09. September, 2016
By Better Days
Dear Better Days friends and family,
It has been over a month since our first residents arrived. Over the weeks that followed we focused primarily on making sure our residents had all their basic needs fulfilled and adjusting to the new daily challenges of running a camp. Now that things have begun to slow down, residents and volunteers alike have started focusing on turning Elpida into something truly extraordinary.
It is not enough that Elpida meets all the minimum humanitarian standards. We believe that souls need to be nurtured, and potentials fulfilled. Within days of moving in our residents filled out skills and interests forms. We used these to match up teachers and activity leaders with those who wanted to learn or participate in certain classes and activities. Since then we have created daily activities such as English classes for all ages, Arabic classes for volunteers (taught by a teacher from Iraq), art workshops, yoga, aerobics, women’s health education, sports, theater workshops, and a biweekly sunset hike up the neighboring hill.
Volunteers and residents building together.
Beautiful Interactive art making with kids.
One of our most central philosophies is active community involvement. Residents hold weekly women’s and men’s meetings to discuss issues in the community and come up with solutions. Through these meetings they have developed systems for cleaning communal spaces, waste management, and participating in food distribution. It is also a forum where they can bring up questions and concerns with each other, and also with the volunteers and staff on site. We aim to build on the existing systems that empower residents to take ownership and responsibility over their home and their lives here at Elpida.
Because we have many proactive residents, much of this started organically. For example, a farmer from Syria transformed the long stretch of earth outside Elpida’s front door into a beautiful flower garden complete with an irrigation system. We will continue encouraging residents to get involved with all aspects of Elpida and plan on facilitating capacity building educational programs and technical workshops that will empower residents of all ages and genders to get involved with the space and community. We are well on our way to realizing our vision of Elpida as a collaborative community that, in the midst of an uncertain and trying time, can create the environment and opportunities needed to nurture both the body and soul.
As many of you already know we are a completely volunteer run and crowd-funded organization. From our short-term volunteers to our founders we have no salary and very little overhead. Our existence depends on generous people like you. Thank you to everyone who has helped us get this far.
-The Better Days team