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This blog documents my journey in June & July 2016 working on the question „What kind of answers young Greeks give to the crisis“? All posts available on Facebook #LisaInGreece 

25. April 2017 – Diskussion @Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung Reisestipendiat_innen, die im letzten Sommer durch eine Förderung der Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung und der Schwarzkopf-Stiftung Junges Europa nach Griechenland reisten, haben Jugendliche zum Umgang mit der Krise befragt. Sie berichten von ihren Eindrücken und diskutieren mit Euch und Expert_innen wie dem ehemaligen Botschafter der BRD in Griechenland, Wolfgang Schultheiss, und Politikberater Charalampos (Babis) Karpouchtsis über die Situation junger Menschen – und wie man die Krisen lindern kann.


08. November 2016 – Travel report published

Finally my travel report was published by Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung. It is written in German and in English and you can find it here: Reisebericht #LisaInGreece (scroll down)
But this is not the end of this blog – I will keep you updated about my work.

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15. Oktober 2016 – Presentation of the travel

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Foto: Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung, 2016, Berlin.

Today I had the chance to present my travel to the members and friends of Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung in Berlin. I told the foundations‘ board, guests, sponsors and other young scholarship holders about my experiences and impressions during my six week long travel in Greece. There I met really inspiring young people as e.g the founder of Jugend Rettet. In a few weeks my travel report will be published finally. I’ll keep you updated.

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2. August 2016 – Travel grant, last part: Thank you!

13886986_10208435998330774_4087457848820632297_nThe last six weeks I was traveling in Greece trying to find answers to the question: „What kind of answers young Greeks give to the crisis – what changed the last 7 years…“ I don’t have a complete puzzle now, but for sure I understand more than before. Since my travel grant finished last week I have to say THANK YOU: To the two foundations who made this travel and experiences in Greece possible, Schwarzkopf-Stiftung Junges Europa and Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung.

Secondly to all the people who shared their thoughts, experiences and feelings with me and made all these insights possible: 

In Athens: Katerina, the amazing team of Inter Alia, the Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality & Diversity team, the Greek Refugee Council and Tamara, the awesome project Communitism and especially Jenny. Chris, the chief editor of the homeless magazine „Sxedia“ and the guide Giannis, the members of the project ElanDe of Evangelische Gemeinde Deutscher Sprache in Athens and especially Hilde, the E1 team in Piraeus harbor and the University of Athens for meeting all this great experts on the Greek crisis in the summer school. In Amorgos: the citizens of this great island who deal with a lot of difficulties and spoke to me. In Epirus: the teachers and pupils of Thesprotikou, especially Paulina, Olga and Pater Kostas, Itzi and Laura and their friends and the Social Praxis in Arta and the teachers of the TEI in Arta.
In Syros: Foivos for sharing his experiences with me, the Chamber of Commerce and all the people who openly talked to me. In Chios: Don for sharing his thoughts on the island and economy, Raul for showing me insights about the refugee issue and the local youth, Stefanos for telling me more about Mastixa, the island and its culture and problems and of course the great Refugee School Chios who also built a Youth centre. In Lesvos: Katerina for taking so much time for me and my questions, Kostas for showing me the camps and telling me more about the situation and Manolis for showing me more about the island and its details.

I spent more money than I had budget but it was worth the effort – now I have to write all this down and a report will be published this autumn. I am thinking of writing it in English too, to make it also accessible to English and Greek speaking people who are interested in my topic. Thanks to all of you who supported me during the last weeks! Facebook

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27. Juli 2016 – Travel grant, last part: back in Athens.

13775994_10208393992720660_5627776659948437602_nDid you ever pay attention to the people wearing red vests in Athens? In fact they are vendors of the street newspaper „Sxedia“, the only street newspaper in Europe which has a waiting list for vendors (I speak about hundreds of people…)

Sxedia has vendors from 20 to 80 years – the majority of them is male and they are direct victims of the crisis as they lost their jobs and are not able to find a new one. It is not atypical to see a pensioner in the darkness of the evening looking in the garbage for food or after the vegetable and fruit market finished searching in the leftover in the streets. It is heartbreaking that a society cannot take care about those people who worked all their life and now need a minimum protection. So a lot of them have to work as vendors to survive somehow.

Half of the magazine’s prize (1,50€) directly goes to the vendor. All have different backgrounds and dont live necessarily on the streets. Sxedia is working hard to encourage its vendors to move on, be a part of the society and feel valued. Besides sport activities such as the Homeless Football World Cup they are engaged in the „Suspended Coffee“- project. The project enables everybody to have a cup of coffee. Anybody who buys a coffee in different cafes around Greece can pay for another one in advance and a person who does not have the economic power can get one and therefore participate in this very important daily Greek routine.

