Dear Friends and Family -
In just a couple of weeks, I will be traveling to Mytilene on the Greek island of Lesvos to spend the month of September volunteering at a school for unaccompanied minor refugee children from Syria, Afghanistan and North Africa. I’ll be volunteering with an organization called Refugee Education and Learning (REAL) International. This group, started by a few Bay Area educators, recruits retired teachers like me to help the classroom teachers do their challenging jobs. REAL volunteers work in the classrooms of Gekko Kids, a project of Better Days Greece, an organization that supports innovative, independent projects designed as alternative responses to the refugee crisis in Greece. Here is a link to the Gekko Kids website and to Better Days (the NGO that sponsors Gekko Kids and other refugee-initiated community projects):
(Gekko Kids gets its name because geckos, small, colorful lizards, are found all over the world and have resilient and adaptive characteristics, something Gekko Kids exhibit.)
The island of Lesvos, particularly in the area of Mytilene, has been the landing sight of tens of thousands of refugees from Syria, Afganistan and northern Africa fleeing war and persecution. Refugee children experience trauma as well as total disruption in their education, sometimes losing years of schooling, while on the move. NGOs and private non-profit organizations are all that there is to help refugees in Lesvos prepare for resettlement. REAL teachers support the regualr Greek classroom teachers at Gekko Kids by providing language development, basic math skills and and other aspects of general education to allow the children to succeed wherever they are placed.
Some children arrive in family groups, some arrive with a sibling and no parents, and some children arrive completely alone. All have experienced trauma and minor children are especially vulnerable to being harmed and exploited. All of the children at Gekko Kids are unaccompanied minors. Every week, there are more arrivals.
(Record numbers of migrants have been arriving on Lesbos, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan and Pakistan. Dinghies arriving at night typically carry up to 40 people. Photograph: Loris Savino)
I hope to use my special education and art teaching skills to contribute to the educational opportunities of students at Gekko Kids. I greatly look forward to daily language exchange with the young people, game playing and making art together.
(REAL volunteer Cate Sundling teaching beginning English.)
I am hoping to raise enough money to help defer some of the costs for travel and lodging in the teacher group house. This volunteer opportunity requires complete self-funding.
(Here's a group of teenagers playing a game, talking and practicing language skills.)
Your donation will help offset the cost of the educational supplies I will bring to share, the cost of travel and room and board in the teacher group house. I am enormously grateful for your help in making this work possible! Thank you for anything you can spare to allow me to participate in the important work of this school.
Lastly, I encourage those of you who have both teaching skills and time to check out this opportunity. Please let me know if you are interested and I'll connect you with REAL's volunteer coordinator. Here is the link to REAL International’s Facebook page:
DonationsSee top donations
- Jolene Barcinas
- Jolene Barcinas
- Iris Kameny
- Nancy Welt
- Patricia Williamson
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more