The Orange House Community Center
The Orange House is the home of Za'atar NGO. A two-story building in the heart of central Athens, The Orange House provides a variety services to refugees and migrants based in Kipseli area. Here, refugees find a safe place to feel empowered, learn, and grow open Monday through Saturday from 10:00am to 7:00pm.
The largest service the Orange House offers is our daily schedule of classes. Offering language classes in Greek and English, our school's curriculum fills two classrooms 6 days a week. We also offer vocational training (fishing, tailoring, cooking, and more). We also offer the services of a lawyer and psychologist who offer services in Greek, English, and French and also offer interpreters. We make a particular effort to employ teachers from the refugee community so classes can be taught by a Farsi, Arabic or French native speaker. In addition to language classes, the Orange House also offers extra curricular courses when possible.
Many beneficiaries arrive at the Orange House learn about the other services we offer including a free daily meal and CV workshops.
Our lunch is served daily at 3:00pm and always served without meat in order to both reduce costs and our environmental footprint. Read more about our efforts to reduce our environmental impact below.
Finally, our CV workshops are slowly growing into a larger jobs support program through a new organization, Project Layali, founded by Za'atar's team. You can read more about Za'atar's efforts to assist refugees and migrants with employment opportunities below.
an in depth look: our priorities at the orange house
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.