The HOME Project (which stands for “Help, Overcome, Motivate and Empower”) provides shelter and work for young refugees in Greece. The international nonprofit organization currently houses 200 children in 10 homes in Athens. Here are some of their stories, in their own words.
This is the first part of the stories. A second part will follow on Monday.
A.N. (Socrates Shelter)
Hello I am A.N. I am 15 years old and I am from Pakistan. Yesterday I went with A., my best friend, and a group of friends to Monastiraki Square. We used the train to get there and when we got out we saw the amazing breakdancers who perform in the middle of the square.
I regularly visit Monastiraki, although it is a very crowded place. I get the chance to see these dancers and enjoy their free spirit when they spin around on their head or jump high. With my friends we like to walk around and see the old city ruins while we drink our favorite cold drinks. I like to maintain my good habits here. I don’t smoke or drink like I see people at my age around me doing. I just like to have fun with my friends and go to this very nice school where I go. After classes we all meet at a big square nearby and play football until the sun disappears.
I like the city of Athens as people are good to me. Except this one time when I was outside a hospital waiting for a friend of mine and I approached a kid who was playing football to ask if he wanted to play with me. Then an old lady told him not to play with me because I am black. I understand some people are racist out of fear, so I don’t feel sad anymore.
One day I will become a translator. This is a really good job that will allow me to do the two things I love; talking to people and helping them. I also had a girlfriend here, she was younger than me, 13 years old. We met each other at an Easter party in Athens. She was secretly taking photos of me at the party and at some point she approached me. She was really cute and we started talking, soon we followed each other on Instagram and she showed me the photos she took of me. Unfortunately, now we are not together and I don’t like talking about this much.
I spend a lot of time with my friends now. We go to the beach because it is summer. It is really fun. There, those of us who know how to go swimming while the rest go fishing. We also like to look at the beautiful girls who pass by at the beach. I know how to impress girls so I believe I will find a new girlfriend someday.
D.T.K. (Shapiro Shelter)
My name is D.T.K. I am 17 years old and I come from Congo. My city is Kinshasa. Some of the things I like to do during the day include using my phone and sleeping, though my favorite activity is shopping! I really want to go to Sweden one day, when I will be able to do so.
Since I came to Greece (Athens), I have visited many places. Some places I like and some others not so much. Greece has many historical sites. I like the Archaeological Museum, for example. I photographed it because it looks nice and I can appreciate its historical value. It is a beautiful building.
I like the things that are of historical value. It is magical that so many people respect and like these places like I do. There are also some objects that have touched me and others that did not because we use them in everyday life. Sometimes there are objects that we use that I like a lot because they were also used by our ancestors.
R. (Shapiro Shelter)
My name is R. I am 18 years old and I am from Afghanistan. I have been in Greece since September 2017 and on the 24th of July I will go with my brother to Sweden to live with our sister. I am so excited.
When I came to Greece I decided to go to school and learn the English language. The first days at school were very difficult for me because I didn’t understand English or Greek, but I decided to continue trying. After school I was going to the Habibi Center to learn English. Our teachers there are volunteers and I really love them. I passed the intermediate level and now I am studying for the advanced level. I want to take the opportunity to thank my teachers. The people in Greece are very good and helpful. I thank them for everything.
I have a request to people from every country. I am a Muslim and I wear a hijab. Please, please, respect our religion and don’t behave badly toward us because we wear the hijab. This is our choice. As we respect your religion you should respect our religion. Best wishes, R.
S. (Pugad Shelter)
On Thursday of the previous week I arrived from Alexandroupoli in Athens. There I was in a closed camp for over two months. I was not allowed to go outside. I was really sad there. Every day was the same: sleep, eat and go around the camp. Until the 27th of July, when two girls came and brought me and my sister from Alexandroupoli to Athens.
It was that day that I visited a beach in Greece. The scenery there was breathtaking. I hadn’t seen the sea before that for so long. Afterwards we arrived at the airport, where I was really anxious about flying with an airplane. It was the first time in my life that I would fly with an airplane.
When the plane took off it was a wonderful feeling I understood that it was not bad at all, as I had expected. In fact, I could see all of Athens from above! So many little dots that looked like houses and somewhere among them I knew was my new house. They told me I would live in a house not a camp anymore. And that’s what happened. I arrived at a new beautiful home. I also found a very good new friend. I really like my new home.
