On the shore – En la orilla

We present to you ON THE SHORE, a book written by Fernando Del Berro:

“What is the line after which a refugee who flees from war feels safe for first time?

Here is my book ON THE SHORE: photos and an extensive report with testimonies and texts collected in the Greek island of Lesvos.

100% of the profit from the sale will go to the rescue NGO Proactiva Open Arms, which is one of the few organizations that continue saving lives every day in the Mediterranean.

Price: 25 euros (£22 – $30) + shipping costs

Language: English (the book showed in video is Spanish version, but an English version is available)

Interested contact me by personal message or e-mail:”

Fernando del Berro

– – –

Os presentamos EN LA ORILLA, un libro escrito por Fernando del Berro:

“¿Cuál es esa línea tras la cual un refugiado que huye de la guerra se siente a salvo por primera vez?

EN LA ORILLA, un libro con fotografías, textos y testimonios recogidos en la isla griega de Lesbos

El 100% de beneficios de venta irán para la ONG de salvamento marítimo Proactiva Open Arms, que es de las pocas organizaciones que continúan salvando vidas diariamente en el Mediterráneo.

Precio: 20 euros + gastos envío

Idioma: castellano (o inglés -25 euros-)

Interesad@s contactadme por mensaje personal o vía e-mail:”

Fernando del Berro

News from Athina 10.02.2018

It’s been a few months since the last update. The reason is not because Habibi Center is vanishing. On the contrary, the teachers in the centre keep working as hard as usual preparing new lessons and different activities so that our hard-working students can enjoy their learning.

As always, the team is so pleased to see that students who have grown alongside Habibi Center from the very beginning are already in their next stage of this process of gaining a safer and prosperous present and future in Europe. All the best Sally, Genar, Sana, Janan, Raeda, Layla M. Mona, Ahlam M., Maher A., Saher, Nizar, Nazdar, Mazin M., Nawzad, Raid, Rana, Hannah Y., Berzo, Nahla, Layla, Shirin, Mayada, Esma, Maher M., and all their families in your new countries. We miss you so much!

The Habibi Center hasn’t stopped there, though! Although some of the students named above set the bar high, the current ones are pushing even harder. We’d also like to use these lines to congratulate Jasmine, Nargis, Maher M., Xiao Song, Mahmood B., Nashaat, Layla M., Ahlam M. and Raid who took KET and PET exams last November. You guys worked hard and your effort was rewarded with very good scores and certifications. One A1, six A2, and two B1 CEFR level in English language were achieved.

We also send tones of positive energy as 6 students have some tough weeks ahead before attending the PET and KET exams in March. The immeasurable effort of this youth is the reason why Habibi Center keeps being a reality.

Once again, a big THANK you to all Habibi Family for your massive support.

Thank you my teacher!

One of the phrases that has affectionately imprinted in the memory of the majority of our volunteers after their experience in Habibi Center is “THANK YOU MY TEACHER!”

What the students could never imagine is that this magic relationship that we volunteers have with them might just be because we also consider them our teachers. We have come to realise that they are also teaching us good things in life. It’s impossible for volunteers not to be infected by their determination to learn new things every day, with their hunger for achieving their aspirations of becoming a professional, and their ability to overcome difficult situations.

Maybe the key to this successful relationship is that both parts work at the same level of humbleness. Inside the school everyone is aware that one of us can be better at doing one thing but weaker at others. This is not something negative. Our strengths keep us ready to help another person with their difficulties and our weaknesses keep us teachable and willing to listen to the explanation about that which we struggle to grasp. Regarding extra scholar situations, we all, as a family, support each other when anyone of us is experiencing happy and optimistic news or has rough and difficult days.

In Habibi Center, our essential interpretation of the word EDUCATION is everybody pushing each other to become better, happier, and remaining calm by knowing that you have many caring friends (habibis) around you to lean on. We will support you and encourage you whenever you need it, even when you think we won’t. This type of education should be spread worldwide, but this is not something taught from a book, it can only be learnt from experience, and we, the volunteers, have learnt it from being here with you habibis.

This time, we, the volunteers, want to say something to our students:


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.