Soup and Socks e.V. with Habibi.Works
Epirus, the region Habibi.Works is operating in, is the region with least infrastructure in the economically challenged country of Greece. After the closure of the inner European borders in 2016, asylum seekers and locals had to face many challenges alone. Within this complex context, Habibi.Works provides a welcoming maker-space, a platform for constructive change, for dialog, education, empowerment and social encounters - in short: for civic cohesion.
Katsikas, Epirus (one of the weakest regions in the country when it comes to infrastructure), Greece
The numbers of people arriving in Greece in search for freedom and safety have been rising in 2019. The lack of solidarity from the side of the European Union leaves the Greek government, but also the Greek people and the asylum seekers, alone when facing the challenges this situation brings. In Epirus alone, more than 3500 people are living in refugee camps and accommodations, most of them outside of villages and cities, excluded from and invisible to the local population. The current line of the right-wing government, the effects of the economical crisis and the complete lack of access to community spaces and opportunities for dialogue make it very challenging to include people and their potential in the local communities and allow them to become active citizens.
Habibi.Works is a maker-space, a project of 10 open workshop areas, from classic woodwork over sewing up to advanced 3D printing. The workshops are platforms for education, empowerment and social encounters for refugees and members of the local communities. In a context that lacks perspectives and opportunities, Habibi.Works is providing a space in which every person is welcome and encouraged to participate free of charge. The workshop areas are used to fix or build items for daily life use, but also to receive information about local and legal aspects, to share experience and to meet people from different backgrounds. People make first steps towards each other in a safe space. Like this Habibi.Works enables people to unfold their potential as active citizens and builds community.
Habibi.Works is open for refugees and asylum seekers, for migrants and for Greek locals. We pay attention to our offers being used not only by men but also by women, encouraging them to participate in activities of all kind and to speak up in the monthly community meetings.
It will be crucial to include more and more Greek locals into the team that is running Habibi.Works. At the moment the team consists mostly of international experts who invest their time, energy and knowledge on a voluntary basis. Looking at the economic situation in Greece, locals can only consider to get involved in the implementation of the project full time if this task provides an income. Offering 3 paid positions for Greek locals and registering as a Greek entity is part of this proposal.
Several steps will be necessary on two levels to include more members of the local community in the project and its management: One level will concern infrastructure, such as the setting up of a Greek entity and paid positions. Steps on the other level include shared cultural events, information sessions and participatory workshops, to strengthen the feeling of ownership over the project and the opportunities it holds. Including actors such as local initiatives, organisations and authorities will be of importance. Habibi.Works has been a lighthouse project when it comes to the use of participatory approaches and empowerment in the work with asylum seekers. Now it seeks to become an example for the sustainable anchoring of the project in its local context to increase civic capacities.
The success of this project will lie in including more Greek locals into both, the team and the users of Habibi.Works. In best case, 3 positions are created for at least 6 months, Habibi.Works is established as a Greek entity, partnering with the existing German entity Soup and Socks e.V.. The municipality of Ioannina has paid the project a visit to understand the potential this project holds for the local community. Individuals in Ioannina make active use of the opportunities Habibi.Works offers and bring in their own ideas for future ventures. In the process, locals will automatically get in touch with asylum seekers and refugees, the majority of the current users of Habibi.Works. The interactions will create dialogue, reduce prejudices and strengthen a diverse and active society.
If people are excluded from society, their voices won't be heard and prejudices will continue to grow. Interaction and collaboration on a local level are the most effective approaches to encourage dialogue, to foster diversity and to make sure that people use their potential to shape a strong, active civil society that is marked by openness, solidarity and respect, as a fundamental requirement for a functioning democracy. This is exactly what Habibi.Works has been doing during the last four years and what it will bring to the next level within this proposal. Besides the involvement on the ground in Greece, it is one of the declared goals of Soup and Socks to raise awareness about the situation in Greece and to put positive counter points against a growing right-wing narrative in Europe.
The massive lack of solidarity and willingness from side of the EU to find dignified solutions in this context, have left hundreds of thousands of people without proper accommodation, without access to education, psychological support, the labor market and the society as such - on a continent that is one of the richest in the world. People can be enrichments for our society, if we allow them to integrate. We as Soup and Socks have invested the last four years in making a difference on a local level, with extraordinary results, proving that things can be changed. Finding a way to include more locals in the implementation of the project is an important step towards a sustainable future of these efforts that will be able to inspire social change - not only in Epirus.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Office and logistics: 600 Euros. Space rent: 4998 Euros. personnel costs: 24.000 Euros. Public relations and set up of Greek entity: 2500 Euros.
Running the project as such (materials, fix costs, compensations for volunteers and staff) costs around 16.000 Euros every month (96.000 Euros in 6 months). As all available resources are needed to keep the project running, we apply for the additional 32.098 Euros for the project idea "´Bridging the Gap".
Our team is curious to learn how other projects and initiatives are making sure to include the local community as much as possible. Moreover we would be excited to get in touch with projects who are interested in collaborating in the future!