See the map of coffee shops participating in this project. If you are more interested in the routes and places of the homeless and disadvantaged in Athens I can highly recommend the Invisible tours of Sxedia, which directly support the vendors and will give you a feeling and sensibility for their life, to be not too fast with your opinion about somebody living on the street in Greece – and in general.

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23. Juli 2016 – Travel grant, part 7: Lesvos.

Three years ago, very few people had ever heard about this island, but it became well known as the most affected by refugee flows. There were times where more refugees than inhabitants lived in Mytilini, the capital. That obviously changed the life of the locals: People stopped swimming, eating fish, going to beach parties, because so many died in the Aegean sea. Now its going back to business. The refugees are living far outside, but they left their mark in the town. On the way to the sight of the city, the castle, a „solidarity tree“ was established 4 weeks ago. People wrote messages of hope and remembrance on pieces of discarded rubber boat, which were used to flee to Greece. 

When you go to the refugee camps Moria and Kara Tepe covered in olive groves, the first thing you see is a line of cars parking in front of the very well secured entrance: They belong to NGOs and volunteers who are still serving about 3300 people in facilities who are made for a third of it. Now very well organized, you have to register for everything. I had the chance to speak with a social worker there.

Up in the north of the island in Petra and Molyvos, the main destinations for tourists, I got to see the direct effects of the refugee crisis: The beach, tavernas, the castle: empty in the peak of the season. Covered in wisteria the beautiful shopping street Agora in Molyvos has almost no goods to offer anymore: Shop owners tell me that 80 percent of the shops had to close, because they couldn’t survive any longer without tourists.
‪#‎LisaInGreece‬

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21. Juli 2016 – Travel grant, part 6: Chios, 7 km from the turkish coast.

In Chios there are three camps for refugees with about 2000 places. 2 of them are placed in the centre of the city. Most of the refugees face hopelessness and despair which is mainly through a huge (communication) misunderstanding about what means asylum: Lots of them think Europe will provide them with a better future, a job, money and wealth. As far as this is not happening, some went to Athens but returned because the conditions were and are way worse and life there is even more tough since all camps are overcrowded. By this tensions emerge and youth gangs emerge on the small island.
Food is not as distributed by the army as in Athens but only by NGOs and volunteers. I went to sea with the volunteers from the Peoples street kitchen. Nobody wants to imagine whats happening if they weren’t present…

If you tell a Greek „Chios“, the first thing he will think of is Masticha: The „tears of Chios“, as the resin of the pistachio tree is called, is sold not only as alcohol any more, but as well as soaps, creams etc. Stefanos and his son are producing and selling this products in Pyrgi and also show me how their village in black-white-architecture is built. Close to it in the Mastichochoria a wonderful open air and inside exhibition, the Masticha museum has just been opened – a strong suggestion of mine!

The local economy is struggling, charter flights have rapidly declined, taxes increased. In four days I havent heard a single word  in the street which was not in Greek, Arabic or Turkish. In fact the Turkish tourists help Chios a lot, the locals told me, but what is happening now with the political situation? Turkey is only 7 km away.

The island doesnt earn it to be neglected in that way by international tourism.

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19. Juli 2016 — Reisestipendium „Griechenland und seine Krisen“, Teil 6: Chios, „Hotspot“-Insel.

Es hat sich eine Art Normalität eingestellt im Alltag vieler geflüchteter Kinder in Chios: Zusammen mit ihrem Lehrer und einem Freiwilligen machen sie sich, vorbei an Cafes und Geschäften, auf zu ihrer Schule. Schule in Griechenland für Geflüchtete? Im Juli? Möglich macht das das (überwiegend schweizerische) Team der Refugee School Chios, die erste Schule für über 100 Flüchtlingskinder in Griechenland. Herz des Projektes sind neben den Freiwilligen die Lehrer, die selbst Geflüchtete sind und dort die Kinder unterrichten. Das Team hat es geschafft, aus allen drei Flüchtlingscamps in Chios Kinder zwischen 6 und 15 Jahren zur Schule zu bekommen. Neben dem Unterricht auf Farsi oder Arabisch und Englischstunden gibt es auch Zeit für Projekte zu Umweltthemen, Kunst oder auch nur wie darüber, wie man sich richtig die Zähne putzt. Die Botschaft ist: „knowledge is power“. Die Unterstützung der Einheimischen in Chios hält sich dabei eher in Grenzen – nicht selten wird morgens ein ärgerlicher Blick auf die laut „Kalimera“-rufenden Kinder geworfen. Das Schulprojekt ist nur möglich durch Spenden  der „Be Aware and Share“Humanitarian Aid Organisation.

Am Sonntag hat das Team neben der Schule einen Jugendclub eröffnet, um auch denjenigen, die älter als 15 Jahre sind, eine Alternative zum Camp oder der Straße anzubieten.

