It was the first days since the Dormitory for the homeless children of Athens had opened its doors, when a 15-year-old boy came and asked to stay. Just like the other children, he followed the procedures: he put in the locker he was given his few belongings that he was carrying in a backpack, he took off his shoes and put on slippers, took some clean clothes and got ready to take a bath. As he made his way to the showers, he took a clean towel from the stack on the washing machines, brought it to his face and kept smelling it. We were worried that something had happened to the washing machine and that the towels had not been washed properly. “No there is nothing wrong” he told us when we asked him. “It’s just that it has been such a long time since I last held a clean towel in my hands. I wanted to feel the smell of cleanliness”. Later, when it was time to go to bed, we saw him smelling in the same way the bedsheets…
A simple story from the daily life of METAdrasi’s Dormitory; a story of a homeless child who, like so many others, survived all alone on the city streets.
The homeless are the “invisible” people who live among us. Something that we take for granted, something as simple as the smell of a clean towel can be a “luxury” for those who find themselves in the difficult situation of homelessness, faced with a problem of social exclusion; a problem that is encountered around the world and results in more and more people being deprived of the fundamental right to housing.
Since the end of April 2021, when METAdrasi’s Dormitory for the Homeless Children in the city of Athens started operating, until today, about 100 children have been accommodated and many have now been placed in permanent accommodation facilities. The dormitory is funded by METAdrasi’s own resources thanks to the Humanitarian Prize of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The support of the Municipality of Athens, in matters related to the provision of meals, cleaning and security services, is valuable.