Based on the success of the 2017 Service Learning program for college students, the Greek America Foundation is launching a Family Service Learning program for high school or college-aged students and their parents in 2018 in Lesvos, Greece.
The program is organized by the New York City-based foundation, together with their local partners on the ground in Lesvos, a social welfare organization called Iliaktida that provides accommodation, protection, and services to vulnerable populations in Lesvos, Northern Greece, and Athens.
This will be the third time the Greek America Foundation returns to the island in recent years. In 2017, two fishermen’s boats were repaired after they were destroyed by winter storms. That same year, more than $50,000 was raised to alleviate the suffering of residents of the earthquake-stricken village of Vrisa.
The program will offer participants the opportunity to engage meaningfully with refugee children and families under the aegis of the Iliaktida support system. Specifically, the participants will volunteer at two Iliaktida facilities:
The Gekko School for Unaccompanied Minors which provides language, arts, athletics, and IT instruction. Volunteers will assist the teachers and support staff with learning modules and daily activities.
The new Blue Dot Children and Family Support Hub located close to the Moria refugee camp. Blue Dot hubs are an initiative of the UN High Commission on Refugees and the European Commission which aim to provide recreation, social and medical support and advice for mothers with babies and small children or unaccompanied refugee children.
The program’s mission is to promote volunteerism, self-growth, and cross-cultural understanding among Greek-American high school and college students and their parents while supporting vulnerable children in Greece.
High school students must participate in the program accompanied by a parent or a legal guardian assigned by a parent. College students 18 years or older do not need supervision.
The program begins with arrivals in Lesvos on July 1, 2018 and concludes on Sunday, July 22. The structured program includes most meals, hotel accommodations at a four-star hotel every night (double occupancy), transportation to and from the volunteer centers and some excursions on the island during the weekends.
According to a statement from the Greek America Foundation, the program the program will begin with an orientation that will cover the refugee crisis in Europe and in Greece and Lesvos specifically. Participants will be introduced to the political, social, and psychological factors involved.
Photo from Facebook page of Gekko kids.