We’re a group of 7 students from Erasmus University College in Rotterdam, Netherlands. We first came together when one of us pitched an idea to undertake for a self-selected project in our honours programme, but it has become a lot more than that. Eventually, another two students at our university joined in.
The project was inspired by Alaeddin Jnaed, a refugee who was once part of the Syrian revolution for freedom. When he fell into a state of despair after the experiences of the war, having to flee and live as a refugee, it took him on a personal mission. He returned to Greece to brighten the lives of the children living in refugee camps he was once a part of. He would go through camps to play music, watch movies, and do arts and crafts with the children of all ages. His vehicle eventually got named Happy Caravan. Fast-forward to today, and Happy Caravan is now a renowned refugee school that he coordinates from his home in the Netherlands. It became a full-fledged refugee school based in Greece that provides an education in basic Math, English, Arts/Crafts, and Cinema to kids from the age of 4 to 14 in the Thermopyles camp north of Athens.
Despite the amazing growth that the organization has undergone, there are still several social issues left to be tackled in the camp. Teenagers cannot be accommodated in the curriculum, because there are too many children, and not enough resources. Women live a very limited lifestyle with the culture prohibiting them the same freedoms to leave the camp, with little opportunity to socialize. Additionally, there are far too many children to be accommodated within the school. This is where we come in as ‘Happy Container‘.
We are working as a separate entity to find ways to further expand Happy Caravan’s vision to enrich the lives of the people of this camp. For this reason we have recently traveled to the camp to ask the fundamental question of what would actually help them. Finally, we will establish a community centre inside an office container, where we will provide activities to solve three issues:
- It will serve as a women’s centre, so that every day, women will have at least a programme where they can socialize and perform activities together so that the days can become lighter.
- The teenagers will have an education programme that will be better tailored towards their needs and interests and will be given more individual attention.
- Finally, we will manage the overload of kids in the camp by providing them with extracurricular activities which can be done alongside their usual curriculum, ranging from computer classes, drama/theatre, and many other possibilities.
We will be working very hard in to make sure that this project is completed by summer 2019. But we desperately need your help. We are students and we need generous people who share our vision to help us make this community centre a reality. Every little bit truly counts in this case because this is the first time we are undertaking a project on this scale, and we have to do it alongside our university education. It costs a lot of time and energy, but the reward of seeing some people’s lives improve even slightly truly keeps us going. If you share our passion to help others, we kindly ask you to donate. If you are financially unable to support us but have some other ways you can contribute to helping this project, please get in touch!