„Knowledge is power“ – thats the message. Some of the refugee children in Chios feel a kind of normality in their lives again. The reason? The Refugee School Chios, a team of young people mainly from Switzerland provides those kids of the three camps in Chios Island with education in a school they built in May 2015. But not only the children profit from it, also the teachers who are refugees themselves got engaged in Farsi, Arabic and English classes. They are all doing project work on environmental issues, painting or just brushing teeth. For those who are older than 15 and cannot go to school (capacity problems) they opened a youth centre as an alternative non-formal educational space where its also possible to let some anger off at the sports equipment.

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15. Juli 2016 – Travel grant, part 5: Athens.

Thursday I had the chance to meet the people of Communitism in Metaxourgeio in their neoclassical house which formerly was a carpentry. Born out of the crisis, the small team works for creating a social, artistic and handcraft space for Greek and international artists but also the neighborhood. I felt the wonderful spirit, hope and joy of the place and the team and I was pleased to see Alexanders pictures of  Small Stories of Athens – Μικρές Ιστορίες της Αθήνας and hear the stories of the Caravan Project about the Social Conservatory and the blind fishermen! You are doing something very special, Natasa DidaJennyIrini and all the others – keep up your good work so that we can see the „tower of Metaxourgeio“ renovated as a guesthouse and sustainable in some years…

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13. Juli 2016 – Travel Grant, Part 5 – Athens reality:

The last weeks I mainly focused on the ongoing economic crisis in Greece, but on top of this crisis there is also the so called „refugee crisis“. Since the borders are closed every kind of official and unofficial shelter, camp or squat in Athens is full. 641 beds in shelters and transit centers are available for unaccompanied children in Greece, 911 are on the waiting list – cruel reality when children sleeping on the streets becomes something normal.
30 meters from where tourists search their ferries to get to their holiday vacation in Piraeus port you cannot ignore the refugees living in colorful tents.

I went to speak with two Greek organizations about the situation these days: Generation 2.0 provides free Skype service for refugees in their required languages and organises activities to bring Greeks and refugees together such as basketball tournaments in mixed teams. I spoke with a young Syrian and Iranian who introduced me in the legal affairs and bureaucracy they are facing every day.
At the busy Greek Refugee Council who provides refugees with legal aid, a place for education, calming down, having a Skype with the family I had the chance to follow the activities of six young Greeks with migration background who established a project named „Refugee Compass“ to involve refugee youngsters in different activities outdoor and indoor – because boredom and perspectiveness is something all refugees share here.

‪#‎LisaInGreece‬

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8. Juli 2016 – Travel Grant, Part 4 – Athens:

This week I attend the Jean Monnet Athens Summer School „Moving the EU forward” of the University of Athens on the future of the European Union and as well the Greek state/society.
‪#‎LisaInGreece‬

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5. Juli 2016 – Reisestipendium „Griechenland und seine Krisen“ Teil 3, Syros- zwischen Krise und Innovation.

Syros mit seiner pittoresken Hauptstadt Ermoupolis ist der Verwaltungssitz der Kykladen-Inseln. Einst bekannt für ihre mächtige Werft, die Neorion, gibt es jetzt fast nur noch Probleme – die letzten Monate konnten die noch verbliebenen Arbeiter nicht mehr bezahlt werden. Aber es gibt auch Mut zur Hoffnung: In der Kammer der Kykladen erzählen sie mir von einer Idee, die sich gut entwickelt: Die Rede ist von dem Projekt „Aegean Cuisine“, einem Netzwerk von Restaurants die alle für lokale Produkte und ausgezeichnete Qualität stehen. Das Ziel sei es, den Geschmack des jeweiligen Mikroklimas jeder Inseln der Kykladen durch lokale Produkte und Rezepte zu erhalten und bekannt zu machen.

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4. Juli 2016 – Travel grant part 3: Athens.

Was Studenten mit Athener Kiosks und der ‪#‎documenta14‬ zu tun haben, hab ich heute für die HNA notiert: Die Kasseler Moving School war vergangene Woche zu Gast am Athener Vakalo Art & Design College.

Im nächsten Jahr findet die wichtigste Ausstellung für zeitgenössische Kunst sowohl in Kassel, als auch in Athen statt.

 


27. Juni 2016 –  Travel grant part 2: Epirus.

Wie ist es wenn man nicht gerade Bauer, Polizist oder Lehrer werden will? Die einzige Antwort ist Auswandern, erzählen mir fünf junge Mädchen eines Gymnasiums in den Bergen im Epirus. Ingenieur, Mechaniker oder Anwalt heißen ihre Berufsziele, England und Deutschland sind die Länder ihrer Wahl. Ihr Mathelehrer ist deshalb sauer auf sie: So viel stecken die Eltern in die Ausbildung ihrer Kinder und dann greifen andere Länder deren Potential ab – das kann er nicht gutheißen. Doch wer kann es ihnen übel nehmen? Manche haben einen Schulweg von 90 Minuten. Nach der Schule und in den Sommerferien wird den Eltern auf dem Feld oder im Laden geholfen. Urlaub im August? Ist nicht drin. Nur Maria und Marianna wollen in Griechenland bleiben, zur Polizei oder Armee gehen – da gibt es jeden Monat einen festen Lohn. Ihr Lehrer, Pater Kostas, versucht trotzdem ihnen verschiedene Optionen aufzuzeigen.

