OUR FOUNDER’S INTRODUCTION:
I landed in Greece on a cold rainy night on the 20th of January 2016. The plan was for 3 months. It has now been two years and two days.
Since the EU-Turkey deal came into effect on 20th March 2016, people fleeing their homes have been trapped and repeatedly been failed by the promise of humanity that Europe claims to stand for. Specially connected with the women, the Athena Centre for Women was opened in July 2016 on Chios, where we’ve welcomed over 600 women from various nationalities where their psychological, legal and medical needs have been met – many of them fled their homes, facing exploitation, trafficking and gender based violence, in flight and sometimes on Chios.
Upon transfer to mainland, and without transferable skills and language, many women are vulnerable to re-exploitation. I listened to many stories. Of the atrocities they’ve suffered but also how they are so keen to rebuild their lives and pursue their dreams. These women never saw themselves as victims. Rightly so: They are survivors. They just needed resources and a stable environment, to rebuild and transition into a new chapter.
But how? If being in Greece for two years working on this man-made crisis has taught me, it is to never wait for a solution or an answer from Europe or the Greek government.
Proactivity is crucial.
So, after some road blocks and false starts, the Halcyon Days project is fast becoming a reality.
In Greek mythology, the Halcyon Days are 7 windless and sunny days when storms do not occur. The Halcyon Days convey optimism and has inspired writers and poets alike from Shakespeare to Walt Whitman, as it signifies a period of peace, calm, serenity, and tranquility.
The objective of this project is to minimise the risk of re-exploitation, trafficking and forced prostitution by providing a safe nest, of a stable egalitarian living environment, and structured vocational training courses. The Halcyon Days Project is our response and objection to how survivors of trafficking and gender based violence are being handled by the larger “aid” organisations, and a reinforcement of our commitment to standing together with the women in solidarity against their struggles.
As Socrates once said: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
We believe in the women’s ability to draw on their own power to create change, rather than be the passive recipient of circumstances.
Until whenever they are strong enough to fly away.
I have a lot more to say but I’ll let this video speak for itself. I simply urge you all to listen to the girls – some of them who will be living with us – and show your support.