5. October 2020

5. October 2020

Ano Liossia, Athens – Women want to learn to read and write

“It’s good to be able to go into a shop and read everything in it,” says the grandmother of several grandchildren (top of the picture) who attend the wortundtat family meeting centre in Athens. In the district of Ano Liosia, right up in the northeast of the five million strong metropolis, only a few inhabitants over the age of 15 can decipher or write anything more than their name. They are members of the Roma community living in the district, whose children have hardly ever managed to get a place in state schools.*

However, thanks to the centre, the number of under 15-year-olds who can read and write as well as their peers outside the neighbourhood can** is growing rapidly. The grandmother and her daughter, who is already a mother of two at 21, have a growing desire to keep up with their children. So the director of the centre, Luciana Christoforides, is offering a literacy course for adult women from the neighbourhood. “It is a great opportunity to help the parents and at the same time support the children in their progress,” she says.

* There are many reasons for this: For example, many parents do not manage to meet the official requirements for their children’s school attendance due to a lack of literacy. There are hardly any state integration offers for members of the Roma community. And only a few such communities are able to penetrate the system. However, offers like that of our partner Hellenic Ministries open doors in both directions and are being warmly taken up.

** According to a 2018 World Bank publication, the literacy rate in Greece is around 98 percent.

“Washing is easier”

“Learning to read and write is very hard for me. Washing is much easier,” says the young mother with a laugh as she works on a blanket spread out in front of her with detergent, water and scrubbing brush. Nevertheless, the 21-year-old is happy to have chosen the course. It is true that she cannot attend regularly. Life in the district is exhausting and there is a lot of work to be done in her small household. But she does see some gradual progress. At least.

A special incentive for mothers and grandmothers is the learning success of the children who pass through the centre and have now been given a place at a state school. “I have seen my grandchild’s teacher four or five times. She says that the boy is doing well at school. He can already write his first words. He is learning how to behave. This gives him a better chance of getting a job later,” says the woman, who has the hardships of a life without safeguards written all over her face.

Frau hockt vor einfacher Hütte und wäscht Decken

In the house on the left lives the young mother with her parents and two children. Even though she finds it difficult to learn, she is grateful for the opportunities it is opening up for her.

Positive developments despite Corona

The Corona pandemic has made it more difficult to help the Roma. Nevertheless, there have been some positive developments in recent months. For example, the team at the centre has been able to help many families with form filling and with vaccinations for the children. From August to mid-October, more than 50 children were vaccinated. At the beginning of the spread of the virus in Greece, the staff delivered numerous sanitary packages with mouthguards, disinfectants, soap and similar items and explained the use of these resources. And in the next few weeks, training programmes for working with wood, music and weaving will begin.
Ein Tisch mit Lebensmitteln, Menschen, die Schlange stehen

The family house consists of one and a half rooms. An employee of the Greek ministry helps the grandfather with some minor renovations. (The photo was taken before the Corona pandemic).

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