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October 24 began our work in earnest

We met the staff at Velos today. Mustafa ( the Syrian from the last part of Dana’s book) is the CEO. There’s some Greeks- the lead teacher, lawyer, para-legal, social worker, something akin to our school counselors and a lifestyle director, as well as a young man from Afghanistan who mentors many of the kids. We met a couple of “kids”- the current group is mostly from Africa and Afghanistan- 80% male.

We will use some of the money we’ve raised for school materials including an interactive whiteboard. I’m working on setting up the blog, which I will share with you and anyone else who wants it.

We’re being attentive and cautious. We know the hostilities are spreading. We were on the train just outside of Paris when a terrorist knife attack occurred in the suburb we were passing through and the police boarded the train. Obviously our cruise has already rerouted from Israel, but also No Saudi Arabia or Cypress either. We are being very accepting of whatever needs to happen. Our worries are nothing compared to what these “kids” have gone through to get here.

Today has been a long and very good day. We arrived at Velos for a team meeting to prioritize our work. Almost everything we do, we will do with the young people. As they grow to know us, they will talk more and more and practice their English. Most of the young people we have met are from Afghanistan. One was born in Afghanistan but moved with his family to Pakistan when he was 6. He emigrated to Greece by walking there from Pakistan. Check that out on a map! One person is a lower level professional football player- not getting paid yet, but hopeful.

We spent a good amount of time talking with one young man from Afghanistan. He and 3 of his fellow students were celebrated today for passing their English certificate granted by the University of Michigan. The certificate in English is a huge stepping stone toward asylum. They sat for their exams a couple of months ago and finally got word of their achievement. Several others have more recently sat for their exams from Michigan or Cambridge. One young man awaiting his results is from Mali and speaks five languages. The teacher Doris and CEO Mustafa led the celebration and everyone clapped and cheered. We feel like we were useful today and not just observers.

We ended our work day by cabbing to Praktiker, Greece’s answer to Lowe’s or Home Depot. We got home about 8:00pm, still shy by an hour of when most Greeks begin to eat dinner. We’re pooped!

Tomorrow we begin sanding and prepping for paint- doors and railing. When we get permission for more photos, we’ll send more.


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