As evidence of the growth achieved in 2020 and the desire to continue investing energy and money in what is being built with partners Vasilika Moon and OBTI, a new project was inaugurated as soon as the lockdown in Greece was concluded (January 2021).
It consists of a new space, about a hundred metres from the aforementioned Community School, which will try to do what its very name suggests: “Cheriapsies”, in Greek “χειραψίες“, literally means “handshakes“. It is a gesture that everyone does when first meeting someone , either similar to or different from them, when they want to talk to someone.
Within a reality that is open to everyone, the facility proposes to bring back to life a habit that has been forbidden these days,: from the refugees who already participate in the activities, to those who will arrive, to the inhabitants of Corinth, and the many people that, for different reasons, will go through this city during the next year. Everyone is welcome to a place that aims to have no barriers and to allow greater integration, cultural exchange, and to build new relationships.
Setting up a meeting place should not be aimed only at refugees or asylum seekers. It should encourage a peaceful cohabitation with the different communities living in Corinth, where often the difference between the native citizens and the migrants is very strong.
The space is committed to offering on a daily basis:
- Free shop:
- We Bike You;
- Free medical-health assistance with first aid clinic managed by the Medical Volunteer International organization;
- Free Internet point with access to desktop PCs and dock stations for charging devices;
- Open bar with free chai and coffee;
- Art and creative exhibitions.
- Library with books for children and adults, in different languages;
What is the free shop?
The χειραψίεσ Free shop, launched in June 2021, consists of a free shop accessible to all refugees or asylum seekers in the Corinth camp. In this context and in relation to the services that are already provided in our Community Center, we aim to guarantee spaces of freedom of choice, which in this case are represented by the possibility of shopping according to one’s own priorities and tastes. In fact, the distribution of food and hygiene products for camp guests takes place through a point system that allows you to choose what to pick up at the shop.
Why open a free shop?
In emergency situations it is essential to act quickly, so the most effective and fastest way is the distribution through standard packages. However, the Corinth camp (opened in September 2019) has now become a permanent reality hosting 800 to 1000 people. For this reason, “classic” distributions can be replaced and implemented through projects such as the free shop.
How does the points system work?
People who access our free shop can choose between various types of food or hygiene products (arriving with solidaritir), depending on the needs of the family and their tastes. The points are recharged monthly through a computer software that allows you to record all purchases. The beneficiaries then have the possibility to go to our distribution point, register as new customers and receive an established score that will allow them to purchase the goods available in stock. Subsequently, each family is assigned a fixed weekly appointment, during which people can go safely to shop, avoiding crowded situations and finding volunteers who are always available to listen to their needs.
How are the points awarded?
During the conception and activation phase of the project, a democratic and proportional system was implemented through which a score is assigned to each family unit according to the number of members that compose it. In addition, all families with children under 24 months are awarded 10 additional points to be able to collect specific products such as diapers, hygienic wipes, baby bottles, baby food, etc.
Lastly, basic products such as masks, sanitizing gels and absorbents are distributed free of charge, outside the monthly calculation.
How are the goods in the warehouse managed?
Purchases and goods available in the shop are managed through a management software directly connected to the external warehouse. Within the devices available to volunteers, an application for cash register has been installed where you can view all customer profiles, record purchases, view those made in the past and all related details. As anticipated, this software is directly connected to the warehouse management program which is organized in such a way as to be able to manage the outgoing goods, register the incoming goods and view the stocks in order of expiration.
WE BIKE YOU
Some of the refugees in the Corinth camp found small jobs around the city and are really happy to be able to earn some money for their families, even if it means walking for more than two hours every day to go and come back. The hospital and other useful services are also located a few kilometres away from the camp. Especially during the very hot summer days and the cold winters, the journey is long and difficult.
We therefore decided to recover some abandoned and/or donated bicycles, repair them, and offer them for rent to those who need them. Thanks to the bikes, the journey is sped up , and the quality of life is greatly improved. It is also environmentally friendly and promotes physical exercise. A special thanks to the young Greeks who are helping us find the bikes and to the work of the volunteers who know how to reinvent themselves and make themselves useful in every situation!