Help keep Echo mobile library on the road!

By ECHO for Refugees

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Help our library to go where it's needed.

Imagine life as a refugee in Greece. For many, this is as far as you will be allowed to go in your journey to a safe place to build new life. Fleeing from war, economic hardship, or persecution, you are told to wait indefinitely for your asylum application to be processed. At any moment you could receive a call telling you your claim has been rejected, and you may be deported. Language barriers make integration difficult. An uncertain legal status limits your access to formal education. A nearly non-existent employment market makes you feel like building your future is impossible.

Photo credit: Laura Samira Naude


ECHO Refugee Library is on a mission to change this. We are an educational hub servicing refugee camps and community centres where people wait for their asylum claims to be heard and processed. Some will live in this status-less limbo for years, with limited access to formal education and a nearly non-existent employment market.

In order to assist asylum-seekers with gaining qualifications, learning languages, applying for jobs or just getting lost in a good book, our mobile library offers:

  • Access to online university courses with certification through platforms such as Coursera
  • Access to language learning resources, both print and digital
  • Books in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, French, German, Spanish, Turkish, Kurmanji, Greek and English (a collection which needs constant expanding to meet a dynamic demographic)
  • Greek lessons, guitar sessions, board games and children's activities
  • A pop-up social space and information point
  • Photo credit: Keoma Zec

We need your help.

We currently survive solely on generous donations and grants to keep the mobile library running. We are a small, volunteer-only charity with a turnover of just $17,000 per year. Without a steady source of funding, our wheels will simply stop.

Photo credit: Keoma Zec

This is Greece for a refugee.

Over 60,000 refugees were stranded in Greece after the closing of the borders to the rest of Europe in March 2016. There are now an estimated 68,000.


Photo credit: Laura Samira Naude


The asylum process is long and uncertain. The former so-called 'relocation system' ended, so pathways out of Greece are fewer and more difficult to reach. For a growing number of refugees, Greece is the end of the road, and they will have to endure an excessively long asylum application process, overcome prejudice and language barriers to integrate into an already struggling economy.

The wait is lengthy, and agonising.

For children, valuable years of education and development are being lost. For teenagers and adults, the lack of opportunity to study and build their futures, or to work and provide for their families, is the most difficult part of this entire journey.

These are people full of drive and dreams of the future they desire for themselves and their families. They are intelligent, skilled, and hard-working, seeking only the opportunity to build their lives in safety and with dignity.

Photo credit: Keoma Zec

Who are we?

ECHO (Education.Community.Hope.Opportunity) Refugee Library was formed by a small group of volunteers, who fell in love with people who showed the truest face of humanity in an inhumane context. Ranging from the UK, Belgium, Ireland, South Africa, Peru and Holland - we came from all over with one vision to do something for the incredible and resilient people we met in Greece.

ECHO Refugee Library operates under the umbrella of ECHO for Refugees - a UK registered charity (Registration No. 1178189)

Our team on the ground is always expanding, and working hard to keep the library on the road and fill every book request we meet.

We are a small but deeply dedicated team. We are always looking for committed members to join us! Reach out at contact@echo-greece.org with any questions.

Photo credit: Laura Samira Naude

What we are doing

The library has been running since November 2016, first in Northern Greece and now in and around Athens. Since we first hit the road, the library has visited 21 sites throughout Greece, circulating as many resources as possible. You can learn more about the mobile library's story here.

The library currently visits 10 sites. Here's our weekly schedule:

Monday:

Oinofyta camp, 11.30AM - 1PM

Malakasa camp, 2.30PM - 4PM

Tuesday:

Sounio camp, 10AM - 12PM

Lavrio town camp, 1.30PM - 3PM

Lavrio rural camp, 3.30PM - 5PM

Wednesday:

Exarcheia (Welcommon Hostel), 1PM - 2PM

Victoria (Victoria Square Project), 2.30PM - 5PM

Omonia (Steps), 5.30PM - 8PM

Thursday:

Korinthos camp, 10AM - 1PM

Elefsina camp, 2.30PM - 4PM

We work hard not only to deliver books but to respond to the desires of the communities we work with, providing lessons, activities, information, games and good conversation!

We're honoured to have our work recognised by the International Federation of Library Associations, with an award for good multicultural practice.

You can learn more about what we've been up to from our facebook, twitter and instagram, @refugeelibrary.

Check out what we achieved last year here.

We need your help now

Everything we have been able to do up to this point has been due to the generosity of others supporting this initiative.

We are lucky to have our basic costs (fuel and 2 x co-ordinator stipends) supported at the moment by the brilliant Fonthill Foundation. However, we still need help buying books, providing internet, and fixing the van when it breaks down. Every little bit helps our wheels keep rolling, and improves the service that we can bring to the camps.

Photo credit: Keoma Zec

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