(The story behind AAfG’s 18 Dec event).
Painting the future: KETHEA MOSAIC’S intervention at the Juvenile Detention Centre of Amigdaleza-Athens
«Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way»
“Seeking meaning in life and in freedom at a detention camp”
UNAUTHORIZED ENTRANCE OF IMMIGRANTS IN GREECE
Greece, is a European country that, due to its geographical location, receives a large amount of immigrants-refuges every year. Most of the immigrant-refuges are seeking asylum and transference into other EU States, however, due to the Dublin Regulation they are confronted with very serious restrictions and prohibitions. According to official data released by the Greek Police, the first 10 months of 2014, a number of 64.996 people were arrested on the grounds of unauthorized immigration, whilst in 2013 the number was 35.719 arrests.
KETHEA (Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals) is the largest rehabilitation and social reintegration network in Greece. It has been providing its services to drug addicts and their families since 1983 and offers drug free services. Its services are offered free of charge on the street and in prisons and rehabilitation units around Greece. KETHEA also helps people suffering from other forms of addiction including alcohol, gambling and the Internet. KETHEA also runs school and community-based prevention and early intervention programmes, and is active in training and research in the field of addiction.
KETHEA MOSAIC Intercultural transitional non residential programme
The KETHEA MOSAIC Centre seeks to facilitate the social integration of migrants and refugees (drug users and not) since 2003 in Athens. In doing so, it introduces therapeutic principles (such as self-help, mutual help and self-management) into the psycho-social support services it provides. Its services offers prevention and counselling on health care, work, family relationships, legal procedures, racism, delinquency, drug abuse, violence and marginalisation. Also it offers family support, individual and group counselling and education.
In June 2013 until June 2014, ΚΕTHΕΑ MOSAIC attained a project of Primary and Secondary Prevention at the Juvenile Detention Centre of Amigdaleza-Athens. Mainly, our actions involved: Greek language teaching, sport activities, educational and animating activities through the use of art, support and prevention groups as well as individual meetings and counselling. The frequency of our intervention was 2 to 3 times per week.
Living conditions at the detention centre were pretty harsh. Most of the juveniles, were unaware of their detention time there (a maximum time of 18 months was set, whilst in some cases this time was described as indefinite) and serious communication issues were apparent. Only half of our time there were we assigned a translator and that was only in Arabic, excluding thus people of other languages. Hygiene conditions were also poor, ventilation and heating system was not adequate and the centre did not have permanent medical staff. Apart from the “technical” issues most of the juveniles were confronted with high stress and psychological vulnerability, being away from their families or having escaped from war zones .
Despite all these difficulties, we tried and remained focused on one of our primer targets and that was to create and maintain-were possible- strong human bonds. Moreover, our goal was to provide (with the help of other NGOs, like The Red Cross, Praksis) a comfort zone were juveniles could play, entertain themselves, gain new stimuli and “leave” -at least for a while- their problems aside. This is also the feedback we gratefully received from juveniles that were released from the detention centre and later moved into guests’ houses or elsewhere. Finally, with our actions and through this tough but rewarding for us experience we tried to provide a glimpse of hope and vision at a time of crisis and despair.
The last day of our project, in cooperation with the Social Services of the Juvenile Detention Centre of Amigdaleza and with the aid of Ecumenical Refugee Program/ERP we actualized a big “celebration” for the juveniles. In this context, they were given the chance to participate at a painting workshop and express themselves freely. The theme of the workshop was “painting my future” and these paintings provide the material for this exhibition entitled “Help me”.
“Help me”! A call for help from juveniles that strive to get out of prison, to travel to other countries seeking a better future, to re-unite with their families, to endure the harsh conditions, to learn Greek and finally to be given an equal chance to realize their dreams!
“Painting my future” started here in Athens, at a Detention Centre, only to travel in London and then further away with an aspiration and great hope to make the voices of these juveniles heard beyond borders and restrictions.