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Category: Education

All the blog posts about education and stuff
EducationGreeceHumanitarian AidWomen & Children

Education Centers Report

Our program coordinator for our Women and Children’s Programs in Greece, Rasha, submitted this report of her activities to date in setting up the new schools in two of the camps in Northern Greece.

Subject: SCM Educational Component in Northern Greece Refugee Camps (06/2016-08/2016)
Reported by: Rasha A.

Frakapor: Registration for this learning center site began about one week after my arrival to Greece. I conducted a tent-to-tent survey of school aged children (ages 5-18 yrs). Children with special needs were also reported. The learning center opened the following week. The site was not ideal for holding classes, but it was the only option as Save the Children refused to hand over or even share their site for SCM volunteers to hold classes. Therefore SCM volunteers worked with what they could to make the open site conducive to a proper learning space. Money raised by volunteers and donated by SCM itself was used to finance the needs of the center, including the purchase of notebooks and pencil packets (pencils, eraser, sharpener) for each child that attended, as well as small/large whiteboards, floor mats, etc.

Classes were arranged by the following age groups:
5-7 yrs
8-10 yrs
11-13 yrs
14+ yrs

Classes for 5-10 yr olds ran one hour (two – 30 minute subject sessions) daily.
Classes for 11+ yrs ran for 1.5 hrs (two – 45 minute subject sessions) daily.
Subjects included: Math, Arabic, English, Gym

English class for adults

English class for adults

Iliadis: Registration for this learning center site began about one month after my arrival to Greece. The reason for the delay was for one primary reason- the location for the learning center needed an infrastructure to be built. Therefore we were delayed in the start-up of that site. After about three weeks of planning and discussion with the builders, an initial infrastructure was put up. After another two weeks the main center structure was built. In addition to volunteers from various groups working to build SCM the site, they also custom made large cabinets and chalk boards as well as eventually returning with custom made school desks and chairs for the children.

Registration for school aged children (ages 5-18 yrs) was done prior to any building. Children with special needs were also reported.

Money raised by volunteers and donated by SCM itself was used to finance the needs of the center, including the purchase of notebooks and pencil packets (pencils, eraser, sharpener) for each child that attended, as well as small/large whiteboards, floor mats, workbooks, puzzles, etc.

Classes were arranged by the following age groups:
5-7 yrs
8-10 yrs
11-13 yrs
14+ yrs

Wooden desks and chairs ready to go to the schools we have set up

Wooden desks and chairs ready to go to the schools we have set up

Classes for 5-10 yr olds ran one hour (two – 30 minute subject sessions) daily.
Classes for 11+ yrs ran for 1.5 hrs (two – 45 minute subject sessions) daily.
Subjects included: Math, Arabic, English, Gym, Art

The site for this camp proved to be much more efficient for teaching, especially once I asked for a door to be built to control who comes in and out and also lower walls to be added to avoid distraction of the children during classes.

Note: Both sites included adult English classes (Beginner/Advanced) as well as alternative German for kids and adults.

EducationGreeceHumanitarian AidRefugeesUncategorizedUNHCR


August 19 is World Humanitarian Day

“World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk.” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

SCM is grateful for all of those who have volunteered with us to provide aid to the Syrian refugees and others, on our medical missions and in the countless other ways you have helped. Without our volunteers, we would not be able to provide the aid we have been able to over the past several years in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and now Greece. Below is a letter from Rita Zawaideh, our President and CEO of SCM, about the situation in Greece.

on patrol

SCM Volunteers at Idomeni, walking among the tents to offer medical aid.

Continuing the record pace of arrivals in Greece in 2015, more Syrians and refugees from other countries in conflict fled from Turkey and got stuck at Greece’s northern border with Macedonia in Idomeni. The border crossing at Idomeni was supposed to be the gateway to Europe.  But in February, Macedonia sealed its border with Greece, leaving the refugees with little alternative but to wait and hope the border crossing would reopen so they could continue their journey north. The refugees camped out in the fields, in the cold February weather, hoping that the doors would re-open and the European countries would reconsider. As cold winter turned to spring, and finally the summer was almost upon them, the border remained closed.

The refugees stayed, hoping against hope that they would soon be able to continue on to countries like Germany to get on with their lives with the hope that some day, maybe one day off in the distant future, they could go home to their beloved Syria. But for now, their focus has been getting to safety where they could support their families and their children could go to school. We tried to tell them that the borders would not reopen and they needed to consider another plan. But what that would be is something that none of us knew.

The Greek government made a decision to clear the area around Idomeni of the refugee tents, and late one day in May the military with buses and started to round up the refugees. They took the refugees to vacant warehouses at several locations between Idomeni and Thessaloniki. This is where the new camps had been established. The refugees had no choice, they had to get on the busses, and many were not even given a chance to collect their meager belongings before being put on the bus.


One of the new camps set up by the Greek government in an old hangar – they are using vacant warehouses and military hangars to house the refugees.

No one knew what the conditions were going to be like but hoped it would be better than sleeping on the dirt and outside in the cold and wind.  Some of the camps turned out to be ok, but not that great.  The conditions inside the warehouses where the tents were erected are noisy, and the floor is hard and unforgiving. There were portable toilets outside and some sinks for washing, but no place for cooking so they had to make do with the food the military distributed which consisted of water, pasta and bread.  We all know that the Greek government itself has no funds for helping the refugees, and they were not expecting that these hundred thousand plus people would be staying in Greece, but they had no choice.

The Greek government promised that they would help the refugees with their asylum applications and that volunteers from the UNHCR and other organization would come in and register them.  The UNHCR is stretched very thin as well, and the registration process is completely bogged down in Greece. The refugees are waiting, and keep asking when they can apply for asylum, and if they have already applied, how long will it take to get an answer and what is going on with their application.  The UNHCR volunteers don’t have any answers for them.

