Posted by: thebluemusicblog | March 17, 2017


It was interesting to visit the largest refugee camp in the North Greece. I am impressed with the way Greece has handled the refugee crisis. Several hundreds of the former inhabitants in this camp have either moved north inEurope or being relocated to apartments in Thessaloniki. There were only 310 refugees left in this camp, but nobody really know when the next wave of refugees will arrive. A lot depends on the development between Turkey and the EU.

Above you see the director of this camp, a very interesting young man with welcoming words to us representing the YMCA. At the side of Lisa another Greec employee at the camp.

The camp used to consist of a number of tents, but the standard had come up and most of the refugees live in containers. in a few months there will be built 120 real homes on the field at the one side of the camp.

There are separate areas only for women in the camp, as well as prayer rooms for different religions. as you can see above there is also an Orthodox chapel built for the camp. Here are no refugees from Syria. apart from 8 people from Pakistan all are from Afghanistan.

Paris, the Vice President of Thessaloniki YMCA is holding the welcoming speech at the official opening of the World YMCA Refugee Office in Thessaloniki.

Next are two young Orthodox Priests praying for and blessing the office.

National TV was present as well and covered the event.

Lisa Kalivatsi, the Refugee Secretary of the World YMCA, now officially located in Thessaloniki.

John from REACT and Henry from Syria. Henry has decorated the window in our Refugee office, and he has been very active in the REACT programme here in the YMCA, playing theatre together with actor John. Henry and I got to know one another, and then he introduced me to his sister and his parents.

The whole family of Henry plus REACT members. Henry and family are on their way to the Netherlands in a few days. Any YMCA connections there?

Ingunn and Lisa in Athens next day. After interesting and full days in Thessaloniki we flew down to Athens to visit the National YMCA in Greece and Athens YMCA.

Nikos Bibiris is an old friend from my time in YMCA Europe. it was a real pleasure to reconnect with Nikos and we had lunch together with him and two board members. The conversation was stimulating. What is the position of the YMCA in the world today? What are the development trends we have to deal with? How do we regard Islam today? The refugee crisis?

The chapel on the top floor of the YMCA building in Athens has as its central motive Jesus as 12 years old in the temple of Jerusalem.

The word “Souvlaki” in the title of this blogpost indicates that it is not only about the Refugee Office. It is also a photographic walk through some interesting spots in Athens. I could not resist this outcry for peace!

Utterly beautiful, isn’t it? It is a sin to walk past such a picture without grabbing it.

Just around that beautiful window I found this rather pitoresque signpost to Acropolis.

This is Blue Music, or at least Blue Soccer!

This is simply for contemplation.

Like this aristocratic cat was doing in the spring sun.

Back to more serious work. After an inspiring lunch downtown we say goodbye to Joannis and go for a visit to Nikes branch in the outskirts of Athens.

To the far left here is Lefteris, the Vice Mayor of the Nikea Municipality and the physical instruction director for the local YMCA. The man to the right is the chief of the Air Force Military Police in Athens and a veteran volunteer at the YMCA.

The Colonelfro the Air Force, his brother and Lefteris, a great politician and YMCA leader, they all are!

Here we are photographed together with the Special Olympic team in the YMCA.

Here with the Managing Director of the Nikea YMCA, professor in Theology and a great local YMCA leader.

In the late evening the Vice Mayor of Nikea, Lefteris, asked if we were interested in visiting a nearby refugee camp where the YMCA and the municipality of Nikea had plans for some activities. We accepted the invitation, and accompanied by the colonel who is the chief of the Air Force Military Police for all Athens, we had no problems in getting access and be showed around by two staff.

Again we saw a well regulated camp in good conditions. in this camp there were more than thirty unaccompanied minors – a great responsibility for the employees.
Acropolis is residing majestically over Athens and we are walking on and in and through history wherever we turn our steps. The Greec society is continously in a deep financial crisis. Still the population is able to demonstrate hospitality and solidarity with other people in difficult situations. The World YMCA is grateful that we are being invited in by our Greec friends to learn from them and to collaborate with them for the good for the refugees, especially the young ones.

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