human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Celebrating African culture together

loving our neighbors

On Thursday 14 November, the Municipal Market of Kipseli neighborhood in Athens hosted a very special event. The idea for the event came from the men’s psychosocial empowerment group of Caritas Hellas Center for Social Integration and Employability in Kipseli Market.

The group was set up in June 2019, at the initiative of the Center’s Social Services Officer. It consists of 18 vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers originating from African countries, who are or have gone through particularly bad experiences either in their home country or during their difficult journey to Europe. These people, having previously faced very difficult conditions, are now called upon to manage a rather difficult reality. Therefore, they are trying to turn this reality into a sustainable everyday life, which in the long run they will be able to transform into a deeper and meaningful integration into the neighborhood, the local community and finally the Greek society.

As part of this effort, on Thursday 14 of November an African celebration was organised within the Municipal Market of Kipseli by the psychosocial empowerment group of Caritas Hellas. The program included music, dance, presentations of traditional costumes and recipes, and games from various African countries. All the activities were organised by the group’s members, while the staff of the Center was responsible for the overall coordination. The celebration ended with African rhythms, a music performance by George Fassolis and students of the Kabeiria Percussion Music School. The event was highly attended as people from the neighborhood, members of local African communities, younger and older populations enthusiastically watched and participated in the event, coming together under the sounds of music.

The event took place in the context of the worldwide campaign “Share the Journey” that is carried out by the Caritas network internationally. The “Share the journey” campaign aims to tackle xenophobic reactions towards refugee and migrant populations, as well as negative perceptions that are often shaped by a sense of fear that something “foreign”, “unknown” may cause. It therefore seeks to build channels of communication between members of multicultural societies, to build networks of communities and neighborhoods, with a view to creating a welcoming environment for these new coming populations and maximum cohesion throughout society.

This was precisely the target of the men of the Kipseli psychosocial empowerment group on that day, through a small but decisive step: to invite people of the Kipseli neighborhood, their own neighborhood, to try to get to know each other better, to share with them their customs and traditions, their ethnic costumes, their tastes and recipes, their music and songs. To show that if one takes the time to stand and look a little closer, behind the anonymous numbers of a humanitarian crisis, behind the lowered and frightened looks, one will get to know people with whom one shares much more similarities than differences, and the things that can really unite them are much more than the ones that separate them.

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Aspasia Zouliati

Local Coordinator
Center for Social Intergration and Employability
Caritas Hellas

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