In this semi-nomadic life that I seem to be leading, I am accumulating a collection of homes across the world. My heart holds Taichung, Taipei, Tokyo, Seattle/Bellevue, and Athens close. These places are all where I have resided, whether it be for weeks, months, or years. They are familiar places where I feel comfortable, places in which parts of me have originated and can trace their foundations back to.
For me, I never imagined that a refugee camp would be a home to me. And in saying that, I don’t intend on minimizing the tragedy of the ongoing refugee crisis nor romanticizing the living conditions in the camp. There are very real, pressing problems in Eleonas Camp and other refugee camps around the world.
Yet, in the brokenness, there is so much beauty and potential. As is said in the hit Disney movie Mulan: “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” In this camp, I have had the privilege to befriend many who despite their difficult circumstances, are blooming. Whether it is translating their professional skills from back home in woodworking to laser-cutting, or simultaneously learning both English and German in their pursuit of greater opportunities, there are many who in this unexpected home are trying their best to thrive.
How can I make this home of mine feel more like home for all in the community? How can we work together to bring a sense of comfort and ownership toward a living environment that people didn’t choose for themselves?
The last crowdfunding campaign that I ran for Project Elea was largely for clothing needs. This time, I would like to invite you to join me in raising support for the community-creating needs at Eleonas.
There are three goals for this campaign:
1. Tea Time [€300] - As winter draws near, the nights are getting increasingly cold. The wind chill at the camp is sharp - certainly a potential deterrent for residents from staying and mingling as we otherwise have done on warmer nights. My parents have already contributed €200 toward buying large tea urns, and I am looking for an additional €100 to keep it going for its first month.
2. Green Streets [€1400] - Inspired by residents in Camp 2 who worked together to create the original ‘Green Street’, this activity involves collaborating with residents to discuss how they want to change their street implementing their desired changes. Whether this means constructing gardens, improving lighting, painting container doors, or other creative interventions, it is an opportunity to work together to create a more livable community. Through first engaging residents in our Pop-Up Campaign, then hosting individual Street Meetings, we have been aiming to be as inclusive as possible. Many residents also have woodworking, construction, and design skills, and are able to utilize them in this activity.
3. Events [€300] - One of Project Elea’s greatest strengths is event planning. During my time here in the spring and autumn, we have hosted events such as an Easter Fun Fair, Community Potluck, Dance Battle, Eleonas Got Talent, Halloween Party, Theatre performances, and the Elea Cup, not to mention the events that I haven’t been a part of, such as Nowruz (Persian New Year) and Eid (celebrating the end of Ramadan). These events bring together our diverse community and are activities that residents and volunteers alike actively contribute to and look forward to.
Would you like to work with us to further bring the Eleonas community together? Any contribution is valued and greatly appreciated!
If you want to learn more about the community-building work we are doing here at Eleonas, and/or have an interest in volunteering here as well, please send me a message.
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