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Refugee empowerment through food | Civic Europe
Social inclusion

Refugee empowerment through food

Create a sophisticated and well-structured education program with on-the-job training and theoretical education


Who is behind this?

Jessica Nichols

Project Armonia


Who is joining forces?

Project Armonia



Idea pitch

Project Armonia is a free-restaurant run by refugees, for refugees. We provide the vital nutrition, dignity and basic human rights refugees and asylum seekers are often denied. We prepare 1000 meals per day.
However, the project has become more than just food provision. We want to start facilitating and promoting the sustainable integration of refugees into host communities and increase job prospects through vocational training, whilst simultaneously increasing our daily meal capacity.

Where will your project idea take place?

Samos, Greece
Looking to expand outside of this location in the coming months

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

On Samos and across the Aegean islands refugees are forced to live in deplorable conditions with insufficient access to their basic human rights. Additionally, hostility from local populations and lack of opportunity to learn the local language makes it extremely difficult to integrate into the local society and find paid employment. In such a position, refugees are stripped of their autonomy and independence.

On top of this, the asylum services are very overstrained, leaving people to wait upto 3 years for an outcome to their asylum claim. In such conditions, they suffer extreme psychological distress and are extremely underchallenged in terms of movement. Therefore we try to improve opportunities for them so they can become active citizens.

Who are you doing it for?

We want to create a sophisticated and well-structured education program with
on-the-job training and theoretical education for our fifty volunteers from the local refugee community while providing food for people in need, including people from the local Greek community. Our beneficiaries from the refugee community are those most in need of nutrition: pregnant and breastfeeding women, the elderly, sick people, people with disabilities and children. A local medical organisation estimates that over one third of Samos’s refugee camp is malnourished. We try and feed as many as people as possible by cooking around 1000 healthy, nourishing meals per day with plans to expand this meal output in the future.

How do you plan to get there?

We want to expand the capacity to feed more people in need, including local people. This requires taking on more volunteers from the local refugee community. We also want to provide these additional volunteers with hygiene training, language classes and opportunity to learn transferable skills. We then plan to expand the vocational side to our project by:

Increasing English language lesson frequency, including classes in Greek. This will require more volunteer teachers and learning resources.
Providing official hygiene training and certification that is recognised throughout Europe.
Expanding our existing CV and cover letter help workshops

We plan to do these things in collaboration with volunteers, businesses and partner organisations from the local community

What are the expected results?

Project Armonia aims to empower the community it serves. In the coming year we aim to expand the capacity of our existing restaurant and take on more volunteers. Through this we can increase the amount of people who receive vital nutrition and those that we can offer language and vocational classes. We want to allow refugees and asylum seekers to have equal opportunities upon their arrival to Europe and be treated with the dignity they deserve.

We also plan to expand our project outside of Samos to other locations where refugees arrive into Europe. Through this, we plan to maximise the impact on local levels we can have with our project.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

To counteract the lack of movement refugees face we want to continue facilitating the means for refugees to be proactive in a situation which renders them dependent on choices of others. We provide the necessary paperwork required to work legally in Greece, language classes and vocational training. Thus, we give them the tools to be able to become active citizens in their community and future communities and hence challenge common local perceptions of refugees through direct action.

In addition, their time spent on Samos will be used to take action, develop skills and help thousands of people across multiple language and cultural barriers. Our volunteers will have developed skills specific to the hospitality sector and others such as good communication, teamwork and flexibility.

Why is this idea important to you?

We want to welcome refugees with hospitality where they are normally welcomed with hostility. We give them a safe space where they can escape the inhumane conditions of the camp where they are forced to live and improve their skills while waiting for upto two years for their asylum claim to be processed.

From working on Samos, we realised very quickly the biggest needs for refugees: food and a sense of purpose.

We decided we could offer our expertise from the food industry and started the free restaurant. Our goal was not only to feed people but bring them a taste of home in a foreign place by cooking dishes from their home countries.

We wanted to give them back some dignity, through purpose and providing the basic human rights that they are denied.

€ 50000,-

Total budget

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Kitchen Equipment: 30'000 EUR
Coordination: 5'000 EUR
Admin Costs: 1'000 EUR
Meeting Costs: 1'000 EUR
Equipment for classes: 5'000 EUR
Rent for additional space one year: 8'000 EUR


Project Armonia - Refugee empowerment

Idea created on May 27, 2020

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