A child plays at the Elaionas refugee camp in Athens, in a January photo.
“The refugees we’ve housed at our facilities once again feel human. From the moment they arrive, they get their own room with a door and a key.” This is the secret to the success of Elpida Home, according to Amed Khan, the founder of the operation.
“We award you for your philanthropy and especially for the humanity and active solidarity you’ve shown,” said the president of Solidarity Now’s board of directors, Stelios Zavvos, as he presented the 45-year-old American with the Civil Society Award in Athens on Monday.
In early 2016, Khan collaborated with Frank Giustra of the Radcliffe Foundation on a project to provide refugees with a better quality of life. They did this by reconstructing an abandoned factory outside Thessaloniki, which was already hosting refugees, and turning it into a guesthouse, giving priority to children and vulnerable groups. Every day, they are rewarded for their efforts with smiles. As Khan was getting ready to travel to Athens to accept the award, the young guests of Elpida Home were putting on swimwear for their first swimming lessons. The lessons are part of a program provided by the Education Ministry. At the same time, the mothers were attending dance, music and yoga classes, provided by NGOs that collaborate with Elpida Home. “Elpida Home gave us hope,” many women are heard saying in their mother tongue in a video about the guesthouse.
He is planning to work on more such projects. “The housing problem has started to subside. Now priority must be placed on getting these people to work, since everyone needs to have a job. I aim to discuss this with investment leaders in Greece, for them to open up jobs for them,” said Khan, as he leverages his expertise in the business world to approach the reality of the refugee crisis.
Khan was born and raised in the United States to Iranian parents and is on the advisory committee for the International Crisis Group.
While working with Elpida Home, which registered as an NGO last October, he has also been getting involved in another project. “In Mosul, which is just now being liberated from ISIS, we’re thinking of building an educational program aimed at fighting Islamic State propaganda. We’re also targeting Libya for future projects,” he explains.