A.A. (Kallithea Shelter)
My name is A.A. And I am from Iraq. I am 17 years old.
I came to Greece in September 2016. I arrived on the island of Lesvos and I stayed there just one month, and I have stayed in Athens for two years. I’m so happy because I am here in Greece.
I like it in Athens on the bus because I like to see the city and see the people. I am also a good football player. I like the food from Greece. The special food is souvlaki, and my favorite place is in Kallithea. I also really like Syntagma Square. The weather is so cool with a nice breeze and even nicer in the summer because I can go swimming, but the bad thing is that your skin changes to brown.
We love Greece because of the nice people.
W.A. (Socrates Shelter)
I want to talk about Monastiraki and Thiseio, which are my favorite places in Athens. Most days I go for a walk with my friends there. First we go for coffee and after we walk to the Acropolis. We enjoy the view of Athens and we all sit there and talk about our future. After we come back to the square and watch African dancers.
In my neighborhood there are shops and markets and a big park and many more things. Every day I wake up around 8.30 in the morning. I take a shower, I eat breakfast and I go to school. I study English and Greek. One day I went to the Muslim museum in Monastiraki. My favorite park is the one at the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center. I like going on the roof to enjoy the view and I also like cycling. The coffee there is great. I love coffee, especially freddo cappuccino. I like Greek cuisine but not everything. My favorite food is soutzoukakia and souvlaki and also pizza and pasta, although I know they are not Greek food.
However, there are some things that I don’t like about Athens. First of all, the Greek language is very difficult and if you don’t know how to speak Greek it’s even more difficult to find a job. Also, it is very difficult to get a residence permit, which makes organizing your life extremely hard.
I like Greek comedy and I know the father of comedy is Aristophanes. I enjoy Greek music, singers such as Karras, Kiamos, Oikonomopoulos, Nasos, Elena Paparizou and Argyros, and I like the Spanish song “Despacito.” I also like “Lazy Song” by Bruno and “Bum Bum Tam Tam” by MC Fioti. I like Greek girls, but I believe they care more about money and less for love. I don’t like this, because I like to be in love with my partner and her with me. I believe in trust between partners.
My dream is to live in Greece forever and that is why a job, love, friends, the feeling of safety are so important for me because without these things life is not life.
F.R. (Socrates Shelter)
Athena: one of the 12 gods of Olympus, daughter of Zeus and protector of the city of Athens that bears her name as well.
My name is F. and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m 17 years old and I have been living in Athens for almost three years. The shelter that I live in is close to Victoria Square. The buildings around it are mostly shops, houses and brothels. I don’t like the area, because it’s too noisy. There is a lot of cars, I find it very dirty and there are not so many trees and there is a lot of pollution.
I would like to live close to the Acropolis or Glyfada, because they are greener areas. Also, many cars are not allowed there and it is much cleaner. I like Glyfada because it is clean, green and next to the sea. I love the sea and that’s why my favorite park is Floisvos in Palaio Faliro. It’s full of trees and you can watch the beautiful sunset.
When I first came to Greece I attended English courses for two years. Now, I play football every day with my friends from the shelter and a few days ago I started going to the gym.
I want to share my opinion about Greek people. For example, I really like that Greek people don’t take life very seriously, but I also think that this is one of the reasons why the country is not very organized. I enjoy summer in Athens, because I like to dress light and visit the beach. My favorite beach is Avlaki in Porto Rafti. Soon, I will go to Germany, but I would like to come back to Athens for holidays and to visit my friends.
L. (Shapiro Shelter)
Athens is the city of dreams. Before I visited Athens, people told me good things about this city. When I started my journey to this beautiful city I was stressed and then I finally I arrived. The reason that I made this journey is because I had some problems for quite a long time.
Athens is a very beautiful city. When I was in the car I was looking outside, thinking, “Ooh my God, what beautiful sea.” The churches are beautiful and big. Life in Athens has a beautiful feeling. The people here have nice culture and behavior, especially with immigrants. Here there are many places to see, beautiful scenes and high and green mountains. In the museums of Athens there are many ancient things to see. Also, there are many beautiful parks. I hope one day to see the whole city.
I really like football. Today my team won twice. Of course, I am very happy because we beat the boys. The boys play football all the time but we played for the first time and we won.
To learn more about the HOME Project, visit www.homeproject.org.