Tag Archives: Lesvos

Habiba and her son read together

Remembering our Patron – finding peace in books

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was our Patron for 55 years. He was a great reader who believed in the power of books, so this week we are remembering him by sharing stories of people who used books to change their lives.

Habiba and her two children were forced to flee conflict in Afghanistan after her husband was killed. After a long and perilous journey, they arrived on the island of Lesvos in Greece. She and her children have since been moved to a camp outside the city of Ioannis in northern Greece where they have access to a library filled with books you have helped to send. Here, Habiba shares her experiences and tells us of the positive difference that books are making for her and her children as they seek to rebuild their lives.

 

Habiba
Habiba

 

“I have come from Afghanistan and I have two children. My son is five and my daughter is 10.

In my country there was war. My husband was not a soldier. He went out and he did not come back. Some people killed him. And for my son – it was dangerous. People wanted to take him. So I had to leave, I had to find a safe place for the children.

I travelled through my country to Iran then to here. It was very hard to come so far and travel alone with two children.

We arrived in Greece four months ago. We stayed in Moira [the refugee reception centre on the island of Lesvos] for three months. It was very bad – all the people so close together. There was so much noise, so much stress. I did not sleep at all at night. It was very scary.

 

Camp
Habiba and her children have been moved to a new camp where they have access to a library

 

But now we have moved camps, things are more calm. This camp is very good – it is quiet and I can come to the library. It is a very good library.

 

Choosing books to read
Habiba has come to the library to choose books for her son and herself

 

Today I have borrowed two books – one for my son who is five years old. It is about Poppy Cat. The story is good for my son. I think for my children storybooks and alphabet books are good. These will help them learn English.

 

Reading together in the library
Habiba believes it is important to read books in English with her son as it will help him learn the language

 

The other book I have borrowed is for me. It is a book of poetry – it’s a great book. These poems are very nice! I think the books are very good for me – for my heart. Books are very good for relaxation.

When I lived in Afghanistan I had so many books in my library! I had many cookbooks. You should send some cookbooks! I love cooking. I would like to learn to cook new things.

I have a lot of hope for my children’s future – that there will be no war. Just peace.”

 

Zizzis teaching

Refugee voices: Zizzis

Zizzis works as an English teacher in Mosaik’s support centre on the Greek island of Lesvos.

Lesvos is home to approximately 8,000 displaced people who remain here as they wait for their asylum requests to be processed. Much humanitarian aid in Lesvos focuses on basic needs such as food, shelter and clothes but there is little for people to stimulate their minds and break the tedium.

Mosaik therefore exists to provide a space away from the camp and give access to classes, workshops other events.

Zizzis tells us more about his work and how he believes education and access to books can enable people to keep learning and living while they wait.

 

Zizzis teaching
Zizzis uses books you help to send to support the lessons he teaches

I’m from Athens but I lived in Paris for 10 years. I decided to move back to Greece with my family and chose to come to Lesvos. I came when the refugee crisis started in 2015. Given that the economic situation on the island was difficult, it seemed logical to work with an NGO.

I find working with refugees really interesting – I get to know people from around the world. It is incredible. In the three years I have worked with refuges I’ve met people from every corner of the world – and not only refugees! Also NGO people come and go.

Mosaic library
Mosaik’s library is filled with books you help to send!

None of our students stay here for very long. Lesvos is a transit centre so we don’t have the same students for more than six or eight months. And yet when they leave they are completely different.

Initially, it is not easy for them. They want to leave Moria [the refugee reception centre of Lesvos which they cannot leave until they have been granted asylum]. But bit by bit they get to know us, they get used to Mosaik and they relax.

They come to the lessons, the workshops and the activities and all of a sudden you realise that these people are absorbing enormous amounts of information and knowledge. Coming here, they find a community and some kind of normality. They get the feeling that they belong somewhere again.

Before we had books from Book Aid International we were struggling with photocopies – we didn’t have any materials.

We didn’t have the money. I bought my own books initially. But after the donation from Book Aid International I had a lot of materials in the library that I can use in my classes. It’s much easier for me to teach English now.

Once the primary needs of food and shelter and food for displaced people are met you need more.

You need something to remind you that you are a still a human being. So I think that books and literature are essential for refugees.

It helps them remember that they are free human beings with independent personalities.

 

Habiba and her son read together

Finding peace in books

Habiba and her two children were forced to flee conflict in Afghanistan after her husband was killed.  After a long and perilous journey, they arrived on the island of Lesvos in Greece four months ago. She and her children have since been moved to a camp outside the city of Ioannis in northern Greece where they have access to a library filled with books you have helped to send.

Here, Habiba shares her experiences and tells us of the positive difference that books are making for her and her children as they seek to rebuild their lives.

 

Habiba
Habiba

 

I have come from Afghanistan and I have two children. My son is five and my daughter is 10.

In my country there was war. My husband was not a solider. He went out and he did not come back. Some people killed him. And for my son – it was dangerous. People wanted to take him. So I had to leave, I had to find a safe place for the children.

I travelled through my country to Iran then to here. It was very hard to come so far and travel alone with two children.

We arrived in Greece four months ago. We stayed in Moira [the refugee reception centre on the island of Lesvos] for three months. It was very bad – all the people so close together. There was so much noise, so much stress. I did not sleep at all at night. It was very scary.

 

Camp
Habiba and her children have been moved to a new camp where they have access to a library

 

But now we have moved camps, things are more calm. This camp is very good – it is quiet and I can come to the library. It is a very good library.

 

Choosing books to read
Habiba has come to the library to choose books for her son and herself

 

Today I have borrowed two books – one for my son who is five years old. It is about Poppy Cat. The story is good for my son. I think for my children story books and alphabet books are good. These will help them learn English.

 

Reading together in the library
Habiba believes it is important to read books in English with her son as it will help him learn the language

 

The other book I have borrowed is for me. It is a book of poetry – it’s a great book. These poems are very nice! I think the books are very good for me – for my heart. Books are very good for relaxation.

When I lived in Afghanistan I had so many books in my library! I had many cook books. You should send some cook books! I love cooking. I would like to learn to cook new things.

I have a lot of hope for my children’s future – that there will be no war. Just peace.