What to do when you don’t want to become a farmer, teacher or policemen? Five grammar school pupils in the mountain region of Epirus told me that their only solution is leaving Greece. They want to become engineers, lawyers or mechanics – Great Britain and Germany are the destinations they are looking for. Because of this their math teacher is angry: Parents invest so much in the education of their children and other countries should profit by this? This isn’t acceptable for him – but who can blame the girl for searching their fortune? Some of the pupils have a 90 minutes way to school through the mountains. After school they help their parents in the fields or in the shops. Vacation in August? Not possible. Only Maria and Marianna want to stay in Greece and work for the Greek police or army. Why? Because every month you get a stable wage.

‪#‎LisaInGreece‬

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24. Juni 2016 – Travel grant part 2: Arta, Epirus.

Fast 2000 Menschen aus Arta und den umliegenden Dörfern sind schon durch die Räumlichkeiten der Sozialen Arztpraxis und Apotheke in Arta gegangen, die es dort seit 1 1/2 Jahren als ehrenamtliche Struktur gibt. Manche Patienten nehmen Fußmärsche von Stunden in Kauf, um einen Arzttermin oder Medikament zu bekommen, das sie sich nicht leisten können – selbst wenn es nur 10€ kostet. Alle Medikamente in der Praxis sind Spenden, die Ärzte behandeln gratis.
Es sind meist Menschen mit 0€ Einkommen und ohne Krankenversicherung die herkommen, denn nach einem Jahr Arbeitslosigkeit gibt es in Griechenland keinerlei Unterstützung mehr vom Staat. Manche kommen nur ein Mal, viele kommen wieder. Arta liegt im Epirus, in Westgriechenland – eine der ärmsten Gegenden der gesamten Eurozone. Gäbe es die Uni und die Musikfakultät des TEI Artas nicht, wäre die Stadt nicht so lebendig.

Every day the group of women of the social medical practise and pharmacy in Arta in Epirus, one of the poorest regions in the Eurozone, do not only come for the patients, but also for themselves: They want to get active. Most of the 2000 people who passed through their rooms in the centre of the city have zero-income and no insurance. Some have an arrival time of hours to get an appointment with a doctor or medecine for free – on foot. All medicaments are donations and the doctors and volunteers work for free.

Σας ευχαριστώ παρά πολύ για την φιλοξενία και τον χρόνο σας, Κοινωνικο Ιατρειο-Φαρμακειο ΑΡΤΑΣ

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17. Juni 2016 – Travel grant „Greece and its crises“, part 1: Amorgos.

Idyllisches Ferienparadies? Für Einheimische und Touristen gestaltet sich das momentan etwas schwierig, denn zwei der drei Bankoutmaten der Insel funktionieren seit zwei Wochen nicht mehr. Der Grund: Die Firma, die die Automaten bestückt, ist mit der Krise pleite gegangen, ein Nachfolger findet sich nicht so leicht und das zum Beginn der Saison. Was tut man also? Man schreibt wieder an beim Cafeinhaber, bis man zum nächsten Automaten kommt – unvorstellbar zuhause.
Problems in paradise: 2 out of 3 ATMs in Amorgos dont work. Why? The company who takes care about them got bankrupt. For two weeks now this is the situation for locals and tourists in the island. Café& taverna owners let people put it on the bill as in old times.

‪#‎LisaInGreece‬

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16. Juni 2016: Documenta goes Athens

Die documenta14 wird 2017 zum ersten Mal nicht nur in Kassel, sondern auch in Athen stattfinden. 163 Tage Kunst, 2 Orte, 1 Ausstellung- geboren aus einer kulturellen Notwendigkeit – der Krise – wie es der künstlerische Leiter ausdrückt.
Mein Bericht aus Athen, heute in der HNA

 

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13. April 2016 – 
Reisestipendium erhalten!

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I would really like to thank the Schwarzkopf-Stiftung Junges Europa and the Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung that they have chosen me for a travel grant this summer. I will be traveling six weeks through Greece and write blog posts and a research report about youth, the crisis and the refugee issue.

Το ταξίδι ξεκιναει τον Ιούνιο – όλες οι συμβουλές και οι επαφές σας είναι ευπρόσδεκτες. Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ! Facebook-Post