In 2020, Fingerprints Ruth & Arjanne started volleyball lessons for people of concern (POC, as not all people in the camp, are refugees) in the Greek camp in Moria, being a volunteer for CRR, Eurorelief, and Let's Keep The Ball Flying.
Our current partner in Ioannina is Yoga & Sports and Habibi & Sports With Refugees. The organization Yoga & Sports offers volleyball sessions at a sports club outside the camp. We are currently managing to collaborate with all partners to aim for the best possible volleyball program. They are a crucial part of integrating sports into the area and people.
We have a volleyball net, and a designated court, but most of the time, we play volleyball in another better area. Volleyball is quite popular in the camp.
"During covid restrictions, we secretly played volleyball at the end of the day. People who passed by, children and adults, joined spontaneously. The joy, excitement, and all people playing together, showed us exactly why we are here."
Currently within all three locations; Athens, Ioannina, and Lesbos, there are regular volleyball classes and Volleyball for women in all of them. Even with the weather conditions, we have been involved, coaching 30-40 people per day in two different locations.
Daniel is one of our volunteers in the active projects on Lesbos and works together with Yoga & Sports. The philosophy of the NGO is to provide activities outside of the camp. Covid has brought a lot of difficulties in terms of regulations so some of the other NGOs are not allowed in the camps anymore. However, they continue to have team-building activities like hiking, football matches, and sightseeing.
Most of the women from the team got their asylum cases accepted. This is really special because only one out of 40 minors didn’t get their asylum granted.
Due to this, they had to recruit more women in order to make a new women's team and to get more individuals involved. It is a reoccurring project as people come and go all the time.
"There were 800-900 new asylum cases approved this month, the camp is about 2000, so half of the camp will be gone in the next month."
There are a few cultural differences between the refugees.
"A lot of the refugees are Muslims, and many come from a very strict Muslim community, so for the first 3-4 months was an incredible experience and be around the girls who normally don’t have this experience."
From that point on we decided together with the women and men to create a mixed Volleyball team. We did this gradually to start mixing the men and women up for warmups like the pepper drill.
This was an important chapter and very special as they were motivating each other. It’s great to see because it is now complete integration regardless of gender and age. A lot of the residents from the island also joined.
This is a very special experience because it was new for everyone; the residents, who had never played with the refugees, and the men, women, and coaches.
"For them suddenly to play Volleyball together, is probably the most important part for me. You could see them break down the barriers and lose their shyness."
Increasing the diversity in the volleyball program is becoming a very important focus. Recently in the last month, many people have been arriving from Africa like Ethiopia and Somalia.
We are able to reach different nationalities and cultures. So now, there is one more training day during the week; 6 days per week and soon back to Beach volleyball training. We are also giving CPR training to all Volleyball players!
There are a lot more refugees arriving now because of the weather, so starting next month there will be a lot of new arrivals. Something that has never happened before, is that everybody had to get Asylum, including Yoga & Sports, football, boxing, coaches, administrators, refugees, etc.
"On a bigger scale, the change of their personas, their attitude and how they developed as people is amazing to see."
They were having more fun and changed their attitude from what it was at the start. You could see them opening up to this new culture which they will integrate into. It’s something magical that is beautiful to witness. ✨
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