From One Olive Grove to Another
23. July, 2016
By Better Days
Dear Better Days friends and family,
This past spring we left our olive grove on Moria, but since then we have moved to a new grove, and with it, a new project at the Elpida Factory in Thessaloniki. Elpida means hope in Greek. It is hope for a better future that brought Better Days here, and it is the hope that we can create the change we want to see in the world that brought this project to life. Over the past six weeks more than 200 volunteers from over 20 different countries have worked tirelessly to transform an old jeans factory into a warm, welcoming home where refugees can live with dignity and respect. Mountains of rubbish have been removed with educational centers constructed in their place, and the enormous factory workspaces have been transformed into beautiful rooms for individual families.
While we hope that every refugee coming to Elpida will move on to their final destination as soon as possible, we want this place to feel like a home for however long they are here. To do this we are not only focusing on accommodation but also educational programs, food, and activity spaces. We consider access to physical, mental, spiritual, and educational fulfillment to be essential in any home and any life. Most importantly, we value community involvement. Our mission is to provide the spaces and begin facilitating activities and programs, but ultimately the residents will have the agency to create the home they want for themselves.
Currently thousands of families are living in crowded tents without privacy, enough food and no access to safe running water, showers, clean toilets, proper medical support or education. This has to change! In collaboration with other organizations and the Greek Ministry of Migration we have set out to prove that it’s possible to house refugees while not only meeting minimum humanitarian standards, but also exceeding them. What we achieve here will pave the road for further projects in Greece and beyond.
We are called Better Days for a reason. Even in the most difficult situations that can feel overwhelming and insurmountable we believe that it is always possible to create a brighter path forward. None of this would be possible without our amazing team of volunteers who give their time, passion, and brilliance to this project. We are also truly dependent and deeply grateful to everyone who has sent us donations, enabling us to affect change and improve countless lives. We appreciate your support and participation more than words can express. Please always feel free to get in contact with us if you would like more information about our project, donating, or getting involved. We continue to rely on your support going forward.
As we sweep the final rooms and add the finishing touches, we marvel at the transformation of this space. Once a rundown abandoned factory, we now have a clean, bright and welcoming home that’s ready for its residents to bring it alive. Thank you all, we look forward to sharing our progress, challenges, and joys with you in the days and weeks to come!
Our outdoor communal pizza oven and multipurpose sports area before and after.
Elpida: The word elpida means hope in the Greek language, but what does that word really mean to me? I hope to start a family, and I hope to have a loving home. That’s what the word elpida means to me; it means home. Home is where the heart is, home is where family is, and home is where I feel loved.
-Loren Samuel, Volunteer