News

Volunteers, Those Special Creatures

Nowadays, it looks as if our society has forgotten two critical standards of humanity: Share & Give. We do not refer to sharing or giving money. We are talking about TIME. Time is one of the few things that money cannot buy; which is the reason why we truly appreciate volunteers. They have generously given and shared their time.

All volunteers should be proud of themselves for the simple fact of trying to improve this individualistic and selfish society in which we live in. Volunteers are a minority or a small percentage of society, and as such, they are aware of how difficult it is to go against the tide. The decision of volunteering does not sound logical for most people. Working without getting paid? That might sound weird! Yet, volunteers don’t prioritize money. Instead, they are recompensed with intense experiences, true friendships, and the gift of meeting people from different cultures, tones of skin or religions. They feel fulfilled in receiving a hug or a special look—the way that someone, who speaks a different language, shows gratitude without using words.

Volunteers also learn a lot from each other. They come out of a volunteering experience with so much more. More knowledge, more gratefulness, and more hope. One way or another, they are rewarded in life. They do not ask to get something in return, but they know that the one who plants, sooner or later will harvest.

The Habibi Center, as the small project that we are, we owe absolutely everything to volunteers. We were made and formed from normal people; people who usually wake up early in the mornings, work hard, and try to live a happy and peaceful life. Sometimes those in charge of making decisions in our countries put stones in our wheels, tripping up volunteers in their regular life and making volunteering more difficult due to financial circumstances. In spite of this, they rise up again and continue to be a helping hand to us in any possible way.

Habibi Center would be nothing without the help and support from volunteers.

Thank you very much to all of you!

News from Athina 17.07.2017

Several of our students’ families have already been relocated to other European countries such as Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, and Germany. We are happy they have been relocated after such a long wait, and we are hopeful for their new lives. We miss you: Aland, Zyad, Mayada, Ali, Nesaf, Hanan, Amal, Saud, Aziz, Aziza, Jack, and Khadia, and many other students from our time in Eleousa. We are immensely proud and happy to have been able to help them to grow in the limited time that we had.

The students that remain with us are still working hard and learning a lot in Habibi Center, Athens. Some of them (Raid, Nazdar, Nizar, Raeda, Layla, Ahlam, Mahmood, Saher and Janan) recently took the KET for Schools English Exam through the British Council. We are very proud of their hard work and preparation for this exam. “You guys amaze us. And we are certain; that it is your dedication and drive that will help you to reach further and become successful in education, in work, and in life.”

As we await their results, we will begin preparing for the next exams. Our hope is to give each of our students the opportunity to take these exams, to add an official certification to their CV/portfolios, thereby giving them a boost in their academic history and opening doors when searching for work. For those who have nothing to show from their education back in their home countries, this certification is an invaluable chance to a brighter future.

Thank you Habibi Family for supporting us

Yes, we can!

Nobody said it was easy, my friends! When our co-founders, Stephanie and Toby, came up with the idea of opening up an educational centre for the youth, neither of them imagined that to run this project was going to be so complex and exhausting. Every step, even the ones that should be easy, always turned into a bothersome and high energy consuming task. We should ask them: Did any of you guys ever have a give-up moment? I guess they did. But, luckily, they discarded that option. Perseverance and determination, vital characteristics stuck within Habibi Center’s DNA, were gained from them.

JUST DO IT! This famous motto would perfectly match one of the other characteristics of Habibi Center. If our co-founders had not been brave and determined enough to pioneer this educational project in Epirus in July 2016, these youth would probably still lack any type of education. There are neither excuses nor time to lose when it comes to education. We cannot give up. We must keep equipping youth for a brighter future and do this as soon as possible.

It would be difficult to give up when you can see, touch, and share feelings with all these lovely people. Habibi Center does not work from fancy offices but seeing the real issues with our own eyes.

The Habibi Center family has dealt with many bumps in the road but, although our project is small, it is also very strong. This family wants to keep fighting until the institutions, organizations and governments take responsibility for this humanitarian crisis and start making efficient decisions.

Habibi Center needs your support in this battle.

Habibi Virtual School

It is always a hard time, emotionally speaking, for both our volunteachers, when they go back home, and the students, when they are relocated to a different place. Are my students going to be properly looked after after my departure? The first part might think. Am I going to keep learning and attending some lessons in my new city? The second part could think, instead.

Nothing can be done to maintain the direct contact but nothing should stop us to carry on with the learning activities of our students. That is the reason why since the 26th of March 2016 HABIBI VIRTUAL SCHOOL came to life, in order to ensure that none of our students misses any single day of school.

