human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Through the lens of a refugee

Traveling photo exhibition raises awareness about life as a refugee

The photo exhibition ‘My city, Athens…‘ continues its ‘journey’ to various areas, spreading Caritas’ spirit and raising awareness about the refugee crisis.

In July and August 2018, the volunteer group of Caritas Hellas ‘Young Caritas in Action’ implemented its first initiative on a national level. Following the successful implementation of the photo exhibition “My city, Athens…” in Athens, young volunteers from all over Greece decided to ‘travel’ the photo works of 28 refugees and asylum seekers, aged between 16 and 41, from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Ukraine, Pakistan, and Ghana to Chania, Crete. The cultural activity took place at the Catholic Church of Chania, supported by the diocesan Caritas Reggio Calabria-Bova (Italy).

The exhibits were the fruit of a 3-month Educational Photography Seminar, held by Caritas Hellas at Neos Kosmos Social Spot, in Athens. The Seminar was part of ‘METAVASIS Project – Participation, Empowerment and Social Inclusion of Refugees/Migrants in Greece‘ concerning the support and integration of refugees and immigrants in Greek society, implemented by Caritas Hellas and funded by the German Foreign Ministry and Caritas Germany. The ultimate purpose of the Seminar was to help eliminate social exclusion by cultivating social skills in an open environment of creative effort and integration through intercultural education.

The theme the participants were asked to photograph was the city where they live in; the way they experience their new reality and the way they see the architecture of their city. Through the ‘clicks’, 28 refugees and asylum seekers, the ‘photographers of Caritas Hellas’ shared with us their journey, their own thoughts, pictures and moments in Athens.

‘Young Caritas in Action’ had the opportunity to exhibit the works of the photography group to an international audience, in Crete, presenting an alternative image of refugees. After the successful completion of the activity, the journey continued in October 2018, in Athens, at Caritas Hellas Center of Social Integration and Employability, in the Kypseli Municipal Market, the first social entrepreneurial market in Greece.

The next station of the journey was Tinos: in August 2019, the Cultural Center ‘Saint Antonios’ was pleased to host the exhibition at its premises. For one more time, our young volunteers -this time in collaboration with Caritas Naxos-Tinos- completed their important mission very successfully. The volunteer activity in Tinos was supported by the Fellowship of the Least Coin, a global ecumenical movement of prayer for Justice, Peace and Reconciliation.

Through these social orientated initiatives, the local community as well as many people from Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Canada, England, Australia, Poland, Spain, Scotland, Switzerland, Philippines and other countries were informed about the refugee crisis, the multifaceted work of Caritas Hellas and its dynamic response to the needs which  have emerged due to the refugee flows since 2015. Moreover, the volunteers were given the opportunity to promote Caritas’ spirit and volunteering, raise awareness and break stereotypes about refugees.

The activities took place in the context of Caritas Internationalis’ campaign ‘Share the Journey‘, where Pope Francis invites all people to come together, coexist, share experiences and build a global community of respect and solidarity, through the “Culture of Encounter”.

‘Young Caritas in Action’ are delighted to have participated in this cultural project, meeting an international audience and raising awareness about social issues. Of course, they are eager to add more stations to this ‘journey’ of hope, in Greece or overseas, always spreading the Message of Love.

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