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Spending Christmas with over 2,000 refugees

01/02/2017: Greece - Photo gallery

Ten Marists of the Mediterranea Province and seven from the Iberica Province gave up their Christmas vacation to help in a camp in the west of Athens that is home to 2,300 refugees, of which most are Syrian.
 
Teachers and catechists involved in the Marist Youth Ministry (Grupos de Vida Cristiana) in Mediterranea travelled from Huelva, Granada, Jaen, Cordoba and Alicante from Dec. 25 – Jan. 4.  
 
Volunteers included Brother Javier Gragera Fernández-Salguero, the Provincial Pastoral Delegate and students of one of the two Greek Marist schools, Lycee Leonin Nea Smyrni.
 
During the holidays, they worked in the refugee camp Eleonas collaborating with Project Elea, a non-governmental organisation. Although this experience was not linked to any Marist project, they were blessed to have received the hospitality of the Marist community of Athens.
 
Seven other Marist volunteers, two groups of animators of the Iberica Province, travelled from Madrid, Navalmoral, Guadalajara and Zaragoza. One group travelled to Greece from Dec. 25 - Jan. 1 while the other from Jan. 1 - 6.
 
According to Brother Mateos Levantinos, the Greek Marists have approached the government for permission to offer a home for refugees, but have not yet received an answer.
 
The Brothers have two social works and two schools in Athens, Lycee Leonin Patissia and Lycee Nea Smyrni. Lycee Leonin Patissia already has nine refugee students, while Lycee Nea Smyrni is awaiting a response from the Ministry of Education to receive more refugees.
 
There are 45 refugee camps in Greece that have sprung to try to deal with the crisis. 
 
In 2015, the number of refugees in Eleonas Camp was about 700. They come from countries affected by war including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
 
There are a total of 12 Marist Brothers in Greece, all in Athens. Eight are in the community Aghia Kyriaki and four are in the community Acharnes. Of the four Brothers in Acharnes, one is French and another from Spain. 
 
The Brothers in Athens also offer Greek lessons to elderly refugees and immigrants, and after school help to children. Aside from this, they regularly accompany students to take food, clothes or cultural animation to refugee camps. 
 
Furthermore, they offer financial support to the Missionary Sisters of Charity for the distribution of food, and collect clothes and food for Caritas to distribute them. 

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