Once the Greek government cleared the border area at Idomeni and opened the new camps throughout northern Greece, we realized that the refugees would be staying for a while, rather than simply passing through. SCM changed it’s plan of operation from providing short term assistance services like emergency medical aid, to long term social services such as education, mother and baby care, programs for adults to help them adjust and prepare with language lessons, and more.

New classroom being built by SCM with the help of the refugees

New classroom being built by SCM with the help of the refugees

Rasha, one of our previous mission volunteers, said she would go to Greece and help set up programs to address some of these issues in the three camps that we are working in.  We now have schools set up to teach basic subjects to the children – math, Arabic grammar, etc, as well as classes to teach languages to the adults. They can now learn English, German, and Greek. This has given the refugees something to look forward to each day, and a sense of making some kind of progress, rather than just sitting and waiting for the next move by the governments and the UNHCR. The families are excited, and the children really want to go to class and learn.

Back at our main office in Seattle, we started collecting school supplies and Rasha was able to gather supplies in Greece as well, and she got the refugees involved in building the enclosure for the school room, desks and chairs for the school, and also helping with teaching.  If they were previously teachers in Syria we got them to come and help.  We wanted everyone to get involved, so depending on their skills, we had them come and use those skills to teach the children – anything that would help contribute to activating the minds of the children, and anyone who wants to learn. From agriculture, mechanics, sewing, jewelry making, etc.

Depression is an enormous problem among the refugees, and this is one way to help alleviate that. Losing hope for a future that does not include living in a tent, seeing no end to the misery in their home country, children who are as old as 11 who have never been to school in their young lives because of the war in Syria, and so much more are all contributors to depression amongst the refugees. We are doing our best to help them as much as we can. So we, as volunteers and a small NGO, have our work cut out for us to keep these people motivated, and give them some hope, by getting them educated so they will be prepared for the new world that is coming to them.

You can help us by volunteering to go on missions with us. But if you are not able to go, please help us keep working by donating to SCM by going to our Donate page:  https://www.scmmedicalmissions.org/donate/

We really need your help so we are able to keep helping the refugees.

Thank you,


EducationGreeceHumanitarian AidRefugeesUncategorized

English classes for #refugees underway at Frakapor Camp

Our women and children program coordinator in Greece sent us an update about the English classes she was able to get started at the camp in Frakapor in northern Greece. She had over 60 adults show up for the adult session and will be working to split the group into smaller groups so the students can get more attention.

We had one of our talented volunteers in the Seattle area – Kay from The Crafty Arab – create some posters for the classroom to help with the learning process. Thank you Kay! We also received wooden desks from some volunteers that brought them from Germany. We will be using some and sharing the rest with another organization we are working closely with.

Without our volunteers, none of this would be possible! You can help support their efforts by donating today! We need to get more school supplies and food for the refugees.

EducationGreeceHumanitarian AidRefugees

SCM School at Iliadis Camp, Greece

Here is an update from Rasha, our coordinator in Greece who has been working hard to get classes going at a few of the camps we are working in. These are photos from Iliadis Camp.

First 2 days of school. We had a math teacher who’s from another camp as well as the Arabic teacher who’s from Iliadis. I taught Arabic at first as well as English, and today taught Greek! Yup, you read that correctly. I taught only four phrases – Thank you. ..You’re welcome. …Good morning. ..and Good evening. The Greek teacher got held up so I filled in in the meantime. Keela also taught English to the 14+ class today. A refugee from the camp and a volunteer from New Zealand taught gym.

In Iliadis we will start teaching English to the adults next week, inshAllah. They’re all really anxious. They try to sit it the school when we’re teaching the kids but I have to tell them to wait for their turn! They’re very excited to learn. We will be providing books, pens, etc for all adults. We’re also offering an hour a day of German as well. So far the kids and adults love what we’re doing. The adults come up to me daily and are so grateful.

Below are some photos from the school. We need your help to keep these programs going – the schools, the maternity housing, supplies, etc. We also need funds for the food distributions we are doing. Please donate today!

EducationGreeceHumanitarian AidRefugeesSyriaWomen & Children

Getting Back to School

SCM is setting up a section of a large warehouse for our school at the Frakapor camp in Greece. Tomorrow will be our first day operating there, and the first couple of days will be spent assessing the kids to see where they are at academically. We are being helped by refugees who used to be teachers back home in Syria, as well as our humanitarian volunteers that join the missions.

Supplies for the school are being sent to Greece with our volunteers, and some supplies are being purchased there in Greece. You can help get more school supplies to them by visiting our Amazon Wish List where you can find items needed for the schools and for our New Baby Welcome Kits that are also going to go to Greece, but in a container in September.



Community ServiceEducation

Malki Class Graduation!

Check out the photos below of the graduating class of April 2015! The children at our Malki Center had a graduation party, complete with every child receiving a handmade quilt. These quilts were made by devoted crafters in the states, and are prized possessions by many of the children and their parents. They have a tag that states where and who it’s from, in addition to a space in which the students are able to write their names in. Thank you to Carolyn Sower, Judith Meeker, Quilts without Borders, and Jackie Lambert for providing us these beautiful blankets!

We are gearing up to take in another group of children who have been traumatized by events out of their control. Our Malki-SCM Children’s Center provides psycho-social support to these children, providing a space for them to heal and grow, just like a child should. Please continue to support our Center by visiting the donation page on our website. Thank you! graduation graduation 2IMG_8752 IMG_8753 IMG_8754 IMG_8755 IMG_8756 IMG_8757