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A reason to Celebrate: 6 years of Bashira Centre Lesvos / 5 years of Amina Centre Athens

6 years Bashira

In August of this year, we celebrated the 6th anniversary of the Bashira Centre on Lesvos. The Centre had been beautifully decorated by the Bashira team and welcomed our clients, who arrived with their children for the birthday celebration. The house filled with joy and laughter as the women arrived one by one. Music flowed throughout the building, turning our garden into a dance floor. The women quickly found the rhythm and danced gracefully, losing themselves in the dance. Other women sat around the dancers, adding to the music with rhythmic clapping. A young mother, her face radiant with happiness, danced with her little girl in her arms, who giggled with joy. While the women enjoyed themselves on the dance floor, a culinary buffet was set up in the Bashira kitchen, featuring delicious dishes from around the world that the women had brought. Plates were quickly filled, and a sense of calm descended during the meal, but it didn't last long as the Centre was soon stormed by a group of children who had transformed into butterflies and pirates with face paint. The cause of their excitement was the arrival of the giant birthday cake. Soon, the little pirate and butterfly faces were smeared with cream. One small pirate loved the cake so much that he asked for seconds with a mouth full of food. However, the Bashira staff knew him all too well and sent him away until everyone had received a slice. After that, he received his coveted treat with a smile on his face. The oversized Jenga game became a skill competition as the children tried to build the tallest towers without collapsing. Four brothers built a small castle for their little sister, who finally sat in it like a little princess and giggled to herself.

The most beautiful part of this special day was undoubtedly the heartfelt conversations with the women who shared their experiences at the Bashira Centre and what this place means to them. One of these remarkable women is the mother of the little princess, who had fallen asleep on her lap in the meantime. The woman gently lifted her little girl into her arms and expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the support she receives every time she visits the Centre.

Whether in Arabic, English, Farsi, French, or Greek, the gratitude was expressed by the different women. We could also read this gratitude in their shining eyes and the happy smiles as they said their goodbyes. The Bashira Centre is not just a place of support for them; it's also a home.

5 years Amina

The 5th anniversary celebration of the Amina Centre was a day we will all remember for a long time. Music, decorations, and food were as always when we have a party. But the emotions were different. There was a feeling of pride, shared equally by the Amina women and the staff members, that is rarely expressed collectively. Amina women who have moved on to more independent paths, women who are new to the Athens life, women who are still struggling to overcome obstacles that oftentimes seem unsurmountable, and women who work hard to accept and be accepted joined SAO staff to mark the day.

It has been five years or 1,825 days since the day we opened our gates to serve displaced women and their children. During this time, 870 clients received assistance from SAO staff and volunteers. We are all aware of the effort put in and the support given by colleagues and supporters in Zurich, Lesvos, and Athens.

On that day though, successes, testing moments, and goals were not reflected in reports, sessions, or activities. They were reflected by the feeling of warmth, achievement, and pride for challenging the seemingly impossible.

There is no better way to share that feeling than the statement of Aysha when we all gathered to watch a video* of special moments and people:

“I have been here since the beginning!

And so have many of you. Today is also a day that gives us the opportunity to say from the bottom of our hearts:

Thank you for your support!”

The Amina Team

*Respecting the rules of protection that we maintain at all times, we are sharing with you a slightly modified video as the original included pictures by our clients who fully trusted we will not expose their privacy.


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