Project “MERIMNA” - Safeguarding children at Greek border points
The project is implemented by ZEUXIS under the supervision of IOM and it is funded by the Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund of the European Union (DG HOME). It aims at providing protection and assistance services to Unaccompanied Migrant Children (UMCs) hosted in the Safe Area (SA) of Leros RIC.
ZEUXIS’ intervention aspires to the UMCs integration from the borders. It unfolds around 2 major axes: psychosocial support and non-formal education, through an interdisciplinary approach.
Psychosocial support is a manifold and multilayer process that includes -among other:
• Psychosocial History intake → to have a thorough insight to each UMC in terms of experiences, personality, and aspirations, so as to design an individual intervention
• Individual sessions with the Social Worker/ the Psychologist: consultancy, therapy & the Child’s Development Plan → to enhance participation, to overcome difficulties and/or trauma, to empower the UMCS to set and pursuit their personal goals
• Psychosocial Group sessions → to share important information, to enhance team bonding and peace building, to engage the UMCs through experience, to empower their soft and emotional skills such as cooperation and respect, to provide them with life skills
Non-formal education aims at the UMCs’ development of physical, emotional and cognitive/ creative skills:
• Using the communicative methodology of teaching a foreign/second language → to be able to serve the UMCs’ needs on a daily basis
• Through experiential and participatory activities → to engage students and enhance learning results
• Project-based lessons → to acquire a holistic knowledge regarding a topic
• Recreational activities → to invite imagination in the educational process
• Sport activities→ to release energy and exercise
• Commitment to safety rules and engagement in procedures → to ensure personal and communal hygiene, security, and well-being
During September, UMC’s stay in PIKPA due to the reconstruction works in the Safe Area of Leros RIC highlighted issues of cohabitation amongst them, as they had to share a single big room for the first time. The announcement of a confirmed Covid-19 case in Leros RIC led to the imposition of a 14-day quarantine on both Leros RIC and PIKPA accommodation facility. ZEUXIS ensured that all protection measures were applied in PIKPA according to state guidelines. Through its business continuity plan, ZEUXIS also provided that only the minimum required staff would be present in PIKPA during the lockdown.
Through individual and group sessions, ZEUXIS guided UMCs relating to their adjustment to PIKPA and adhering to the quarantine due to Covid-19. Also, a significant number of sessions involved handling of tensions which arose due to UMCs' disagreements and emotional distress due to the lockdown and uncertainty for the future.
In early September, ZEUXIS enrolled nine (9) children in Greek public schools; UMCs were looking forward to participating in classes; however, due to the quarantine, they could not attend.
The biggest challenge occurred when ZEUXIS was informed the day before by IOM that the beneficiaries would be transferred to the mainland. ZEUXIS' psychosocial unit supported them in handling their mixed emotions and provided relevant guidance during preparations for their departure from the island.
The context as well as the quantitative outcomes during September is outlined below:
SEPTEMBER 2020 – PROJECT RESULTS
• 21 UMCs (boys and girls) accommodated in LEROS RIC SA
• 16 members of staff on the field (Coordinator, Interpreters, Social worker, Psychologist, Lawyer, Educator, Driver, Caregivers)
• Basic support:
✓ 24 h presence of caregivers
✓ Interpretation in Arabic and Farsi
✓ Provision of legal support
✓ 2 snacks per day
✓ Daily routines (hygiene and ground rules in the Safe Area)
✓ Transportation and escorts
• Psychosocial support:
✓ 14 sessions for needs’ / requests’ assessment
✓ 93 consultation sessions
✓ 27 Individual sessions with the psychologist
✓ 43 referrals for medical examination and administrative issues
✓ 8 escorts to the hospital and private practitioners
• Education, recreation and leisure:
✓ 8 English lessons
✓ 4 German lessons
✓ 2 sports activities (sports & physical training)
✓ recreational activities (handicrafts & games)
✓ cleaning activities