Habibi Virtual School is Habibi Center’s online school. It basically makes possible a communication between teachers and students despite staying miles away from each other. From a student point of view, they are able to find improved lessons and some other interactive information available. In addition, this space is also helping improve their computer skills and confidence as, unlike being face to face with their teachers, they will have to make their own decisions until their teachers find a few minutes of their time to answer back. From the teachers’ side, this online space helps improve the quality of student’s evaluation and evolution.

Despite the use of this tool, Habibi Center still wants to give priority to the classic “learning by hand” way. Therefore, it has been stipulated that students have to download or preview online the required task to be done, then go through it and work it by hand with physical pen and paper and, once completed, upload that information back into the platform so that the teacher can check and evaluate.

Habibi Center is so happy to tackle another problem for our family by running this new Virtual School.

Next Stop: Athens

Facing this new reality of being no longer needed in Epirus region, a new stage for this project had to be evaluated. After considering the pros and cons of several options, we came across with what was thought to be the most sensible and rational one.

Once the center in Eleousa was shut down, it was prudently decided that the next stage of Habibi Center were going to be placed in Athens. One of the main reasons for this decision was because a large group of yazidi students, around 50, who used to attend the classes in Eleousa, was relocated to the capital city of Greece.

It was very painful to say goodbye to those students and their families as we all became really close to each other. In fact, these yazidi students were one of the main reasons, if not the main one, why Habibi Center was placed in Eleousa, to give them the chance of attending our classes from their quite isolated refugee camp in Faneromeni. Therefore, having that close relationship as well as knowing that upon their relocation to Athens, once again they were left without any educational project covered, we decided to move there and continue supporting this Yazidi youth.

Habibi Center has gained some experience about how to adequately run and organise lessons. Unfortunately, some other facts had to start from scratch, such as being familiar with the city and adapt as soon as possible to it, finding new volunteers to join our project, finding a new space where we could carry out our learning activities and properly adapt it, always taking into consideration our limited budget.

They still need all the possible help from Habibi Center’s family. Would you like to be part of it?

Farewell Eleousa

After successfully running the Habibi Center in Eleousa, our support was no longer needed in Epirus region since last January 2017 as some other organisations eventually decided to run some educational projects for the youth who had been attending our centre and still staying in that region.

It wasn’t an easy decision to say goodbye to a place where our project was welcome with wide open arms from the very beginning. We cannot ignore what ELEOUSA means in Greek: TENDERNESS, SHOWING MERCY.

We had a feeling that we had made a good choice when we chose this small village on the outskirts of Ioannina to become our operations centre. Time definitely proved us right.

Everyone there, with no exception, was determined to help in any possible way: facilitating the spaces where to run our learning activities, helping readapt them for our purposes, donating material stuff to all parts – centre, volunteers and students-, facilitating other spaces such as a football pitch to run some sportive activities, and, way above all the previously described, treating and considering the attending students as new neighbours, without refugee tags in front. All those features perfectly matched with our principles as educational and integrative project.

Habibi Center would like to express its gratitude for all the hospitality of the people of Eleousa, without that help and support Habibi Center would not have been able to be what it is at present.

All the members of this project who lived that experience, including both volunteers and students, will surely have some space in our memories to remember this tiny but lovely place.

Welcome to HABIBI CENTER’s website

After a lot of hard work, Habibi Center is delighted to introduce our official website.

Firstly, the Team would like to THANK everyone who has contributed to creating this space. You all have become part of this warm and increasing family. Σας ευχαριστώ πάρα πολύ!!

This website has been created for all the people who supported us in the past, the ones who are supporting us at the present, for others who will be keen to do so in the future, and for our students and their families. You all deserve to have a common space where you can feel closer to each other, to know what is going on with Habibi Center, and to see that your contribution is definitely worth it.

Some updates about the recent and future events of the project, some important breaking news about this humanitarian crisis and any sort of information related to Habibi Center will be posted. Moreover, the Habibi Center facebook page will be running and spilling information, as usual.

This is not intended to be a one-way communication as you are not the only ones looking forward to hearing information. We are also very interested in knowing the reasons why our contributors are helping us out. Thus, we might possibly contact any of you at some point and ask you write to us about your personal experience.

The Habibi Center team wishes you to enjoy our new common online space. Please, keep helping us and spread the word by telling you family and friends what we all are doing.