Doctors of the World to set up Kavala school

Chalkero camp, Kavala
November 11, 2016

Doctors of the World is responding to lack of education opportunities for youngsters at one Greek refugee camp by planning to open a school staffed in part by refugees living at the camp – an initiative which may help safeguard children’s health, and see some youngsters return to education for the first time in two years.

Chalkero refugee camp, situated around 10km East of Kavala city in North-Eastern Greece, is one of the smallest refugee camps in Greece. It is currently home to 240 people – 82 of them children.

Doctors of the World is the only organisation apart from the Greek military working at the camp and has noted a number of health impacts caused by the relative inactivity of children living there, including injuries sustained while playing on the mountainside on which the Chalkero facility sits.

DotW’s Chalkero camp field co-ordinator Anna Giovanios noted: ‘We need to start because the people living here at the camp have asked us if they can set up a school and asked us to help them to do so. Some of the children here have not been to school for two years. Also, because the children have nothing to do each day, they go up the mountain and it can be dangerous. And the only alternative is that they are sitting all day. They must do something, so we want to make sure they can have school sessions.

‘The children here need clothes. They need shoes. They need toys to play with, and they need school. Some of them have been two years without school, and we are working to do something about that, to make sure that they do not miss any more education.’

The DotW team has already ‘recruited’ three teachers in Kavala city who have agreed to volunteer at the camp’s school, and the rest of the staff will be made up of adult refugees living at the camp.

DotW Social Worker Hara Tsavou, who has been working with the children using songs, dances and other regular activities to reintroduce them to the idea of structured social learning, explained: ‘A lot of children have no activities to do, and the school should contain refugee teachers giving lessons to students – from the refugee to the refugee.

‘People here have food and a place to sleep – doctors as well – but not much more. Children need school and we are working hard to make sure they get it.’

*The program is funded by the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid Department.

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