Mosaik Support Center: Ein Mosaik an Persönlichkeiten im Herzen der Stadt

Das Mosaik Support Center ist das erste Kultur- und Bildungszentrum für Geflüchtete. Es ist seit diesem Juli in Mytilini, der Hauptstadt der Insel Lesvos, in Betrieb.
Mit täglichen Unterrichtsstunden in griechisch und englisch, und arabisch für die Freiwilligen im Center, mit Workshops für Weben, erschaffen von verschiedenen Produkten aus recycelten Materialien, wie zum Beispiel Rettungswesten, und einem starken Team, das legale Unterstützung bietet, stellte sich das Mosaik Center als das hilfsreichste center in der Stadt heraus. Ein kostbares und wichtiges Teilchen im großen Mosaik der Integration.

Mosaik Support Center: A Mosaic of Personalities in the Heart of the City

By Natasha Papanikolaou

Oscar Wilde professed the following enigmatic view: the majority of 
people are other people. This eccentric cipher lends itself to diverse 
interpretations. One of them is that every human being constitutes a 
mosaic of multiple identities which issue forth according to 
circumstance. It is thus also with the refugee. He is not only a person 
escaping from war; in parallel, he can be a father of two children, a 
teacher, a sports fan, an animal lover. He might even have been the 
greatest collector of music records in his city. A case in point is that 
of the 19 year-old Sham from Pakistan. On the footprints of his 
compatriot Afzal Shauq's The Peace Wisher, Sham writes the most 
impressive poems for his age. Together with Ali Reza, film director from 
Iran, they are active at the Mosaik Support Center, the first cultural 
and educational center for refugees, which has been in operation since 
this July, in Mytilini, the capital of the island of Lesvos.

With daily lessons in Greek and English, and Arabic for the volunteers 
working at the center, with weaving workshops, the creation of various 
products from recycled materials, such as life jackets, and a very 
strong team offering legal services, the Mosaik Support Center, on 
Sappho Street, turned out to be a most useful center in the city, a 
precious and important tile in the large mosaic of integration.

Away from the refugee camps, the center operates in a renovated 
historical house built in 1868 -- a date ingrained in the impressive 
mosaic of white and black pebbles , which dominates the entrance to the 
building. Here, the refugees confined on our island, rediscover their 
forgotten multiple identities and cultivate the arts and passions that 
once made them citizens of this world.

"With the signing of Europe' s agreement with Turkey, we had to 
reconsider the framework of our work with the refugees. In the 
beginning, we catered to the needs of people who stayed only for a few 
days on the island. However, after the "deal" with Turkey, the situation 
changed. We understood that the processing of applications for asylum 
and, consequently, decisions on eventual deportations would take 
considerable time. As a result, the people who reached Lesvos would have 
to spend a substantial time here. They do not want to stay in Greece. 
They want to go to Germany and Sweden. They are "stuck" here, however, 
and they need to adapt to the local society and understand its language. 
This is what we were told by Chloe Haralambous, member of 
Borderline-Europe which, together with Lesvos Solidarity-Pikpa, 
undertook the creation of Mosaik.

Following major steps taken in the previous months by a number of 
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who are supporting unaccompanied 
minors and aim at their smooth insertion in their new environment, as 
well as the good work carried out by the hospitality center of Kara 
Tepe, Mosaik' s engagement with the refugees is sustained by the people 
of Mytilini, in spite of the critical times they face.

"From the very beginning," explains again Chloe Haralambous, "we came in 
touch with the people of the neighborhood. We shopped from the near-by 
market and took advantage of the contacts we made in order to give 
information as to our activities and aims. We faced minimal problems. 
Furthermore, a number of women who give lessons or take care of the 
children of students during their classes are from the island. We really 
aspired to that: having local people engage with the question of the 
refugees in their city. We equally aspired to bringing the refugees into 
the city, into a space totally different from the camps so that, for a 
few hours, they can exist not as refugees and come in contact with the 
local community."

The program of Mosaik, to which 400 people have already registered, is 
open to everyone, on the condition that they attend regularly and apply 
themselves. Transportation is undertaken by public transport busses and 
discounted tickets provided to the student refugees by Doctors Without 
Borders in collaboration with Mosaik.

"We would also like to work with people from Moria," continues Chloe 
Haralambous. "We hope to attract single adult men who constitute the 
largest number of refugees, especially, since there are many NGOs and 
structures who serve unaccompanied minors and families."

Nevertheless, as it is usual with every cultural center, the women made 
their presence felt. "The truth is that we are full of women and babies, 
who were the first to arrive. This is the reason we allocated a special 
space to take care of infants and small children while their parents 
attend classes. Additionally, many people come to Mosaik to obtain legal 
assistance and advice from the recently formed Lesvos Legal Group, 
headed by Carlos Orjuela who says, "we are here to offer our services to 
whoever needs them and to inform them about issues regarding requests 
for asylum."

"Our aim is to collect funds so that those working at Mosaik are paid. 
Volunteers come and go," adds Chloe who is soon to leave for New York in 
search of donors to promote the work of Mosaik.

Chloe, whose origin is from Molyvos, has been on the island ever since 
the summer of 2015 and has witnessed, from the very beginning, the drama 
of the refugees who landed on the shores of Lesvos as well as the 
fluctuations in the attitudes of the local communities regarding this 
drama. "There is a great suspicion and skepticism towards the NGOs. From 
my experience in the village of Kleio and at the Kolios cheese factory, 
I understood that the reaction of the people was not so much against the 
refugees, but against the northern Europeans who "invaded" the island 
through the NGOs, a situation they considered hypocritical when 
juxtaposed to the official positions of Europe and Greece' s place therein."

This Friday, Mosaik is organizing a celebration for the people of the 
neighborhood. "I might read some of my poems," says Ali Reza, who is 
working on an adaptation of "Waiting for Godot" transforming it to 
"Waiting for Asylum" . "We will organize a party for the people of the 
neighborhood who have helped so much. Last time, when we organized a 
talent show a lot of people showed up, 'some hanging over the rails of 
the gate. It was great," says the Iranian playwright who is also one of 
the translators of the center.

Read the article in greek or simply watch the pictures, online:

More about Mosaik, article in greek:

Sprache(n): Englisch / English