refugees and their children. Our residents generally stay at the Orange House between four and six months and come from countries around the world such as Syria, Congo, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. Referrals for the shelter come from organizations across Greece including other NGO's, the UNHCR, and refugee camps near Athens.
In order to live at the Orange House, residents are required to take a minimum of five classes per week. Residents are also responsible for cooking the daily meal offered at the shelter and cleaning the shelter every evening. These requirements are the result of a philosophy that emphasizes empowering and not pitying refugees.
The shelter becomes a place not just for our residents to live, but also for them to interact with women from around the world. We make an effort to put women from different countries and cultures in the same bedroom in order to enocurage cross cultural communication.
The shelter relies on a sustainable model. Residents are hosted for a limited six-month period – of which they are informed from the beginning. The shelter is a temporary space for them to feel safe and empowered, before gaining autonomy. We have developed a holistic approach, providing psychological and legal supports, language classes, CV workshop and vocational trainings. Through a personal support, we follow each resident in their progression and support them as much as we can in becoming independent. We are really proud that several of them managed to leave the shelter even before the six-month period’s ending, having already found a job or another accommodation.
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.